Married and

Reichen Lehmkuhl
and Chip Arndt, a gay couple who celebrated their
one-year anniversary during the course of CBS's reality show
The Amazing Race, won the contest's $1
million prize by being the first team to cross the
finish line in Phoenix in the final episode, which
aired on August 21. The duo competed with 11 other
two-person teams, most of which were eliminated one by
one in a race around the world, beginning in Los
Angeles and continuing through Europe, India, Malaysia,
Korea, and Australia. They also competed with their
own demons, as they competed aggressively to stay
ahead of the pack, lost their tempers, and debated
when to come out as a gay couple to the other players.

After winning the
race on that final episode, the duo were shown greeting
all the eliminated players gathered at the finish line,
while they made a dramatic, heartfelt voice-over
statement about how their victory would demonstrate
that gay people are just as capable and have the same values
and goals as everyone else.

It was perhaps
the most revealing and detailed portrait of a real-life
committed same-sex couple seen on network TV—at least
since Team Guido, the long-term San Diego couple who
came in third in The Amazing Race’s first
season. Indeed, Chip and Reichen are the eighth and ninth
openly gay male contestants to take off on The
Amazing Race
(all of whom have spoken to at the end of their journeys). As a couple,
they’ve been together more than five years; as
individuals, they each have intriguing stories of
their own: Reichen, 28, is a pilot, a graduate of the
U.S. Air Force Academy, and a former Air Force officer,
while Chip, 36, is a Yale and Harvard Business School
graduate who is now a financial consultant
specializing in funding entertainment projects.

As dramatic as
the race itself—which involved Chip wrecking a race
car, driving over Reichen’s toes, and running
an SUV he was driving off the road in a tailspin, not
to mention both of them rappelling face-first down
tall buildings and Reichen swimming with sharks—was
the gossip that surrounded their relationship once
they returned home to Los Angeles. Were they still
together? The bars of West Hollywood and the Internet
chat rooms nationwide buzzed with definite confirmations
that, yes, they had broken up and, yes, they were
still together.

Finally, having
been revealed as the winners of the race—beating
second-place finishers, engaged couple Jon and Kelly, by
mere minutes and third-place finishers, David and Jeff
(straight best friends), by about a day—Chip
and Reichen can finally address all the gossip head-on. And
they can start figuring out what to do with that $1

Hey, guys! Congratulations! Six months
later—it’s been, what, six or seven
months since you crossed that finish line in Phoenix?

Reichen: Yeah, we finished on February

You finished on Valentine’s Day?

Reichen: Yeah! Valentine’s Day, so we had to
keep it secret for like six months. It was really
ridiculous because not only did we have to keep it
secret that we’d won $1 million, we had to keep the
secret that we were even on the race. Until June, when the
Race came out [with the announcement about who the
contestants were in this summer’s season], we
couldn’t even tell anyone that we’d even done
this. No one even knew we went on this Amazing

So Reichen, when you did the cover of Instinct
magazine, Instinct didn’t even know you
were on the show.

Reichen: They had no idea.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the race. You
guys seemed a little apprehensive about disclosing
that you were a gay couple. Did you think that
would be detrimental to competing?

Reichen: Well, I think on The Amazing Race you
don’t want to tell anyone about your personal
life, because part of your strategy is to keep your
personal life a secret. You know, Jeff [of the
third-place “best friends” team David and
Jeff] hid that he was an amazing triathlete. You
don’t want to let people know what your strengths
and weaknesses are, because you don’t want them to
have any kind of strategy against you. So it
wasn’t that we were, like, ashamed of it. It
was just not time for us to release it to the other

Do you think they figured it out anyway?

Reichen: Some said they did, and some said they had
no idea.

What made you decide to come out to the other teams on
your anniversary?

Reichen: Well, basically by that time we had been
traveling with those teams for so long that we felt
really close to them, and we felt that it
wouldn’t be a detriment anymore at that time. And we
had found out so much about them too and about their
lives. It just made us feel more comfortable for them
to know what they were dealing with and who we were as

One of the remaining teams at that point was Millie and
Chuck, who did not seem very comfortable with all
of that.

