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Gay couple on Bravo’s new season of ‘Newlyweds’ includes ex-Utahn, ex-Mormon

First Published      Last Updated Jan 02 2016 06:39 pm

Television » Couple say Bravo reality series will show that their marriage is no different from others.

Utah's struggle for legalized gay marriage is about to take center stage once again — on a cable TV reality series.

Season 3 of Bravo's "Newlyweds: The First Year" starting Sunday features husbands Brandon Liberati and Craig Ramsay. And, while the couple live in California, Liberati is a Salt Lake City native who grew up in a Mormon family.

"Utah is a huge part of my story, of our story," Liberati said. "And we talk about it in the show."

He talks about the "great times" and having "some of the hardest times of my life there. Everyone knows that being gay in Utah is still quite a struggle, even though marriage is legal now. We really give people outside of Utah a look at the struggle that the gay community goes through inside the state."

"Newlyweds" follows four couples through the first year of their marriage. Liberati and Ramsay are the only same-sex couple, and they believe appearing on a show with three straight couples will underline the fact that "our relationship is no different than anyone else's," Ramsay said.

""One of the main reasons we did this was for marriage equality," Liberati said. "To actually show people who had fear about the [Supreme Court] decision [legalizing gay marriage] that we're actually no different than any other married couple."

(Season 1 of "Newlyweds" featured a gay male couple; Season 2 featured a lesbian couple.)

Like other couples, Liberati and Ramsay argue at times. Like other couples, they struggle to start a family.

"We have to create our families. And it's done in such a loving way," Ramsay said. "Hopefully, it's going to resonate — especially with people in Salt Lake City — that we have really strong family values."

The other three couples aren't representing anything other than themselves. Liberati and Ramsay are aware they will, unavoidably, be symbols for gay marriage, although Ramsay, in particular, resists the idea that they are role models, pointing to some advice he once got from Rosie O'Donnell.

"She said, 'You can't be a role model. All you can be is yourself. And if it's relatable to others, it's up to others to put you into that category,' " he said.

"With that said, I do feel like we have a huge responsibility to our community in how we portray ourselves and change people's attitudes toward our marriage — toward gay marriage," Liberati said.

And they both said that, while they'd been together for four years before they got married, walking down the aisle changed things.

Other people — including family members — saw them differently "as soon as we were legally married," Liberati said. "It was almost like we started being treated like we were a real couple then."

The couple are not unfamiliar with celebrity or reality TV. Liberati is a celebrity makeup expert and hairstylist whose work has been featured on TV and in movies; Ramsay is a fitness expert who trains celebrity clients. He was a regular in the Bravo reality series "Thintervention" and was seen training contestants on "RuPaul's Drag Race."

Together, they operate Fit + Phab (fitandphab.com), "a one-stop shop for all your beauty, fitness and wellness needs."

"Growing up in Utah has definitely made me who I am today," Liberati said. "That has given me a thick skin. So I can actually handle anything Hollywood throws at me.

"But my family and I still have personal struggles … as far as being accepted. It's been quite a process for all of us."

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The 90-minute Season 3 premiere of “Newlyweds: The First Year” airs Sunday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Hourlong episodes begin airing in their regular timeslot — Wednesdays at 11 p.m. — on Wednesday, Jan. 6.