In October of 2005 AfterEllen.com conducted an interview with Cycle 5‘s Sarah Rhoades following her appearance and elimination from the show. Here is the text from the interview (written and posted by Malinda Lo, Senior Writer):

Interview with Sarah Rhoades from Top Model

Season 5 of America’s Next Top Model is the third time that the reality series has included an openly lesbian or bisexual contestant, but it’s the first time that two contestants have developed a relationship with each other during the show. After ostensibly straight Sarah Rhoades kissed openly lesbian Kim in the season premiere, their relationship quickly heated up and led to nighttime swims in the Top Model pool capped off with under-the-covers shenanigans caught by an optimally placed night-vision camera.

But though it might have all seemed like fun and games until then, Sarah’s teary-eyed confessional revelation that she was genuinely confused by the experience won her many lesbian fans who recalled their own early experiences in coming to terms with their sexuality. Unfortunately, after tripping one too many times on the runway, Sarah was cast off the show just as things between her and Kim were getting interesting.

We recently chatted with her about what really happened between the two of them, whether she considers herself to be gay, and what it’s been like dealing with the issue in her conservative Midwestern home town of Boonville, Missouri.

AfterEllen.com: I think that a lot of lesbian viewers really identified with you when you said that you felt really confused.
Sarah Rhoades:
Yeah, that’s like kind of a constant state of mind (laughs). I guess I was confused about … everything. Really, being there is so intense and so stressful and it’s so different from my life, and me and Kim, we just kind of became each other’s support system, and I went to her for comfort and vice versa. And through that we kind of developed feelings—I know I did for her—and that confused me even more. (Laughs) It helped me, and it confused me, and—I mean, I don’t know. Even now, I’m like, whatever (laughs).

AE: Well, dealing with those feelings for the first time can be really, really distracting. Do you think that they distracted you from the competition?
SR:
I don’t. Mainly when you watch the show, it looks like it’s all one big jumble … but really, when you’re modeling and when you’re in the house, they’re two very separate things, and if you can separate those—which I can in my head—then you’re fine. And I don’t think that hindered me at all in the competition. The initial tripping is probably what was worse for me, because it was kind of in my mind that “I’m gonna trip, I’m gonna trip,” so then every time I went out there I was like, “Oh I know I’m gonna trip,” and that’s what they want me to do, so I just always did. Not intentionally, it just kind of happened. So I don’t think it was Kim—I think it was more in my mindset at the time.

AE: You’ve said in some interviews after you came off the show that you couldn’t stand Kim during the semifinals.
SR:
Yeah (laughs).

AE: What changed?
SR:
I couldn’t stand her just because it seemed to me like she was using her lesbianism—(laughs) I don’t know the proper terminology for that—just to get on the show. I still don’t even know whether she did or not, or whether that’s why they chose her. Um, but to me it was constant, always like “Yeah okay, Kim, we know you’re gay, like shut up,” you know, ’cause that’s all she talked about. So I wasn’t really that happy when I found out we were going to have to live together, but she’s just one of those people [where] once you get to know her, she grows on you. And she’s a great person. I care about her a lot now as a friend. We’re friends still. But at the time I wasn’t her biggest fan.

AE: On the show you made a phone call to someone who was identified as your boyfriend, but I think you’ve said since that he wasn’t actually your boyfriend?
SR:
Yeah … he wasn’t actually my boyfriend. We had dated before, and maybe that’s why the show labeled it as that, but yeah. (Laughs) That wasn’t really an issue when I got back because we weren’t together at the time.

AE: Do you think that you were portrayed accurately?
SR:
Yeah, I mean, yes and no. They take tidbits out of your interview and just use the words they want you to say [when] really you have much more to say on the subject, but overall, I think I was portrayed okay.

AE: So, with this guy, you said you weren’t dating him at the time. Are you with him now?
SR:
No, no, I mean, we hadn’t been together for six or seven months when I talked to him, and we haven’t ever been together since.

AE: So how about your relationship with Kim; do you think that was portrayed accurately?
SR:
Yes and no. I kind of feel like they made it look like I was a lot more involved versus Kim, but we really [were] on the same page more or less, because I knew she had a girlfriend and she knew that I was semi seeing somebody. I don’t know, it kind of seemed like they made me like come off as the foolish one, when really I wasn’t at all, and I’m not now. So I didn’t appreciate that, but yeah, whatever. (Laughs)

AE: Tell me what really happened.
SR:
They showed what happened, but in interviews they cut off a lot of what I was saying to make me seem like the needy, feeble, straight 18-year-old girl, and Kim was like the all-wise lesbian, which really wasn’t the case. I mean, we were on the same terms. I thought we were on the same page, and she thought the same. So, it’s fine (laughs).

AE: I think that many viewers actually feel that she treated you unfairly, that she was being more of a player than a friend to you. How do you feel about that?
SR:
That’s pretty much what I mean. In the end I know what happened, she knows what happened, and the way that they edited it does make me come off as a fool and her being all powerful, but I know how it was and so does she. And we’re fine now, we’re friends, it’s really quite fine. I’m not mad at her.

AE: So you’re still in touch with her?
SR:
She’s still with her girlfriend and I’m with someone, so it’s fine.

AE: Are you in touch with any of the other girls on the show?
SR
: Me and Kyle talk sometimes, me and Diane, and Coryn now and then, we talk.

