I know everyone has the right to their beliefs, but when I interviewed The Real World Brooklyn's Latino cast member, J.D. Ordonez, I was a little taken aback by what he said about non-English-speaking Americans: "It is my personal opinion that if you come to the United States, you
should learn to speak English. If I moved to France, I should learn to
While Ordonez is entitled to his own opinion, I have to
disagree. According to him, even my parents don't belong in this country, since they've been here 20 years and still don't speak English
It all started when I asked the 23-year-old dolphin trainer about an incident that took place on the show's second episode (watch it here). After a night of partying, Ordonez returned home inebriated and started telling his roommates about a drugstore employee he confronted for not speaking English. "I said, 'You're gonna lose your f***ing job!' I am so tired of these f***ing people that don't speak English....My parents came here on a f***ing banana boat, you know, from Cuba."
When I saw the episode, I gave Ordonez the benefit of the doubt because, hey, stuff happens when you're drunk. But he was defensive when I asked him about it. "I was in the privacy of my own home. People don't realize this, but the Real World house was our house," he said.
Ordonez, whose father is Cuban and mother is Puerto Rican, says people always recognize him as Latino upon meeting him. As a young boy growing up in Orlando, he dreamed of becoming a marine mammal trainer and now works at the Miami Seaquarium full-time. Ordonez didn't have the perfect home life growing up, which he says is one of the reasons he decided to audition for The Real World. "I wanted a family I never had before. I was never close to my family. I was in foster care. On The Real World, they end up being a family at the end of it all."
Ordonez says it was easier for Caitlin, The Real World's first-ever transgender castmember, to cope with the house because he was there to lend her moral support. "I've been around enough transgendered people, so I thought it was cool," he says, but adds that Caitlin's secret was never actually a secret. "Everybody knew on Day One that she was transgender, because she's not that convincing. It was obvious. She was like an open book, talking about how 'there's only three-and-a-half girls in the house.' I didn't out Caitlin—she outed herself!"
As for Ordonez's own private romantic life, he stayed tightlipped about internet rumors linking him to CNN anchorman Anderson Cooper. "I'd rather
not talk about that," he says.
An activist in the LGBT community, Ordonez has gotten more
opportunities to work for the gay community since the show wrapped.
"I'm still working with the center in NY to raise money to fight AIDS
and do appearances as a motivational speaker. And I continue to live my
bliss, which is mammal training."
But the biggest lesson Ordonez seems to have learned from The Real World is that a little attitude can sometimes be a good thing. "I am a nice person, but I learned I don't like getting messed with. When you're too nice, people take advantage of you."
Do you watch The Real World Brooklyn? What do you think about Ordonez's comments?