Gay Layton man out, proud on 14th season of "The Biggest Loser"

Jan 4 2013 - 11:01pm

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Jackson Carter, a Layton resident and Weber State University theater education student who is proud to call himself the first openly gay contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” bought a pink jacket to “own being gay.” (Courtesy photo)
Jackson Carter, 21, of Layton, was bullied about his sexual orientation and weight during high school. He's on the 14th season of "The Biggest Loser." (Courtesy photo)
Jackson Carter, 21, a Weber State University student from Layton, appears on the 14th season of "The Biggest Loser." (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)
Jackson Carter, a Layton resident and Weber State University theater education student who is proud to call himself the first openly gay contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” bought a pink jacket to “own being gay.” (Courtesy photo)
Jackson Carter, a Layton resident and Weber State University theater education student who is proud to call himself the first openly gay contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” bought a pink jacket to “own being gay.” (Courtesy photo)
Jackson Carter, 21, of Layton, was bullied about his sexual orientation and weight during high school. He's on the 14th season of "The Biggest Loser." (Courtesy photo)
Jackson Carter, 21, a Weber State University student from Layton, appears on the 14th season of "The Biggest Loser." (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)
Jackson Carter, a Layton resident and Weber State University theater education student who is proud to call himself the first openly gay contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” bought a pink jacket to “own being gay.” (Courtesy photo)

OGDEN -- Layton resident Jackson Carter will have a lot of friends and supporters standing behind him when he makes his premiere on "The Biggest Loser."

Fortunately, they won't be standing with him on the scale on the weight-loss show's California set.

No, the viewing parties will be held locally and will be open to the general public.

* Sunday night's gathering will be at the Marriott-Slaterville City Hall, 1570 W. 400 North. The show airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

* Monday night's viewing party will be in the Wildcat Theater, Shepherd Union Building, Weber State University, 3848 Harrison Blvd. The show runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For those who prefer to view at home, look for "The Biggest Loser" on KSL Channel 5.

The viewing parties are sponsored by Ogden's OUTreach Resource Center, which provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths, and their friends, families and allies.

Carter, 21 and a Weber State theater education student, has been a volunteer at OUTreach and is proud to call himself the first openly gay contestant on "The Biggest Loser."

"Jackson thinks it's a very positive thing," said Marian Edmonds, OUTreach executive director. "He came home over the holidays, and someone here asked him how it feels to be out and gay on the show. We won't really know until we see the show, but he feels like he will be presented in a positive way as a gay person. He feels very supported."

Network restrictions prevent Edmonds or any of Carter's family members from discussing how long he stays on the show without being eliminated, but since taping started in September and Carter returned to The Biggest Loser Ranch after the holidays, it's pretty clear he isn't a one-episode wonder.

"He looks fabulous," Edmonds said. "He looks radiant. He feels really good, and he's really into exercising and enjoying it as much as he can. It's not his favorite thing in the world, but he looks like he is loving what he is doing."

Edmonds said Carter was bullied about his sexual orientation and his weight as a teen. The pressures of being a new university student and of putting in significant volunteer time at OUTreach, as well as serving on the OUTreach Board of Directors, left Carter less time to exercise and plan healthful meals.

"I remember the day he went to the casting call in Salt Lake," Edmonds said. "He had started to feel more self-conscious about his weight, which was 328 pounds, and he kind of went in on a lark with a group of friends. He told me, 'This is fun and exciting, but it will never happen.'

"He decided to go shopping to get something kind of special to wear, and he saw a pink jacket and thought it was really fun. He told me he thought, 'I am gay, and if I wear pink, I own being gay. I am an out and proud gay man making a conscious choice.' "

Nationwide, more than 300,000 people auditioned for the show, which begins its 14th season this weekend.

Edmonds said, Carter and several friends got called back after the Utah casting call, but the calls kept coming for Carter.

Carter realized he might have the gig when producers flew him to Southern California for a final audition and extensive medical tests.

"They wanted to make sure he could do those incredible six-hour workouts they do," Edmonds said. "He said he was getting more and more excited, but he also told me about how physically hard the routines were."

Edmonds said the show came to tape footage of Carter at OUTreach, with him standing in front of a rainbow flag. She has remained in touch with producers through email, she said.

Carter has discovered a few minor medical problems, including exercised-induced asthma and a digestive condition that makes him vomit during intense gym sessions, Edmonds said.

"But the kind of person he is, he keeps going anyway."

Edmonds said Carter has earned the respect of the show's producers and crew.

"Talking with 'The Biggest Loser' people, they all love him, too," she said. "He's just such a really nice person. He stands out that way. He's the heart and soul of OUTreach, and he's just a genuinely nice guy."

Carter does have one serious regret, that he will miss the viewing parties held on his behalf.

"I told him we would sign cards for him and take pictures," Edmonds said. "We'll send them to him, and he will be able to see the support for him and what he is doing for himself and for the community."

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