Forget what you think you know about reality TV hottie David Barta. Despite his appearances on Fox’s Paradise Hotel, Crackle TV’s Men of West Hollywood, and, most recently, MTV’s Ex on the Beach, what you see is NOT what you get, and David is ready to shed his reality TV persona and live life according to his own editing. After years of special focus on David’s sexuality – by gay fans wanting him to be gay and reality TV producers trying to make it a point of discussion – David came out as pansexual on national TV and revealed his crush on fellow cast member Mike Mulderrig. Though the setting on Ex on the Beach plays towards meme-worthy one-liners and drink-throwing antics, his revelation was anything but TV fodder, he chose a path at that fork in the road, from which there would be no return, cameras or not.
I am not a fan of labels in any area of life quite honestly. Going on TV with a man who I was attracted to and knew I would be involved with on the show to one degree or another, it was apparent that I would need to give some sort of definition to my sexual orientation. I prefer the term “sexually fluid” to identify myself because I have discovered that is the pattern by which I find myself attracted to and interacting with people. I’ve known that my attraction to other people was not gender-exclusive for about two years now, and realized I was in fact attracted to all genders and I had deeper attractions to people based on their personalities and energies as opposed to gender. I don’t know who I’ll end up getting married to or what gender they identify with, but I do know I will fall in love for who they are, not what’s in their pants.
The road to his sexual evolution is a long one. Raised in a conservative household, he was destined to live a heteronormative life. A Southern California native, he was being groomed for a life in baseball. Extremely talented on the field, as a senior in high school he was talking to six MLB teams with the 2016 First-Year MLB draft in sight when his life would change forever. While throwing a bullpen for the Chicago Cubs Scouting Bureau, he felt a pop in his elbow. This incident would create a domino effect, starting with his inability to participate in the MLB draft, through his Tommy John Surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) and being pulled out of games during his short-lived collegiate baseball career at Loyola Marymount University, to his ultimate diagnosis with permanent ulnar nerve damage. His baseball career was over, the years of literal blood, sweat, and tears would not be enough. What would follow was a period of bittersweet self-awareness.
I struggled with depression and a premature identity crisis following the year of my baseball career ending. At the time, I was still twenty years old and attending Loyola Marymount University as a junior studying psychology, which isn’t an easy time in general. What kept me growing and moving forward during this time was a great desire to find a new passion and purpose for my life. During my junior year of college, I got a job as a sales advisor at a local 24 Hour Fitness in Burbank and saw personal trainers moving and operating in the gym which sparked my fragile, defensive ego at the time making me think, “I could do that better than they could, easily.” Working out had always been a safe space for me where I could create a positive habit that would make my body look and feel better at the same time. This is what started what has now been my career for the last five years.
Immediately after my final baseball injury, I felt a strange combination of both peace and fear. I was at peace knowing that I finally had my answer of whether I would ever fully recover physically and play to the best of my potential again or not (obviously the latter), and in fear because I had never had to imagine a life of my own that didn’t involve, or even completely revolve around playing baseball. I realized at the moment of my career-ending injury that I didn’t know anything about myself, other than the sport I had formerly played.
David’s fitness journey would lead to commercial modeling after a college friend would get him signed to an agency. Little did he know that reality TV would be the next stop on his ever-changing path.
In pursuit of trying to feel comfortable and confident in my body after the last two years of baseball surgeries and a short spurt of being pre-diabetic, modeling seemed like a great step in the right direction. I began to post more modeling and quite frankly “thirst trap” pictures on social media which sparked growth in followers, and soon I started to get different reality dating shows reaching out to me. I had gotten far in casting for one dating show when a casting producer from Paradise Hotel messaged me on Instagram asking me to come audition for their show which was set to begin in three weeks. My interview went well. The team told me they were ready to ship me off to Mexico to film. And that was the beginning of my reality TV career.
Painted as the goody-two-shoes of the show, he was presented as the college virgin with old-fashioned morals and a conservative way of life. Part television fabrication, part playing a role David had been born into, his sexual evolution was just beginning.
Since first appearing on reality TV, ALOT has changed. When I first came on to reality TV, I was still in college, freshly NOT a virgin, and still figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. After Paradise Hotel, I was introduced to other reality TV stars who became friends of mine and empowered me to fully be myself whether that be my personality, sexuality, or what have you. Up until then the only friends I had in my life were those that I made from church, and from playing baseball who I clearly could not be fully myself around. I can attribute most of my personal growth journey to the group of friends and mentors I met from being involved in the reality TV world.
Part of this group from the reality TV universe would be a number of personalities from the LGBTQ community. His world was opening up and his idea of the “norm” was being challenged.