AE: Did you tell you family about what was going to happen before it aired, or were you not allowed to talk about it until the airdate?
SR:
We weren’t really allowed to talk about anything. I kind of hinted at it, so I think they were kind of sort of expecting it, a little bit, so they were okay.

AE: How have they reacted to it? Have they talked to you about it at all?
SR:
No, it’s kind of one of those unspoken things no one talks about it. No one mentions it or says anything about it, so it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, here. I’m from Boonville, Missouri, and the Midwest is very very different from L.A. [It’s] not as accepting, we don’t really have that many lesbian people or gay people or whatever out here at all, and no one really wants to talk about it, so we don’t. We don’t even say the word “lesbian!” (Laughs) It’s really different here, so, no, I actually have never talked about it with my mom or dad or anybody.

AE: Wow. Do you think that they might want to talk about it? Do you want to talk about it?
SR:
I would if they wanted to, but they don’t seem to even want to acknowledge it at all. I mean, I don’t consider myself bisexual or a lesbian, so I’m not even sure what I would say to them at this point about it at all, so I’m kind of glad they don’t want to talk about it, I guess (laughs).

AE: Do you think, though, even if you don’t identify as lesbian or bisexual, do you think you just might not be straight?
SR:
I don’t know. I really don’t know what constitutes as being considered one or the other. I don’t know, you tell me! (laughs) Kim’s the only person I’ve ever had feelings for, I guess, in that sense.

AE: In your parting words on the show, you said that you learned a lot about yourself. Tell me about something that you learned that has nothing to do with Kim.
SR:
I’m a lot more confident and I have [more] respect for myself versus from before. I always had a low self-esteem and I didn’t like myself at all, and I didn’t think I could do anything, you know? I hated myself at one point in my life and the show has really brought out my confidence. I can honestly say that I like who I am today, and I have never been able to say that before, so I’m really thankful for the show in that way.

AE: That’s wonderful. What was your most unexpected experience on the show?
SR:
Kim, for sure. That would definitely be it.

E: What was your favorite part about the experience?
SR:
My favorite part was probably just getting to know all the girls, because I’m friends with a lot of guys here and I usually hang out with them. But I loved just being in the house and it was a really different experience for me. I loved getting to know the girls and I came out with some really good friends, so I’m happy.

AE: Are you dating someone now?
SR:
A boy, yes (laughs). Yes, a boy.

AE: How does he feel about what he saw?
SR:
He actually [didn’t see] the show. UPN out here is not a big station at all. We just got it in our town last year and they didn’t even show the first episode of it, so it’s not big at all here. There’s nothing here, no one really even knows about UPN, so he hasn’t seen it. A lot of people haven’t seen it, which kind of benefits me. So he hasn’t seen it, but he knows about it. I think he’s okay with it. He hasn’t really said much. It’s just no one talks about it here, which I know is weird to you, but we really don’t. He hasn’t said much, but I think he’s fine with it, and he’s a great guy, so he’s okay.

AE: Well, that’s good.
SR:
Yeah, I hope.

AE: What was your least favorite part of the experience?
SR:
My least favorite part I guess I hated that we did runway right off the bat, and then as soon as I left they’re not doing it anymore. That’s like, great. My least favorite part was probably not having any training. You think you’re going to go in and learn how to be a model, but you don’t and they don’t tell you anything at all. You have 15 seconds with the runway coach and that’s it. They just expect you to be a top model and they don’t teach you anything, ever. So I don’t really feel like I learned much about modeling at all versus, you know, learning about myself.

AE: Had you done some modeling in the past, though?
SR:
I’ve been with an agency and gone to some conventions but I’ve never actually modeled, no.

AE: Have you been practicing your runway walk since then?
SR:
Not a lot. I need to get in some classes I think. I need some serious help. (Laughs)

AE: What happened? It seemed like you were so frightened of falling that it might have tripped you up, actually.
SR:
Yeah, well, I have a 7½ foot and all the shoes are 9s and 10s, so that doesn’t help at all, and plus after the first initial trip, it’s just in your head that you’re going to trip and that was probably my biggest;  I mean it was more myself versus myself than myself versus the runway, you know?

AE: So what are your plans for the future? Are you still interested in modeling?
SR:
Yeah, definitely. I think I want to move out to L.A. I just don’t think New York and me would mix too well, so I think I want to move out to L.A. eventually, maybe December or January, and I know people out there now, so hopefully it’ll be good.

AE: That’s great. Well, people will want to talk to you about this in L.A. All the time.
SR:
Great (laughs).

AE: What is one thing that you want to tell people that you haven’t been able to tell them before about your experience on the show?
SR:
I guess I don’t think it’s necessarily fair for them to judge me when they really don’t know what it was like in there at all, or what I’m like. If someone’s been on the show and they’ve experienced it, then it’s okay, but I don’t really think it’s fair for anyone to judge me at this point about my decisions or anything I did on the show, because they don’t know what it was like there.

AE: Who do you think is judging you?
SR:
I guess just the public in general, and a lot of radio stations here in the Midwest trashed me, and the boy who was on the phone, even, he called and trashed me and called me a lesbian. So it’s a lot harder in the Midwest than it is in L.A. because L.A.’s so accepting.

AE: Well, there are plenty of people I know who would be happy to call you a lesbian and not think that it’s a slur.
SR:
Well, thanks (laughs).

To learn more about Cycle 5‘s Sarah Rhodes, visit her bio page here.

Source: AfterEllen.com
Source: The CW