A lesbian feminist heads to the wilds of Alabama on this week’s “Naked & Afraid”

This Sunday night, Discovery Channel’s survivalist challenge TV series, Naked and Afraid, returns with an all-new season, and one of the competitors trying to stay alive for 21 days in the wilderness is out recreational therapist Chalese Meyer. Paired with artist Steven Hall, Chalese says she stuck out the full three weeks in an Alabama forest by having the willpower and wherewithal to let go of any kind of discomfort surrounding her nudity and instead focusing on the tasks at hand, like fending off rattlesnakes, braving rainstorms and foraging for food.

Discovery Channel

We spoke with Chalese about the experience and what viewers can look forward to on Sunday’s premiere.

AfterEllen.com: So the initial question, why would you want to do this?

Chalese Meyer: [laughs] You know I didn’t know what I was setting myself up for. I don’t have cable; I’ve never seen the show. It kind of just fell in my lap and I thought I’d win a free trip. But once I figured out what it was, I thought, “This is kind of a rad experience that not many people get to do.” And it was exactly that. It was life-transforming. I figured if I could do 21 days in the wilderness naked, I could do anything.


AE: Are you the kind of person that likes the outdoors anyway?

CM: Huge. I have no military background; I’m not a wilderness survival expert. But I live in Utah, and I ski, climb, backpack, hike, I’m a marathon runner. So I’m definitely an endurance athlete.


AE: I can’t imagine a glamping type would do too well at this.

CM: No I’m more of a “chapstick” type.

AE: So you’re an out gay woman, correct? That’s how you identify?

CM: I’m out now. Before I had gone on the show—I’d never with a woman before. I was with a man and had been engaged for eight years. And I had fallen in love with my best friend, so I left him, and I’m with my partner right now. Before the show [started], I had come out to my mom and a few friends, but during the process of the show, they wanted us to be open and vulnerable, I kind of just came out, all the way. So the show will kind of show that. And then when I got home before the show has aired, I’d come out to everybody else in my life. 


AE: How nerve-wracking was that for you to come out to the world on television when it sounds like you were coming to terms with it yourself?

CM: Yeah, it’s a little scary because co-workers don’t really know. I kind of keep my private life my private life, so it is gonna be—everybody who follows me on Instagram knows, but they don’t really know, you know? It’s intimidating, but it’s also really freeing. I just don’t give a fuck, you know? And it’s good to not feel that way anymore.