Meet the Queer Women of Survivor Season 45

Deemed by many (or at least by me) the worst premiere in history, Survivor Season 45 began last Wednesday! In an episode that I found truly hard to watch, in not one but actually several instances, there was just one silver lining: once again there are three queer gals competing on the most important TV show of all time, Survivor!!

It’s too early to tell how they will fare in the game, but I’m gonna do what I do best when it comes to this show: make guesses based on very limited information. Who will outwit, outlast, outplay???

Katurah Topps

Survivor Season 45 contestant Katurah Topps glances off-camera, asking a fellow competitor, “So what’s it like being a lawyer?

Honestly incredible acting, I’d believe her

Boy oh BOY do I have high hopes for Katurah! She’s a 35-year-old civil rights attorney living in Brooklyn — but she’s not telling anyone that. She’s decided to hide the fact that she’s a lawyer in the hopes of obscuring her strategic prowess. I honestly love when people choose to lie right out of the gate; it’s bold, exciting, and daring!

Upon closer inspection, I also caught that Katurah told her tribemates Kellie Nalbandian (more on her soon) and Kendra McQuarrie she’s 29 — but according to EW, she’s 35! This feels completely in line with her overall strategy to position herself as anything but strategically threatening. I love it! It’s called OUTWITTING, people!!

Furthermore, Katurah seems to have a natural grasp of social hierarchy in a way that reminds me of the icon Maryanne Oketch, a contestant who openly admitted to downplaying her smarts early in the season, only to reveal them later and (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) secure her win. Can Katurah pull it off?! I hope so!

Kellie Nalbandian

Profile view of Survivor Season 45 competitor Kellie Nalbandian accessing her surroundings

Kellie taking in the jungle

At least in this first episode, it seems Katurah and Kellie are forming an alliance, which is extremely exciting to queer women everywhere! A critical care nurse living in NYC, Kellie comes off as grounded and charismatic, if a bit hesitant. She has an ease with talking to people that I think will get her far in the game.

Other than that, I’ve ascertained that she is a Virgo, because (1) her birthday is in September and (2) when Kendra asks if she’s a Virgo, she doesn’t say no! This bodes well for her. I don’t know much about astrology, but my partner Jess is a Virgo, and she’s the best, so this has gotta mean something good for Kellie.

Survivor Season 45 contestants Katurah Topps and Kendra McQuarrie look at each other excitedly, asking, “Are we all virgos?

Katurah and Kendra (who has not self-identified as queer, but has self-identified as “witchy” and a “weird astrologer girl”) rejoice over potentially being Virgos

Sabiyah Broderick

Survivor Season 45 contestant Sabiyah Broderick addresses the camera, saying “At this point, the panic starts to set in.

Me taking in all that’s happening with the yellow tribe and praying Sabiyah emerges unscathed

A former marine and current truck driver who seems like she can make just about anybody crack a smile, it’s clear that Sabiyah is a strong competitor. My biggest fear for her is the tribe she’s on — Y I K E S ! The yellow tribe is very much struggling: Brandon Donlon had a mental breakdown before they even made it to camp; Emily Flippen’s vibes are frankly terrible; Hannah Rose couldn’t hack it and essentially voted herself out at first tribal. There’s a lot going on, and I’m very nervous that somehow this chaotic tribe will turn on one of the only people who actually seems able to play this game well: Sabiyah!

She seems aware that her tribe is, well, not the best, so I’m hoping she has a little paranoia and fights to keep herself safe. I think if she makes it to the merge, she could go really far!

Are you watching Survivor 45? What do you think will happen??

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Anya Richkind

Anya is a writer, a Pisces, and a huge fan of Survivor. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Jess and their kittens, Buckett and Tubbs. She writes a substack called Questions I Have in which she explores questions big, small, medium, and more. Check it out here:

Anya has written 37 articles for us.


  1. This cast feels like the weakest of all the new era casts, but still rooting for Katurah in a big way! I liked Sabiyah’s vibe before the show started but she lost me quickly with her alien pyramid battery conspiracy theories.

      • I agree, the casting for this season somehow feels less invested in telling a story than I’ve felt in previous seasons? It’s hard to explain, but I agree that it just isn’t hitting quite right (at least not yet)!

        And yes… the alien battery thing was weird. My only thought was that maybe it was a joke? It was hard to tell because it was such a quick moment but I do think that’s a possibility — or at least that makes more sense to me than any other explanation!

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