Chip: Well, virgins from the Bible Belt who in their
interviews said, “We read the Bible
religiously”—yeah, they had a little bit
of discomfort with it. But afterward—Reichen,
didn’t they come to you?

Reichen: Yeah, coming from Nashville,
Tenn.—where it’s not as open as what we
come from in Los Angeles—I think it was tough for
them to hear that, considering their very strong
religious beliefs. But you know, afterward when we
were done, off-camera they came up to us, and they
said, “We just think you’re so courageous for
coming out, and we just want you to know that we would
never judge you.” So, I mean, there you go. It
just shows that they have great character too. I mean,
everybody on the race was so great.

What other teams off-camera were very supportive?

Reichen: Definitely David and Jeff, [second-place
finishers] Kelly and Jon.

Chip: Monica and Sheree [the NFL wives].

Reichen: All of those teams majorly supported us.

Chip: And Tian and Jaree [the models].

Reichen: Oh, yeah. Tian and Jaree were amazing too,

Tell me a little bit more about your relationship with
Jon and Kelly, because they were at one point
digging at you guys for being “fags” just
to egg each other on. What was that about?

Reichen: When we went on that 26-hour train ride in
India after the Supremes [Monica and Sheree] were
eliminated, you know, we really made a close, close
friendship with Jon and Kelly, and that was definitely
not portrayed in the editing and in what the viewing public
saw. You saw a fraction of the funny jokes going back and
forth, and one of the regrets I think I have from the
editing was that it didn’t show this amazing,
really funny friendship that we had developed with Kelly
and Jon. I mean, the gay jokes were flying every five
seconds—if you could have really seen how it
was, I think it would have been so fun and humorous
for the viewing public. But they [the producers] were trying
to make out like we had a rivalry, which really
wasn’t the case. It was so fun shooting these
jokes back and forth. We were constantly telling Jon
how pretty he was and how gay he was and reminding him how
gay he was and, you know, he would come back with the
gay jokes. We had so much fun. It really wasn’t
a rivalry at all. It was great.

Chip: It was a flirtation.

Reichen: It really was a flirtation.

Chip: Like brothers kidding each other.

So by the time you were climbing face-first down the side
of that tall building in Australia, and Jon was
making cracks about not being beaten by the
“fags,” this was part of an ongoing thing
between you guys.

Chip: Absolutely.

Reichen: Yeah, I don’t know if you remember
when we were in the airport and Jon looked at me and
said, “Oh, Reichen, you have that pheromone
smell that keeps me attracted to you”—remember
that? By that time, even, it was so funny. Chip would
get miffed because I would get distracted because I
thought Jon was so funny, and it was flirtatious. I
mean, I would laugh so hard when Jon would do that with me.
I would, like, try to stifle my laughter to hold my
and Chip’s team together. It was so funny and
comical at that point. By the time I was rappelling down
the building, calling him an asshole, it was

Is there anything else about the way that you guys were
portrayed that you found misleading? Because
especially at the beginning of the race, you guys
came across as—let’s say, aggressive,
starting with your blocking the doorway to that
bus station in, I think it was, Switzerland—

Reichen: I think the aggressive stuff was pretty
accurate. And I think Chip got a little bit of a bad
rap in Korea, when they made him out to hate this
Korean guy because he didn’t speak English. I mean,
it was taken totally out of context. But other than
that, I think we got really accurate editing.

And as I understand it, you guys don’t see these
shows until just before they air.
Chip: No, we see it when you do.

Don’t you get a tape a day or two before?

Reichen: We got the final episode on tape a day or
two before, but just the final episode. Had we gone to
CBS and said, “Hey, can we have a
pre-copy?” they would have probably given it to us,
but it was kind of more fun for us to wait each week
and watch [the live broadcast].

Reichen, when I ran into you just before the race started
broadcasting, you talked about you and Chip going to
private viewing parties with people in their homes
around Los Angeles. Did you get to do any of that?

