Interview with Margie and Luke from “The Amazing Race”

Luke and Margie Adams

It was the gayest season ever of The Amazing Race, and also one of the best ever. Coincidence? I don’t think so. There was father and son Mel and Mike White, who are both gay; sisters Kisha and Jen, (Kisha is a lesbian); one person who apparently isn’t out of the closet; and, finally, Luke Adams and his mom Margie.

Luke and Margie were the only team with a gay member to make it to the final three, and while they didn’t quite make it over the finish line first, they ran an impressive race — especially considering Luke is deaf, a potential drawback in a race where quick communication can be vital.

While the show never identified Luke as gay, this 24-year-old Coloradan is out and proud — and especially proud of the fact that he’s the youngest gay man to ever make it to the final three. There were a lot of firsts on this season of The Amazing Race, but I’ll let Luke tell us about them later. He is the resident TAR expert, after all. Congratulations, guys!

Margie Adams:
Thank you. Thank you so much.

AE: You were the first mother and son to make it to the final three, correct?

: I think so, Luke would know better than me.

Luke Adams: Yes.

AE: Luke, you’re not only the first deaf racer on the show, but also the youngest gay person to make it to the final three. What did it mean for you guys to be on The Amazing Race and make it so far?

: It’s incredible. I think we still think we’re dreaming.

AE: Luke, from our interview with Mel White, we understand you are openly gay and wanted to be identified as such, but the TAR producers didn’t want to. Do you feel they missed out on a chance to represent an extremely under-represented segment of the gay and lesbian community?

: CBS didn’t want to add too many labels, a gay this or a gay that. Mel and Mike were very open about being gay, that was their team. I think the focus on my team with my mom was the fact that I was deaf, not that I was gay. I think they didn’t want to confuse people by adding too many labels to me.

MA: [laughs] There are a lot of labels that could be on him!
LA: A lot of people have misconceptions that I like Cara and Jamie [pictured, right], and that’s not true. We’re friends, of course, but my interest in them is not like that. [laughs]

AE: What dating challenges do you face as a young, gay deaf man that a hearing person might not?
: It’s the same.

MA: I think his dating options are fewer. [laughs]
LA: Dating for me might be a little harder because of the communication issue. I need to find someone to date who is willing to have patience and learn sign, and is willing to understand the deaf culture. I suppose that could be an issue.

AE: What message would you most like the hearing gay community to take away from your time on the show?

: I don’t know. When I was in the race, I was really focused. That’s not who I am. I’m not the same person I was on the race. I want people to know I’m the same as all other people except I can’t hear. That’s the only difference.

AE: Margie, how did you react when Luke came out?

: Luke told me when he was nineteen and he was a freshman in college. He told me in a text message from school, because that’s how we communicate, through text or relay, and I said, "Okay. Thank you for telling me. Why did you wait so long?" He was surprised and said, "What?"

LA: No, no, no, Mom. I wanted to make sure I was actually gay. There was a time in my life that I was a little bit confused. I felt kind of both ways about it, but I wanted to make sure before I said anything to you that I was gay.

MA: Yeah, well, Luke sends me this text message and says, "I have something really important to tell you, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings and I don’t want you to be mad, but I’m gay." And I was like, "Thank you for telling me." And he was like, "You’re not mad?" And I just said, "Why would I be mad? I’ve known your whole life." [laughs]

It doesn’t change who Luke is. He’s my son. He’s a wonderful person. If he likes a man or likes a woman, that doesn’t make any difference to me. I just want him to be happy. I called his sister when he told me, and said, "Hey, Luke finally came out." And she said, "Oh, it’s about time." [laughs] There was no drama, no surprise. Nothing really changed except I think Luke was able to take a breath and be himself a little more around us.

LA: Actually, I felt a lot better after I did come out to my mom.

AE: Luke, do you have a boyfriend? I see your Facebook profile says "in a relationship."

: I’m single.

MA: And looking…

AE: I’ll be sure to stress that Mom said he’s looking!
: [laughs]

AE: Back to the show. The two of you have such a great relationship, and your closeness really seemed to play to your advantage in the game — especially your ability to communicate using sign language. Were there ever times when Luke’s hearing impairment was a distinct disadvantage?

: I think when we were on the rickshaw in Phuket, Thailand. He was just out of my reach so I couldn’t get his attention. I couldn’t touch him to get him to stop, I couldn’t give him directions, so if he was running, I couldn’t get his attention. That was really frustrating for me. He was just out of reach, even with the hat or whatever. That was the one time I think we had a disadvantage.

AE: Margie, Phil nicknamed you the bionic woman, and for good reason — you were like superwoman for most of the race, annihilating much younger competition on both physical and mental challenges right up till the end. What’s your secret? How do you stay in such amazing shape?
: [laughs] Well, you know, in truth, I’m not really in such amazing shape.

LA: Yes, you are mom. Yes, you are.

MA: I don’t know. I exercise pretty regularly, not too extreme or anything like that. I run two or three miles a couple times a week, I go to the gym a couple times a week. I don’t have a trainer or anything like that. I just try to take care of myself. The Colorado lifestyle lends itself to being healthy. There are so many beautiful places to hike.

When it’s nice, you just want to be outside.
And I’m fortunate; I come from a large family, I have five brothers and three sisters, and we’re all pretty athletic, we’re all pretty natural athletes. We were brought up playing sports, running, swimming, and things like, so I’ve always been exposed to things like that. It’s just part of who I am. I don’t go out of my way to exercise or anything like that. I guess I’m just very fortunate.

