(This story was published in 2007).

By: Ross Forman

J.P. Calderon was closeted, despite accurate rumors that he was gay, during his run on CBS-TV’s Survivor: Cook Islands. Now Calderon, 32, of Southern California, will be honored Oct. 12, at Runway ALMA in Chicago at the annual benefit for the Association of Latino Men for Action.

“It’s like a double reward – for my Hispanic heritage and for being gay,” said Calderon, of Costa Rican descent who, in the late-1990s, was a standout volleyball player for Long Beach State University and then spent two years (2004-’05) on the AVP circuit.

“I’m so excited; I’m honored. Are you kidding me? To be recognized, and celebrated, by people of your same heritage is great, an honor. It feels awesome. Growing up, I struggled (with my ethnicity) and now it’s really nice to be recognized for being Hispanic, because I am very proud of who I am.

“It’s nice to be recognized for being gay because, well, it kind of gives me closure. I’m getting an award for something that, for so long, I was so scared to be. Now people are commending me for it. I guess, in some ways, I’ve helped others.”

This summer, Calderon coached two youth teams for the Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball Club. “I’m starting to get the itch again to go play, so I’m going to shoot for next summer again on the beach,” he said.

Calderon confirmed he no longer is single. “I’m dating someone, yes, but I cannot reveal his name,” he said.

Anyone we would have heard of?

“Possibly, yeah. He’s not an actor; he’s an athlete. But he’s not out,” Calderon said.