Corey Lay was one of the breakout stars of HBO Max’s 12 Dates of Christmas where he competed alongside many other hunky guys for the heart of its leading man Garrett Marcantel.
Love didn’t pan out for them nor did it happen for any of the other men with Garrett as revealed in the show’s glitzy reunion hosted by Drag Race alumni Shangela.
Corey definitely had his moments with Garrett that became memorable as the series progressed. He was also a favorite for reasons that included his charming persona, outspokenness and bold and vibrant attitude that fans couldn’t get enough.
He chatted with us about his time on 12 Dates as well as where he stands with Garrett today, if he’d come back for a 2nd season and his future plans as his career continues to soar.
How did you get cast for this amazing show?
It was the craziest thing! I got a DM on Instagram asking me if I would be interested in a Christmas-themed dating show. I think I was at the gym when I saw it and the first thing I did was Google the name of the person contacting me to make sure it was legit. Within 30 minutes we were on our first phone call together and I was sold! The casting process for me was around 3 weeks long – tons of phone calls, zoom meetings, and questionnaires to fill out. Next thing I knew I was boarding a plane to Austria!
What was your favorite part about filming especially being in Austria?
Doing things I would never normally do! I am a beach bum from Southern California – I’ve never really been to the snowy mountains before. Being able to explore the Alps on one of my dates was incredible! I also love to cook, but I’ve never really explored the world of baking pastries. Learning how to cook an apple strudel from scratch was super fun. I took that knowledge and made one for Christmas this year too.
Can you break down your time with Garrett. What were your feelings like for him while filming and how different are they today?
When I first arrived in to the castle and met Garrett he instantly checked off the boxes of what I typically look for in a partner. Charismatic, driven, worldly, and fun! It was very easy to feel an attraction for him because we have a lot in common. I felt a romantic spark with him that I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, that spark wasn’t a mutual feeling. Feeling that rejection in the castle was tough – I had convinced myself before I arriving that I would let my walls down and meet the man I’d introduce to my family for the first time.
By the time I left the castle though, Garret and I built such a good rapport as friends. We have very compatible personalities and when I realized that I wasn’t going to have a romantic connection with him I still appreciated him for who he was. To this day he is still a very close friend of mine! Him and I text and FaceTime constantly! I want nothing from the best for him.
Let’s also dive into the reunion and you confronting him. Can you tell us more about that?
Watching myself go through my biggest insecurities was tough. I knew going in to the 12 Dates of Christmas: Unwrapped reunion special that I needed to express exactly what lead to my breakdown. I needed to communicate that dismissing my emotional reality as “needy” and “wanting attention” wasn’t fair. I needed to insure other people who are sensitive and vulnerable like me had their voices heard. I also needed to make sure I spoke up for gay Black men who are often left out of the conversation on reality dating shows.
I had a lot inside I needed to express, so that I could let it go and move forward. My intention was never to berate Garrett – but as an emotional person my words come with a lot of passion behind them. I think we had a great conversation and by the end of it he was able to understand more of how I felt. I hope we both learned some great lessons we will carry forward in to our next relationships.
Did you think he was the best fit for this or do you think one of your fellow castmates should’ve been the main suitor?
It’s tough to say who would’ve been the “best” fit. I truly don’t know how myself or anyone else would have dealt with the pressure of being the main suitor. Dating is tough and letting people down is tougher. I probably would’ve made my own mistakes if I were in Garrett’s position. The best thing we all did was be true to ourselves at every point along the journey.
What was Shangela like during the reunion?
AMAZING! I was shocked when I learned Shangela was going to be the host. Little known fact: I was her personal trainer all of 2019. Our relationship outside of this experience made it so much easier for me to be open about everything I felt.
Shangela did an amazing job of asking the tough questions, being hilarious, and keeping us all engaged for the entire time. Even some of the straight cast members who weren’t as familiar with her became huge fans by the time we wrapped. I’d kill for Shangela to have her own show, she’s such a natural hosting!
If they chose you as the lead for s2 would you do it?
100% yes! I saw others fall in love through this experience and I believe in it now more than ever. Black gay men deserve to find love too, and I’d love to share that with the world.
What do you have planned coming up that our viewers should know about?
I plan on jumping back in to in-person and online personal training in 2021! This past year threw me for a loop and I paused training while I was settling in to this new pandemic life. I am looking forward to helping others reach their health and fitness goals!
Be sure to also watch our exclusive IGTV video with Corey below: