Bob Harper opened up on Tuesday’s episode of The Biggest Loser, stating for the first time on national television that he is gay. Though Harper, 48, came out to his family when he was 17, he has never publicly addressed his sexuality on the show that made him famous and changed hundreds (some might say thousands; ratings might say millions) of people’s lives.
Harper said he knew it was time to talk about being gay on The Biggest Loser when he met Bobby, a contestant on the show’s 15th season: “I really do believe that this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame.” Bobby, who comes from a strict Catholic family, has been struggling with the decision to come out to his parents, particularly his father, and it was obvious to Harper how that was weighing on him when the parents visited the Biggest Loser ranch.
In a powerful moment, Harper shared with Bobby his similar struggle and resulting decision to come out to his father 31 years ago, saying, “Being gay doesn’t mean being weak and being gay doesn’t mean you’re less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”
Harper didn’t have his encouraging chat with Bobby until after his parents had exited the ranch, but his personal message clearly had an impact.
The trainer also tweeted his thanks when fans and former contestants began expressing their support for his decision to open up on the show.
THANK YOU to everyone that supported my decision to talk about being gay w/ Bobby. I felt like it was appropriate & necessary. LOVE Y'ALL!!—
Bob Harper (@MyTrainerBob) November 27, 2013