Before Geo Bustamante could even tell his husband that he would be competing on “Survivor,” Bustamante had already auditioned, been named an alternate, officially cast and traveled to Fiji for filming and back.
His spouse of seven years, who serves in the Air Force, was deployed to Africa at the same time.
“He supports me 100% on everything I do … and I support him 100% on his job, too,” said Bustamante, who has been watching “Survivor” for roughly a decade.
As a military spouse, Bustamante said he has had to learn to adapt to new cultures – something that would become an advantage on the show competing alongside and against 17 other “castaways.” The 43rd iteration of “Survivor” premieres Sept. 21 on CBS and Global.
“My experience as a military spouse has been honestly amazing because I’m the type of person, I like to experience new things, I like to adapt to new things,” he said.
For the past year and a half, Bustamante and his husband have been stationed in Hawaii, where Bustamante said everyone is “a little more in touch with nature.”
“It has allowed me to go on hikes, diving … In a way that has been preparing me to take that challenge to be on the show as well,” he said.
It was during a COVID-19-pandemic watch of the show that Bustamante made the choice, after years of being a fan, to audition.
“I decided to just go for it and challenge myself,” Bustamante said, “challenge my nerves, me being shy.”
While he’s nervous to see himself on TV – a first for him – he said it’s also exciting for viewers to see someone like him – a gay, Latino immigrant – reflected in the cast, like he did as a fan.
“Seeing people like me who have an accent … [or are] not necessarily the biggest or the strongest, that motivated me to go for it,” he said. “So don’t be afraid, you can shine as bright as anybody out there.”
As a self-proclaimed “Survivor” super fan, Bustamante said his time on the show was “the most amazing experience.” One he struggled to put into words.
“When I was young, I used to be homeless and I grew up in a very poor area in the ghetto … Now I get to be on my favorite TV show,” he said. “You should never give up on your dreams.”