I learned the LGBTQ community is a great community of love and acceptance. Coming from a religious background, I was painted a picture of seeing the LGBTQ community as something to fear, and something to avoid. Little known to the religious community, some people and members of the LGBTQ community are the most honest and genuine people you’ll find.
This closeness that he shared with our community would bring his sexuality into question. Is he, or isn’t he? Media interviews, social media comments, and alleged Grindr sightings would add fuel to the fire as David skillfully crafted his responses. When the trailers for the current season of MTV’s Ex on the Beach hit, they centered around David’s first on-screen, male kiss. Was it a joke? Was it a dare? Was it just for clickbait? Initially brought on the show to face two of his female exes, what was he doing? David did not come out as gay, he did not come out as bi, but rather, as pansexual. What does that mean to him, personally?
I’ve learned that my attraction to other people truly lies in their energy and personality as opposed to gender. My pansexuality has helped me not limit myself when meeting new people to view them as “dateable” or “not-dateable” at first glance based on any given factors, but to approach people and life with a more open view and not put myself or my love life in any given parameters.
How did his conservative friends and family react?
I have definitely had a mixed pool of responses from friends and exes about coming out. Some people have responded exactly how I thought they would, and others have quite frankly shocked me. Some of my exes were completely supportive, and some claimed to be disgusted. Some of my friends said they already knew I was sexually fluid without having to say, and some did not believe that I was telling the truth. Whether good or bad responses to my coming out, the opinions around me have not changed or held back my growth in learning more about myself.
In addition to the mixed reactions from his circle, the gay community had its own opinions. David was not coming out as pansexual and then heading to social media with a boyfriend in hand or taking the stages at Pride events. Was he pandering to our community?
I would say that 99.9% of the responses I got from coming out were positive and encouraging from both people I did and did not know. But, in any publicly shared announcement (especially on reality TV) there were a few haters who accused me of faking my fluidity for attention or to forward my career. Based on what merit, I am not sure. My sexuality and my life are my stories to tell at the end of the day. I don’t want to fit into any mold other than the one I create for myself in my life. Am I attracted to all genders in different ways? Absolutely. How will that manifest and play out in my life? I’m not sure. All I know is that I am truly my own individual person and any mold or plan I had for myself growing up is no longer the case.
David’s statement on sexuality, his kissing scenes on television, his shirtless billboards, and booty-centric posts on social media are very different from the baseball star image from the past. How has his conservative family dealt with his evolution?
I’m not gonna lie, my family has disagreed with many decisions in my life post-baseball career. If my parents had it their way, I would still be living with them at home working as an accountant or some other “safe” 9 to 5 desk job and following in their footsteps. With a lot of my decisions and areas in my life, my family does not agree with me 100%, but they support me as their son whether they understand it or not.
Though reality TV gave him the avenue to express himself and his story publicly and gain a global fan base, he is shedding his reality TV persona to focus on his fitness training and modeling career. To his followers on social media, he has always been very open and candid about his personal fitness struggles. He shares his weight gains and losses, fatigue, and plateaus equally, highlighting the perseverance and commitment that are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. What his fans and fitness clients love is his absolute candor when it comes to being grumpy from eating salads or getting ready for a 5:30am workout. He is the reality of life beyond reality TV.
As part of the LGBTQ community, I’ve personally felt more comfortable in my own skin now more than ever. Of course, being recently single has sparked me to step my game up but being publicly fluid has helped me set less hardcore expectations for myself and love myself no matter what.
He has been a source of inspiration for those of us who have gained some unwanted pounds during COVID. You don’t need to be a fitness star; you just have to try making small adjustments.
My best advice is to make small sustainable changes in your life. Take more steps throughout the day. Drink two more cups of water. Eat half of that big dinner plate. My advice to both my regular clients and anyone else is the same. If you care about something or want something, make small changes that are comfortable and applicable in your day-to-day life. Personally, I lost 25 pounds in the last two months due to primarily portion control and making sure I walked 10,000 steps every single day.
From Paradise Hotel to the Ex on the Beach, has he finally found true love?
At this point in time, I just got out of a year-long relationship and am really trying to focus on recovering from that mentally and emotionally because I don’t have the resources to add anyone to my life at the moment. Additionally, I’ve never felt as motivated in my line of work as I do now and am wholeheartedly pursuing that.
The word “pride” has certainly come to mean very different things to David over the years. This year, he is able to join the community’s Pride season with a confident idea of his place in it, ready for whatever the future brings. His Pride message this year?
Be yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you how to live, who to live, or who you are. Screw labels, boundaries, and expectations. Be yourself and let your light shine differently than anyone else’s.
You can follow David on IG: @theRealDBart_
Last modified: August 2, 2022