BY John Jameson
May 20 2009 12:00 AM ET
Reichen Lemhkuhl and then-partner Chip Arndt won season 4 of The Amazing Race , and now a second gay man has finished in the top three. But Luke Adams was known to viewers not for being gay ... but for being deaf.
Luke, 23, and his mother, Margie, made a formidable team, finishing consistently in the top four throughout the competition, and they were just one surfboard short of winning the million-dollar first prize.
In a reality show that has competitors traversing continents and cultures, communication is crucial to a team's success, and Luke's being deaf would seem to put his team at a distinct disadvantage.
Quite the contrary. Luke and his mom have developed a special line of communication -- a hybrid of standardized American Sign Language and home sign -- that served them well on the show, enabling them to work out strategies and tactics in front of other competitors without giving anything away.
Advocate.com caught up with Luke a few days after the May 10 airing of the final episode of season 14, which showed Team Victor and Tammy clinching first place, Cara and Jaime in second, and Luke and Margie in third.
Advocate.com:You guys taped this season of The Amazing Race last November. When did you get to screen the episodes?Luke Adams: When it premiered on TV in February. We didn't get any special treatment from the producers. We just watched it along with the rest of the TV viewing audience.
Had you told your family how well you placed?No, we kept it a secret. We wanted them to be surprised that we made it to the final three.
You applied several times to be on Race before finally being accepted. How did you convince your mom to join you? It wasn't that hard to convince her to try out with me because she didn't think we would be selected! So the joke was on her! But we've always had a very close relationship. She's a great mom who has always supported everything I do.
Tell me about coming out to your family.I came out to my mom at 19, when I was in college in Rochester, N.Y. I texted her -- she was back home in Colorado -- but I was pretty nervous about it. I come from a large family with a lot of cousins, but there aren't any other gay people in our family, so I wasn't sure how she would react. But she was very supportive and said, "It's about time you told me!" adding that she knew I was gay before I did. I joked that she should have just told me instead of letting me try to figure it out on my own.