Reichen: I did a couple times, but a lot of those
nights were so busy because we were throwing our own
parties with the actual CBS and Race people, so
I didn’t get a chance to do that a lot. That is
kind of a regret that I have, that I didn’t have the
time to do that, because it really would have been

Oh, I’m sure you’ll be invited to lots of
parties now. Back to the show: You guys were
portrayed throughout the show as
“married,” from beginning to end. On
the one hand, that’s great and we love that sense
of equality. On the other hand, it’s not
really true because you can’t get married
in the United States. Do you think it’s at all
misleading for people to be presented with you two
as “married”?

Reichen: No, I don’t think it’s
misleading at all. When we were getting cast on the
show, we made no secret to CBS that we wanted to be
portrayed as married, and they said, “Well, are you
legally married?” And we said, “No, we
got married in California, but it’s not legally
recognized by our state, but we consider ourselves married,
[as do] our family, friends—and 200 of them
were there [at the ceremony]—and under God, and
CBS really took that to heart. They were skeptical and said,
“Well, I don’t know. We’d love to help
you, but we’ll bring it up to the
executives,” and when the executives approved it at
CBS, I mean, everybody was thrilled when the decision
came out—even the people that made the
decision. It was such a fun and wonderful thing that
happened, and we were just thrilled that they were
going to put “married” under our names.
That’s how we considered ourselves.

You know, the big
quote that came out was when the Christian Right was
picketing and getting pissed off and writing articles and
the Family Research Council called it “an
aberration” that we were on the show and that
CBS was a liar for saying that we were married. [The CBS
executives] walked out [to meet the protesters]. And
[CBS rep] Beth Feldman said, “They’re
married, they’re gay, get over it. What’s the
problem?” and turned back around and went in. I
mean, that’s how they’ve handled it, and
we just think it’s great.

revolutionary. You know, it’s kind of saying,
“Yeah, you know what? If the state isn’t
going to recognize the rights that people want to
have, then the people will go ahead and recognize that for
the state.

I agree with all
of that, but in the hinterlands, there are gay
people—and I talk to them, I get e-mails from
them—who say, “So where can I get
married?” Because they think gay couples can get
legally married in Vermont or Hawaii. And it’s
sad that I have to write back to them and say,
“No, you can’t get married anywhere in the
United States.”

Reichen: You shouldn’t write that. You should
write back and say, “You can get married
anywhere you want. Just set up a ceremony and do it
under God and wear your rings and tell everyone that
you’re married.”

Chip: What I think people are mixing up here is what
the state recognizes for insurance reasons and all the
rest of that, so you can qualify for certain things,
and what does your spirituality recognize. And I think
it’s needed that people try to separate those two
issues. And the word “married,” I guess,
in the Oxford dictionary is a term used in a church
[ceremony] for a man and woman, and what’s happening
today, which has always happened through any
revolution of culture, is that people redefine words.
And we’re basically saying—

Reichen: It’s time to redefine.

Chip: It’s time to redefine it. They’re
doing it in Canada; they already recognize it in
Amsterdam. The United States is way behind on many
issues, and I don’t really care how you would like to
phrase it: We like to use the word

Reichen: So I understand why you write that to
people, that they can’t get married, because
it’s true: They can’t legally get married. But
I guess the message we’re sending and what CBS is
sending is, “If you feel like you’re
married, then you’re married. “You know what I

Yeah, that’s cool. And speaking of being married:
If you were celebrating your one-year anniversary
on the show—I don’t know how long
you had been together before you got married—but
a year’s not really that long.
You’re still learning about each other. How did
the race affect your relationship?

Reichen: Well, we had been together for three
and a half years before the actual ceremony of February 2
[2002]. But the race definitely affected our
relationship. It definitely strengthened it on the
race—we got to know so much about each other, and
winning together was just an amazing experience. Um,
but—you know, after the race, there was a lot
of stress between us. And we’ve definitely had
some relationship problems. And we continue to try to work
those problems out.

So do you consider yourselves a couple now?

Reichen: It’s just been an ongoing thing for
us. And so we can’t really give you any
concrete answer of, you know, “Are you
separated? Are you through?” The answer is no.
“Are you together?” The answer is,
“No, not all the time.” We’re still
working things through. It’s been a tough

I’m sure it’s been tough for you. During
the entire run of the show, I know from being here
in Los Angeles, that the status of your relationship
was like the hottest topic in West Hollywood. Was that
hard for you guys?

