Knight High School graduate and U.S. Navy veteran Justinavery “Justin” Palm is one of 16 singles featured in the new season of MTV’s dating competition “Are You The One?”
The season premiere is at 9 p.m., June 26, on MTV.
The cast members spent a month in Hawaii with the hope of finding their perfect match and the chance to split a $1 million cash prize. The twist for season 8 is that all 16 cast members are sexually fluid, meaning there are no gender limitations in finding the perfect match.
Palm, 24, grew up in Palmdale. He attended Wildflower Elementary School. He graduated from Knight High in 2012. He served six years in the Navy, got out last November, and moved to New York. He works as a bartender at a popular bar in Midtown Manhattan and also studies forensics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“It was kind of my plan leaving the military,” he said in a telephone interview. “I wanted to one, have a fun, flexible job and two, pursue education.”
Serendipity played a big part in Palm’s introduction to “Are You The One?”
During his first week in New York City, he attended a concert by Canadian DJ REZZ.
“It was very evident during the concert, by the way I was acting and my interactions with other people, that I was very bi-sexual,” Palm said.
He met someone whose sister is a casting agent. The friend’s sister happened to be in town casting for “Are You The One?” The friend recommended Palm audition.
“After that, it was a pretty long process, but it was worth my wait for each step in the hurdle. And before I knew it, I was flying out to L.A. to do my final interviews and I got picked up for the show,” he said, adding it was an exciting process.
Palm wasn’t familiar with “Are You The One?” before he auditioned for it.
“I’m not really a big TV junkie,” he said. “But once I started applying for it and actually seeing what the show was, I was very excited by what I saw because it looked like a lot of fun. It looked like an exciting, life-changing experience.”
The cast lived in a large home in Kona on Hawaii’s big island for one month. They filmed the series in April.
“Hawaii is absolutely amazing,” Palm said.
The 15 cast members, all 20-something singles, met when they all arrived at the house.
“I was extremely excited, obviously,” he said. “This is the first time in my life that I’ve had the privilege of being in a house with all these sexually fluid people.”
Palm added, that based on his experience going through the casting process, he was excited to see what kind of crazy personalities and interesting people he would spend the month with.
“You kind of have to fight for some voice in that house, otherwise you’ll get completely shut out,” he said.
Palm said his friends and family back home in Palmdale look forward to the show.
“They’re all extremely excited,” he said. I’ve been open for quite some time now and they all support me. I had the privilege of growing up where the majority of people are supporting and are allies.”
He added the times are changing, and a mainstream program such as “Are Your The One?” featuring a sexually fluid cast of singles goes a long way toward normalizing it.
“I think that despite some people being kind of apprehensive at first, that they’ll slowly become more and more accepted,” Palm said. “That’s what my goal was in doing this, to be a part of something larger than myself.”
Although the goal is to find a perfect match, he also made a lot of new friends.
“At first it was kind of a struggle in the house,” Palm said.
In previous seasons that featured heterosexual singles, half of the house was technically off-limits.
“For us it was definitely something to learn to deal with because everyone is a possible match,” he said. “So that means that you can’t necessarily have friends in the house without considering them as a possible match.”
He added because anyone in the house could be a match that could also make you feel lonely at times. Whereas in previous seasons, the heterosexual singles “had 10 automatic friends.”
“I think throughout the entire experience, we kind of adapted to that and just had a very open and loving and accepting environment, despite the fact that everyone was a possibility for everyone else,” Palm said.
Based on a preview of the first episode, the action started right away, on day one.
“I wish I could tell you that it dies down, but it definitely does not,” he said. “If anything, it amps up and it keeps on going. It will be a rollercoaster the entire time, just hang on.”