“Survivor” Winners Parvati Shallow and Erika Casupanan Are Gay and Parvati’s Bae is Mae

Parvati Shallow Comes Out as Queer, Hard Launches Mae Martin Relationship: “We’re here. We’re queer. Happy new year.”

Picture this. It’s your last night home for the holidays before you return to Brooklyn. Your fiancé told you she’s going to shower, so you go to get your laundry from your parents’ basement. Suddenly, you hear a yelp. It’s your fiancé! She’s yelling your name! You run to her, unsure whether you should be concerned or excited, because she’s still yelling, screaming really, either exuberant or panicked. You finally make it to her; she yells “LOOK!” and turns her phone around to show you THIS post in which Survivor winner Parvati Shallow comes out as gay and also being in a relationship with Mae Martin!

No, reader, this isn’t fantasy. This is real life. Everything I just said is true. Yes, I was doing laundry. Yes, Parvati Shallow — already a gay icon, winner of Survivor Season 16 — is queer and dating non-binary comedian Mae Martin. Mae also posted about the relationship on their own Instagram this morning, which earned a supportive string of heart emojis from none other than Sophia Bush, as well as congrats from people like Alison Brie and Catherine Bohart.

Eagle-eyed members of the Parvati fan club may have seen this announcement coming — there have been rumors that Parvati and Mae have been dating swirling since November 2023. There have been little hints on social media about Parvati and Mae’s romance ever since, like:

Mae’s fans have also been on high alert, as Mae has mentioned Parvati in recent live shows and on the Handsome Podcast they host with Tig Notaro and Fortune Feimster.

And all of this was after Parvati said “gay rights”, a video that it’s very normal for me to have known about for several years and to have watched, you know, a few times.

Even before Parvati — now officially the first ever queer woman to win Survivor! — came out, she was a gay icon, evidenced by Las Culturistas’ Matt Rogers saying so (and me agreeing) and also by the fact that she is my wi-fi password. I don’t know what makes a gay icon, exactly, but I do know why I love Parvati. She’s arguably one of the best social manipulators to ever grace the Survivor screen — the Black Widow Brigade pulled off maybe the best move of all time that I won’t spoil here for anyone who hasn’t watched her season.

According to her website, Parvati works as “a coach, author and speaker helping high performers transform their lives” “through bold, inspired action.”

Parvati Shallow Is Survivor’s First Queer Woman Winner, One of Survivor’s Most Compelling Players of All Time

In every season I’ve seen Parvati in (full disclosure that I have not watched Winners at War!), she dominates the social game. She can seemingly flirt with just about anyone, which has been used as an argument against her. But I think to be able to flirt is to be able to see people as they want to be seen, to tell them what they want to hear, to give them what they want to receive, all while making the power dynamic feel equitable. To do that with any one person takes social and emotional insight; to do that with many, in a game like Survivor where people are specifically trying not to be taken advantage of? That’s a freaking gift.

(The only person apparently immune to Parvati’s wiles is Sandra Diaz-Twine, a social manipulator queen in her own right. Both Sandra and Parvati draw from a well of emotional intelligence far deeper than the average player, which they employ with very different tactics, to very similar ends. And maybe that’s exactly why they don’t get along. And if you want to hear more about this, please watch Season Two of The Traitors with me because both Parvati and Sandra are on it!! Keep an eye out for those recaps here on Autostraddle.com!)

But Parvati is more than her ability to connect with and sway just about every person she encounters. She’s also a challenge beast — she can do things like stand on a pole for SIX HOURS and then, while up there, negotiate with the last remaining player so that they don’t have to play until they literally drop. She’s also an introspective, evolving human who shares openly about what it’s like to be labeled as a Survivor “villain”, and how that reshaped her life.

(I do love Parvati’s villain era though, in Survivor Season 20, aptly named Heroes vs. Villains. This season includes my personal favorite moment in Survivor TV history, nay ALL OF TV history, when a certain Fedora-wearing someone misuses an immunity idol, and Parvati hisses, “You wasted it.” She couldn’t be more right, and she couldn’t be less afraid to tell this man how stupid he’s been — how delicious. Please sound off in the comments if you also cherish this moment!!!)
All in all, I love Parvati because she embodies the human contradictions I try so hard to allow for in my own life: she’s so utterly confident in who she is, in embracing her own power, while also being so deeply open to change and new discovery. And you know what? That’s queer. Welcome home, Parv!!!

Survivor Season 41 Winner Erika Casupanan Is a Lesbian Becomes First Lesbian Winner

But reader, this isn’t all. Mere moments after the Parvati news came out, I did what any normal person would do — I pored over the comments on her post. And that’s when I saw a comment saying, “Two survivor winners coming out in one day!!!” and my HEART SKIPPED A BEAT! Who else came out today, I wondered and also said out loud to my fiancé. “Erika!” answered the other commenters on Parvati’s post, since we’re all in this together, aren’t we!!

So of course, then I had to go see what Erika Casupanan had to say for herself! And yes, readers, this too is true: Erika Casupanan is Survivor’s first lesbian winner!!!

And who among us hasn’t sat underneath a table eating grapes in order to secure a boyfriend only to end up drinking wine and realizing we’re lesbians. Happens to the best of us!!

Erika, Survivor’s first Canadian winner and Survivor’s first Filipino winner, has extremely cool purple hair which should’ve been at least a LITTLE bit of a hint, is a keynote speaker and media correspondent. She hosts a podcast called “Happy to See Me,” where she interviews reality TV, social media and other pop culture personalities and appeared in the first season of The Traitors Canada.

Erika won Survivor Season 41 by playing the middle and not making a single enemy — a strategy that seems to have become more and more prevalent in the “new era” of Survivor. She and Parvati played very different games, but you know what they both have in common? THEY’RE BOTH QUEER!!!

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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: anyarichkind.substack.com

Anya has written 34 articles for us.

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