Reichen: Yeah, it’s so hard, because
everyone’s talking about it, and you know, we
just interviewed with—I’ll leave the paper
nameless—but the interviewer said, “You know,
in your Instinct article you said you were
single” and da-da-da, and I had to stop the guy and
say, “I never said in the Instinct article that I was
single, and that’s how rumors get
started.” And you know, there’ve been so many
rumors flying around—its so hard to divulge
this, I have to be honest—yeah, we’ve
had a lot of problems. I hate telling the public that after
fighting for our title of “married” and
everything else. But we’re in a relationship
like anyone else, you know? We love each other very much,
and we want each other to be happy, and whatever’s
gonna make that happen is what Chip and I are going to
do. It’s no different from how we’ve
always been with each other. We just want each other to be

Chip: Relationships evolve and, as Reichen just said,
to reiterate, um, people work on things and they want
to—and we love each other. And that’s
the critical thing. And we go from there.

I have say, I knew you guys were trying to work it out in
some way when my partner, Christopher, ran into
you at the grocery store in West Hollywood.
Because you don’t go grocery shopping with your
[Both laugh]

So, do you have any advice for gay couples who want to
get on the next Amazing Race, if there is
one, or any other competitive reality TV show?

Reichen: Yeah: Walk in there, and all you want to
keep saying is, “We’re gonna
win,” because that’s what they want to see.
They want to see people who, over everything else,
just want to win because they know that’s gonna
make for good TV. And remember, it’s all about
ratings, so they just want people with piss and
vinegar in their eyes.

[Laughs] And as a flip side to that, what advice
do you give gay couples who are going to travel
together for extended periods?

Reichen: Don’t let Chip drive.


I have to ask you about Chip’s driving.
You’re a pilot, Reichen—what’s
Chip doing driving? Why didn’t you take over?

Reichen: I know!

Chip: He’s a navigator as well. And I screwed
up at the very beginning, at the very first
airport—it set the tone. I had the map turned
upside down. So instead of turning left, we turned right,
and we got to the airport 10 minutes later, and so we
were on the last flight more or less.

Reichen: And I never forgave him.

Chip: And that set the tone for the rest of the race.
You know, by probably about halfway through the race,
we’d learned lessons and forgave each other and
made things a little more humorous, but that’s why I
drove all the time. And if you watch, every other team
had the same system: One person drove, one person
navigated. We were no different.

So you decided it was more important to have Reichen navigating.

Chip: Absolutely. And we got places a lot of times
before other people. I mean, everyone made mistakes.
This show is about a comedy of errors, and it’s
so funny that people like to pinpoint, “Oh, you did
this bad, and you did this bad, and you did this
bad”—every team did things badly.

Were you horrified when the car went spinning off the
road [in Hawaii, in the final episode]?

Reichen: Oh, my God! That was the most scary moment
of the whole race for me, because, one, I was just
really sick of sitting in the backseat. I always feel
out of control at any time in my normal life if I have
to sit in the backseat of someone’s car. And because
I’m a pilot, I just love to drive, you know? I
like to be in control of the vehicle, and it was just
so hard for me to sit back there, and then when we started
spinning, I thought, Oh, my God! I was horrified.

Did you feel then or at any other time that you might be
out of the race?

Reichen: At that point, yeah. That was the only time
I think I felt that way.

Chip: That was the only time I felt we might have
been out of the race. When we were pedaling in India,
when we did the [transporting of the] chickens [by
bicycle], I knew Reichen had stronger legs than an
elephant and faster legs, but that was very close.

Reichen: That was scary.

So, Chip, how frustrated were you that you kept coming in
not quite first place at the pit stops?

Chip: That was very frustrating. What really got me
angry was [thinking,] What are we doing wrong? What
are the little things we’re not going right?
Because if you look at the statistics, I think we finished
second five or six times.

And the only time you finished first was when you did the
Fast Forward [winning a challenge to skip to the
end of a race segment], right?

Chip: It was very frustrating. We lost out on little
things just by— yeah, it was frustrating. It
would have been fun to win more trips or finish first
and have that confidence, but again, our strategy the
whole time was just to keep not getting eliminated [to make
sure] we got to the final three.

