In the reality series, Mitchum joins a group of friends as they let loose during a summer at the titular island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts for the summer. It was one of the first beach destinations where Black professionals could vacation and purchase property so it is rich with history — not to mention an escape for the rich, famous, and politically connected.
Joining Mitchum on the series were his fraternity brother Silas Cooper and his wife Jasmine Ellis Cooper. In addition the series features Nicholas “Nick” Arrington, Jordan Emanuel, Bria Fleming, Shanice Henderson, Amir Lancaster, Jason Lyke, Summer Marie Thomas, and Alex Tyree.
Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard is a refreshing take on similar shows that traditionally include a majority white cast. For Mitchum, it means the world to him that he has the opportunity to represent the Black community, but the queer community as well. As we are in Pride month, GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos interviewed to Mitchum about what Pride means to him, he leans into the history of it all.
“I always want to remember the history of Pride, which is why I always say pride is and was and always will be a riot,” said Mitchum. “I just always want to honor our ancestors and our ancestors who really set the foundation for us to be able to celebrate pride. I think pride also was love and liberation, freedom, joy and all of those things.”
He contiuned, “As we think about all of the anti-LGBTQ legislation; as we think about suicidal ideations increasing; as we think about young folks who don’t really know who they are and are sometimes being prohibited even when they do know who they are. — Pride means all of those things. But for me, it’s really an act of joy and love and resistance.”
Mitchum said when he thought of how queer folks — especially Black queer folks were on television they would be portrayed through a stereotypical lens or as a caricature. While on the show, Mitchum says he wants to be as intellectual, drunk, and wild as he wants to be. He wanted to show all of the dimensions of who he is on or off camera.
“That is how I want to show up,” he said. “I just think there’s something so beautiful about me being with a group of my friends… who are all straight [and] who just let me be, right? And even if they didn’t let me be, I was gonna be anyway. I’m grateful that Bravo and that fans are able to see that… I just treat it like a badge of honor.”
Even though the show has hook ups, drunk moments, and other normal reality series fare, Mitchum talked about how there were very important conversations about Black culture, identity and including his own. “One thing that is true about the Black community is that we are going to have every type of conversation that you can find possible,” he said. “Some of it will feel hard in some moments, but it’s necessary for community building.”
As the only queer member, Mitchum came into the show with a partner who is very supportive. Neither of them expected for Mitchum to be on reality TV, yet here we are. “I have spent my career as an attorney,” he said. “I’ve worked for massive organizations like the Trevor Project and the Center for American Progress and small organizations and that for me was my life trajectory. That is just what I saw it as, until this opportunity came about and I had to really think about my partner, my friendships, my relationships, like these people are also going to be involved in all of this unintentionally or intentionally.” His partner remained supportive despite all of Mitchum’s reservations.
Mitchum added that as the only queer person on the show, he always want some more queer representation. “I’m never comfortable being the only one… no shade,” he admitted. “I think there are some of us who are comfortable with being the only one. It’s nothing that I want because I want all of us to eat. I want all of us to be able to have access to different things.” He said that there is even more opportunity for queerness for future seasons because he and his partner are open about their non-monogamy and what exploring relationships look like. “There still needs to be conversations about respect, love, pride and what that looks like,” Mitchum said, adding he hopes there is an opportunity to have conversations about queer love and sex on Summer House.
Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard airs Sundays at 9pm on Bravo.