How A Catfish Helped Dustin Live His Truth As A Gay Man

Keegan served as a mentor -- and a bit of a heartbreaker

Catfish’s newest episode challenged a 24-year-old gay man to examine whether his strong emotions for an Internet crush were, indeed, love, or whether they were simply admiration for someone who seemed more comfortable being gay.

On tonight's installment, Nev and Kamie reached out to Dustin, a Floridian whose teenage coming out was met with judgment and contempt from family. Dustin said over Zoom that his stepfather was so dismayed to learn he's gay, the man forced Dustin into dangerous conversion therapy.

Dustin’s consequent journey into adulthood was not easy, but he said one thing that gave his 16-year-old self hope was meeting a fellow teenager named Keegan on Facebook. Keegan, a Vermont native who seemed effortlessly out and proud, began to serve as a “safe harbor” for Dustin and was always able to make him feel at ease.

But, although conversations became a daily fixture as the years passed, Keegan had a way of cyclically breaking Dustin’s heart. In one particularly brutal instance, years after they’d first chatted, Keegan invited Dustin to live with him in Boston. Just when it seemed as though Dustin’s love story was taking shape, Keegan pulled the plug and said he’d found someone new.

So why did Dustin keep going back?

“I look at [Keegan] as my whole foundation of coming out,” he said. “It’s the most personal relationship I’ve ever had with anybody.”

But, fed up with Keegan’s hot-and-cold routine, Dustin said it was time to finally put the mystery to bed, and so, Nev and Kamie got going on some independent research.

In just a few minutes, the Catfish team found that Keegan — who had a pair of Facebook profiles — appeared to be involved with a man named Kyle. Kyle, who lived in Massachusetts, was a recurring character in Keegan’s photos. Worse, when Nev searched Keegan’s phone number, the result said the device was registered to Kyle.

And it wouldn’t be long before the group encountered Kyle themselves, as — after Nev texted Keegan’s number to arrange a years-in-the-making chat — Kyle suddenly appeared on the live call instead.

Kyle, spooked, quickly abandoned the conversation, only for Keegan — the real Keegan — to join minutes later. Keegan said Kyle had previously lent him a phone when Keegan’s was shut off, which accounted for the crossed wires. Keegan added that Kyle was “too much” as a friend and that he was trying to create some distance between them.

This, the group began to learn, was a bit of a habit for Keegan.

“[Dustin and I] were really great at helping each other out as emotional and mental support,” Keegan said privately to Kam and Nev. “I’ve always been willing to be there for Dustin…but when I give him a little, he takes it all. It’s like that type of person…I kind of backed away.”

But when Kamie and Nev read Keegan the letter Dustin had written about him — which spelled out deep, stark feelings — Keegan’s heart appeared to break, and he began to cry.

“I didn’t realize what I had helped you through, what you still carried on your back,” Keegan told Dustin once the latter had logged back into the chat. “I’m sorry.”

Dustin, who never knew quite where to place Keegan in his life, accepted the apology and committed to being more discerning about his feelings. But do you think he’ll be able to do so? And will he and Keegan salvage some sort of connection? Share your thoughts, then tune in to another Catfish Wednesday at 8/7c.