Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The GAYmazing Race



I love The Amazing Race. I love it because you don't get voted off if of group of strangers doesn't like you, you get the boot because you came in last place. It's a race, y'all. And I like The Race because they always have gay racers, or gay couples, on, and they don't make a big deal about it; it's just a side note to the story. But it shows that we're out there and we're like everyone else.

So, imagine my surprise, my dismay, when I learned that this season they had four gay contestants. Four! But they only identified two of them as gay. Mel White and Mike White, father and son--though technically Mike is bisexual. I learned the young deaf boy, Luke, is also gay; and Kisha Hoffman is a lesbian.

Four gay racers and yet, only Mike and Mel were ever identified as such. Why is that?

Apparently, when Luke found out that Mel and Mike were to be identified as gay, he asked for the same. Luke is an out gay man who happens to be deaf; or he's a deaf man who happens to be an out gay man. But in an interview with AfterElton after he and his son were eliminated from the race, Mel White he talked about what he was told about Luke's desire to be identified as deaf and gay. According to Mel, after Luke “found out that Mike and I were being billed as gay, he wanted to be billed as gay,” but a producer said—and this is Mel paraphrasing a conversation he had with an unnamed producer—‘No, we’re establishing you as what we want you to be established. He’s established as deaf. You’re established as gay, so don’t be interrupting what we're trying to do here.’”
Mel adds that “they were very clear about not wanting to muddy the waters by bringing in another issue.”

Muddy the waters? Do the producers think the audience can't handle knowing that more than one contestant is gay; or do they think we'll tune out because there's a deaf, gay man on the show? I'd always thought of The Race as being progressive and open, but now it seems like they want to create labels for contestants, and damn them if the contestant wants to be known for something else.

In addition to Mel and Mike, and Luke, LaKisha “Kisha” Hoffman is also gay, but not identified as such on the program. She is "openly gay"according to CBS which airs The Amazing Race, and she is, by all accounts, the first openly gay woman of color on the show, and yet it is not mentioned, on the show, or in the press package delivered to the media about the show and its contestants.

What difference does it make, CBS, if you have more than one gay racer, or one gay couple racing? It isn't about the orientation of the racers, it's about their skill as racers, the way they race, that interests us. Don't hide the gay folks because you feel you've got enough for this season.

They're here, they're queer, and they're racing.

1 comment:

RAD said...

OMG I knew it! My gay dar went off on both of them--hmmm...I cant belive The AR people would not make that known...they are scared for the viewership loss I guess...so sad! shame shame CBS