Well, you finished first when it counted.

Reichen: We sure did!

Chip: The final leg clicked. And as Reichen said the
day before, he said, “Look, you know we can win
this thing.” And all the rest of the
[finalists] are good teams, and David and Jeff we thought
were going to be right there with us, and we just
focused and said, “Let’s do this and

And at what point did you know that you really were going
to win?

Reichen: I remember the moment: We were in Honolulu,
and I looked at Chip and I said, “You know
what? We’re going to actually win this race. I
actually feel that we’re going to win this
race.” I never stopped thinking that, and
neither did Chip, and we kept that in our heads all
the way to the finish line, and it really helped us focus.
We didn’t make any mistakes; we just
consistently did well and got there first.

You did. Now I’m going over my 15 minutes, but I
wanted to ask you, Reichen, I understand
you’re doing a documentary about the
military’s “don’t ask,
don’t tell” policy—

Reichen: Did you hear about that through SLDN [the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network]?

SLDN put out a press release this morning.

Reichen: Yeah, you know, I was really happy to agree
to do their documentary, to be a spokesperson for
getting rid of “don’t ask, don’t
tell” and lifting the ban on gay people in the
military. So I will definitely be doing that. And I
don’t know if you know, I got the opportunity
to do the season premiere of Frasier.

Cool! No, I didn’t know that. When will that air?

Reichen: That will air September 23. I have one

Chip: Ye-a-a!

Reichen: That I wouldn’t change for the world.
And it was such an amazing week, just working with the
whole cast. We rehearsed all week, and the cast was
just coming off hiatus, so they weren’t memorizing
their lines as fast, so I got to rehearse with them a
lot more. And some of the cast were big fans of
Amazing Race, and I came on set, and they
were, like, “Oh, my God! I’m such a big fan of
you and Chip!” And I was like,
“You’re not allowed to be a fan of me,
you’re on Frasier! We’re supposed to be
fans of yours.”

Well, Frasier is the gayest show on
television—at least until It’s
All Relative
comes on this fall.

Reichen: It was such a wonderful time. I play the
part, in the credits it’s called “the
impossibly handsome man.” I have one line in the
opening scene of the season premiere. So I’m so
excited about that. I have an acting coach now,
I’m signing with an agent this week, and I’m
trying to get on a soap opera. So that’s the

Do you have other plans to use your TV fame to advance
gay rights?

Reichen: You know what, right know I’m going
to really focus on “don’t ask,
don’t tell” solely and on Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network. It’s just gonna be my primary
focus right now.

It’s a great cause and a great organization. Chip,
what are you up to?

Chip: Actually, I was pretty political about five
years ago. When I was in New York, [I was involved
with] Empire State Pride [Agenda] and a lot of other
things, and I’m going to actually try to use this to
go on some speaking tours around the country to try to help
youth and kids feel as though they can come out and do
it with pride. And then on the business front,
I’ve been consulting for the past year and a half,
and while it’s been fun helping individual small
companies, I’ve been focusing on finding some
full-time work back in the media community that I
love. I helped run a company for two years that we closed
down a couple years ago, and I’m in the job
market to go back [into the media realm].

Excellent. What are you going to do with the $1 million?

Chip: I’m going to have some fun and get a
Ducati motorcycle.

Reichen: I have a Ducati, and Chip wants to ride with

Chip: So that’ll be fun. And you know, on the
mundane side, we’re going to look to invest in
some property, because it’s a good investment,
and pay down a little bit of my business school debt that I
have. And Reichen has a commercial [pilot’s]
license, and he put himself through school for that,
and [we need to] finish up paying for that.

Great! I hope we’ll be touch again when the
immediate madness is over, and we’ll talk
about what we can do together in the future.

Chip: Please stay in touch. This has been an
incredible experience and a ride for us, and any
advice you have for Reichen and myself—because
The Advocate has always been a wonderful publication for
the gay community, and anything we can do to help, please
let us know.

Reichen: We love you guys!

We love you back. Thanks a lot. Congratulations again.

Chip: Goodbye.

Reichen: Bye!

Tags: World, World