The day before Lexi Goldberg and her girlfriend Raelyn Cheung-Sutton talked about going on The Ultimatum: Queer Love together, they had a fight about “closet space,” Lexi tells StyleCaster. “This conversation of commitment and moving in together and making space for each other was so relevant on our minds.” The opportunity to join the reality show “dropped out of the middle of the sky,” she recalls, “and no, I don’t think it was like an easy conversation.”
Lexi was the one that issued Rae with the ultimatum: either they get married or break up. Is that ever a good idea, I ask? “I will forever say that an ultimatum is probably not the best thing for your relationship, but it will surely find you the answers to your questions,” she says. “Ultimately, I really felt that it was important for us to know what we were doing with our life. I felt like I didn’t want to spend the next, like, two years maybe dragging our feet in something that wasn’t gonna end up working out. Once she got on board with it, it was like, ‘Let’s do this. And let’s figure out what’s going on.’”
Lexi is acutely aware of how important the show is for queer representation and visibility, because shows like this “certainly didn’t exist for me when I was younger,” she recalls. “I did a lot of YouTube searching of girls kissing girls, and, like, the one-off movies that maybe that existed in, and then when The L Word came along, I was in a deep little hole being like, ‘I’m gonna watch this whole thing by myself’.”
Neither of them did much preparation for the show; the only thing Lexi looked into was making sure she got her co-stars’ pronouns right. “I went into that first day and I’m like, ‘I haven’t gone on a date in like, three years! I certainly didn’t go on a practice one!” she says laughing.
Per the rules of The Ultimatum, Rae and Lexi had to break up, date their other cast members for a week, and then decide who they want to participate in a “trial marriage” for three weeks. They’d then move back in with one another for an additional three weeks and at the conclusion, decide whether they want to leave the show engaged to each other, engaged to someone else, or leave totally single.
StyleCaster spoke with Lexi about the clash with Rae’s chosen “trial wife” Vanessa and how prepared she was for when they had sex.
I don’t know if there’s anything, really. I feel like I gave like 100 percent Lexi every day of the week. In terms of something they would know about me now: I think whatever they’re going to see is very much in alignment with who I am as a person.
What I do speak to quite often is how proud I am of the production being so safe and queer and that’s maybe the one thing I do always want to be grateful for and mention because there is a degree of care that should be handled with queer people in these new spaces. I think they did a really great job of that and it felt really comfortable and natural. Other than that, no, I think they got everything that my friends get on a daily basis of me, maybe just without my dog being there because my dog was living with my parents at the time.
I was also just noticing the ways that she walked into a room. I wasn’t sure if it was performative at first and so I didn’t want to make preemptive judgments about that. That was my gut check, was like, ‘Oh, is this performative? What’s going on?’ And then ultimately, there was just this massive shift that happened.
Honestly, I think from day one, I had this underlying gut feeling that something was poking me in the shoulder being like, ‘Hey, think about this more.’ But I couldn’t realize for a good bit of time if maybe there’s an attraction or feelings there. Or is there something else there? So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that meant.
I remember it as clear as day. I’ll never forget sitting on the bench and just thinking that something is different in the way that she was asking me questions. And ultimately, it just manifested, and I think her catching herself on her toes, it became really clear that with this show, she planned out how she thought it was gonna go, and when it doesn’t go the way you think it’s gonna go—
I will tell every person who wants to be on a reality TV show it never goes the way you want it to. Ever. Don’t ever go into thinking you have a plan because it just won’t work. I think Vanessa’s plan just didn’t work. The second that Xander expressed feelings or emotions for other people there, that didn’t align with what she thought she was going to accomplish on the show.
It was really difficult because I had spent many nights writing and journaling and thinking about what it would mean to explore something with somebody and potentially put my relationship at risk. My bags and my clothes were in our apartment and in Orange County, like, what happens when you leave the show and your life’s blown up?
It was really frustrating because this is a person that I’d invested a lot of my time in. Then, obviously, watching it back and hearing the way she handled herself with her social media presence and whatever else may be, I just think it struck a nerve for me. You see it on every show, it shouldn’t have surprised me maybe as much as it did in the moment. Because it’s, there’s always somebody that’s there for the wrong reasons.
Somebody asked me the other day if Rae and I had a pact. We fully supported each other to explore our trial marriages to the fullest. I think what ultimately struck a nerve for me is that when I deal with people—and relationships in general—your character is of the utmost importance. So that became such a big nerve. For me it was like, ‘It’s not that you slept with someone.’ If it was Mal, sure, it would’ve bothered me but I’m also like, ‘Mal’s the greatest, what am I going to do about that?’ But it’s the person you chose, a person whose character continuously came into question.
We went there to figure things out and ultimately, what transpired was not somebody that she was exploring romantically, it wasn’t somebody that she could see a future with. It was a careless and reckless night with somebody who, ultimately at that point, I’m sure it was a tumble of chaos because Lord knows, she didn’t know what Xander was doing a few apartments down.
It’s something that ended up being a really big talking point for Rae and I after we finished filming: Who do you align with in terms of the people you want in your life? What is our family life gonna look like? How are you going to protect me as a queer woman? As somebody who is Jewish, as somebody who wants to know that our family and our future is handled with care. What are you willing to tolerate? And I wasn’t willing to tolerate Vanessa; I think that’s really clear.
I truly think everything I did was exactly how it was supposed to happen. If I could have done one thing differently, I would have stayed living with Mal for three more weeks. That’s just because leaving was so, so sad. I just loved living with her. So I think beyond that, I truly think I handled everything exactly how I would have liked to and I’m really proud of it watching it back.
I still want to get married, still want to spend my life with somebody. But I do think that it’s important to take time to look at why you want to get married and take that into consideration. We’re not in a rush. We don’t have timelines. This structured and stringent role of what we’re supposed to do and when we’re supposed to do it, I think did change for me. … Listen to yourself, follow your heart, and listen to what you’re thinking, because ultimately, I think it’ll help you reach the right conclusions.
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