The latest season of the Emmy-winning reality competition The Amazing Race proved to be one of the most LGBT-friendly ever, featuring gay/deaf finalist Luke Adams, who competed against lesbian Kisha Hoffman and her sister, and gay activist Mel White and his bisexual screenwriter son, Mike.
Traveling over 40,000 miles across nine countries, twenty-three year old Luke and his mom, Margie, came just shy of winning the million dollar grand prize, finishing in third place, but they succeeded in winning over a number of fans in the LGBT community. glaadBLOG was lucky enough to talk to Luke recently about his experience as an openly gay deaf contestant on one of the most popular reality shows on TV.
Hi Luke! Thanks for reaching out to GLAAD to share your story!
No problem! I’m excited about it!
Other than the million dollars, what was your motivation for competing on the race?
To have a once in a lifetime experience. I have always wanted to travel around the world. It was like an ideal vacation to me and the best part was it's a free trip around the world!
How do you feel your deafness affected you during the race?
To some extent, I was paranoid at some points because I had no idea what exactly was going on around me so I had to rely on my mom for the information. Also, my mom couldn't mention every detail because its easier for her to point the main ones, so it was little tough for me to be not aware and it made my social game little harder. It also affected which detour tasks we could do.
Were you disappointed to have not been identified as gay on the show?
Yes and no. I mean, it is a part of who I am. I don't want people to get the wrong idea that I’m ashamed of my sexual orientation. I'm proud of being a gay man. It’s just that CBS chose to focus on my deafness as my main storyline. I was pretty out to everyone on the show though.
What challenges have you encountered as a gay and deaf person who can’t read lips?
Well, not a lot of dating options! Not a lot of gay guys know sign language and the gay and deaf community is pretty small so the dating pool shrinks for me, haha! There's an old fashioned way to do it, with a pen and notepad - write on pad back and forth. But sometimes guys find it awkward because they're not used to that kind of communication method.
I have heard several comments from people, like "wow, you're deaf and you're gay too? That must be really hard for you!" Really, it hasn’t been hard on me, being a gay and deaf man. I don't feel anything differently. People treat me the same as others. I'm a human being like everyone else.
As a member of such a small community, do you feel a greater sense of responsibility now that you've attained a degree of fame?
Yeah, that’s how I felt right before going into that final challenge. I knew that the community would be so thrilled to have my mom and me winning the whole race so I felt like a big weight was on my shoulder as we showed up at the surfboard challenge. I didn't want to blow it and let them down.
But even making it to the finals, you’ve become a huge inspiration to a lot of people even though you didn’t win.
Yeah, I know. I just thought that winning the race would make a big impact you know? We’ve never had a deaf person win a reality show before so I thought it would open people's eyes, but a lot of people are saying it did anyway.
Were you familiar with Mel and Mike’s work before the Race?
No, I had no idea who they were! My mom asked me to see if I had seen School of Rock and I said, “isn’t that a music movie?” She said yeah then I was like, “obviously, I didn't watch it because I don’t listen to music.”
So what’s next for you?
I am not sure yet. Trying to figure it out what to do with my life. I would like to travel little more. It would be awesome if I could be a spokesperson and make a difference in people's lives
Well I think you're well on your way to doing that!
I hope so!