AE: what was the hardest challenge? Was it the rickshaw challenge?

: The makeup challenge! I have no skill for how to put makeup on.

MA: And it was frustrating for me because he did such a horrible job and made me look so horrible, that… [laughs] You know what? I don’t think there was a physical challenge that we really minded. The rickshaw challenge when I fainted, that was supposed to be a two mile run, but Luke and I got lost with the help of some British tourists who told us to go to the wrong place, so we ended up going five miles that day.

It was almost a hundred degrees, it was so humid, and we didn’t have water with us. It wasn’t that it was a difficult challenge, it just went too long for us. All the physical challenges were hard, don’t get me wrong, but there was nothing there we didn’t feel like we couldn’t do. It was the mental things like the Chekov puzzle that gave us a little more of a challenge. [laughs]

AE: What was your favorite challenge?

: Carrying the pig and the cheese hill. The first challenge and the last challenge.

MA: Those were the favorites for me, too. We lived in Hawaii for three years; Luke’s dad was in the army. We didn’t live on Maui, but going back to Hawaii for the final leg of the race was really fun for us. We’d been to many luaus, so it was a really cool ending to the race for us because we were back in a place we were very comfortable in, and familiar with the culture. It was just awesome to be back there. So yeah, the first and the last were amazing for us, even though we didn’t win the last. [laughs]

AE: Do you regret the fight with Kisha and Jen? Have you guys made up or is there still some animosity there?

: No, there’s no animosity left. We totally regret…

LA: Maybe a little awkward.

MA: Yeah, it’s definitely awkward, but the race was such a wonderful experience, everything single minute was fabulous, and to have just that one, short, brief moment on the race when things didn’t go well… It was just an awkward time. There were a lot of misunderstandings, a lot of hurt feelings. We were exhausted. We’ve definitely made up with Kisha and Jen. We have so much respect for those women. They are fantastic athletes. They are wonderful women who contribute so much to the community with their jobs. They’re just fantastic people. That is the one regret we have on the race that one little brief skirmish we had.

Kisha and Jen

AE: Were you close to any of the other teams?

: Cara and Jamie, and Tammy and Victor.

AE: That was nice that you all ended up in the final three, then.

: Yes. Actually, the first night of the race, when we stopped in Lucarte, Switzerland at the church, it was the day after Halloween, All Souls Day, which is a holy day in Switzerland, so a lot of the stores were closed, the streets were deserted. We found a little café that was open, and Cara and Jamie, Tammy and Victor, and Luke and I sat down and we shared one small pizza because we didn’t want to spend our money. We had the nicest evening. We talked about how fun it was to be on the race, and how cool it would be if this was the final three, and how we really liked each other a lot, and we would help each other when we could, and when it was race time, it was race time. We stuck with that through the whole race, and it actually happened that we were the final three teams, so it was pretty cool.

AE: What did you learn about each other that most surprised you?

: The thing that I learned about Luke was how competitive he is. I had never, ever seen that side of him.

LA: Yeah, I’m very competitive.

MA: I mean, Luke has always tried his best. He did really well in school and graduated from college. He’s always done his best, but I never saw that competitive edge to him that I saw on the race. I was so impressed that every challenge, he gave 110% of what he had to complete it. He was so encouraging with me, "You can do it, Mom. Come on." It was just really, really nice to see. Luke’s always been kind of low-key and easygoing, a go-with-the-flow kind of kid, so to see that competitive spirit and nature in him was really nice.

LA: Before the race started, Mom used to doubt herself about her strength. I never doubted my mom for one second. I knew she could do it. I knew with a positive attitude she could do it. I knew she was the right team partner for me.

AE: Thanks for making me cry, Luke.

: [laughs]
LA: And not only me, I think she surprised herself. I don’t think she knew she had those physical capabilities in her when we did those challenges. She’s fifty-one years old, and she’s an amazing person. I’m so proud of her.

Interpreter: And you’re going to make the interpreter cry. [laughs]

AE: This season is being called one of the best ever. Why do you think it worked so well?

: The challenges, the cast chemistry, and a lot of my season had first experiences happen, like mom and me being the first mother and son team to make it to the final three, the first two-woman team to make it to the final three, the first Asian team the make the final three, and the fact that mom and I were in the top four from the beginning to the end.

And people would always say, you’re either in first place or fourth place, you kind of take turns back and forth. I think people watched Phil learn sign language to say we were team number one or four or whatever place we came in. I think people really loved the last four because it was kind of Kisha and Jen against us, and Cara and Jamie against Tammy and Victor. And my season was the first time we used the U-Turn two times and both of them were successful. Last season, no one used a U-Turn or if they did, it failed. In my season, we were successful in using both U-Turns, there were a lot of first times for many different things this season.

MA: I agree, it was really exciting, but I think the number one thing was the chemistry of the teams. We all really liked each other, we respected each other, we saw what great competitors everybody was. We just got along really well. It was really nice. It was a nice group to travel with and just be with.

AE: What’s next for the both of you?

: My fifteen minutes of fame is ticking away here, so I’m going to stay at my job and life goes back to normal.

LA: I’m looking for opportunities. I hope something will come my way soon. And also I hope we’ll be picked for the All-Star team.

MA: [laughs] I need a vacation first.