Patrick's Amazing Race secrets

The openly gay half of the first mother-son team on CBS’s hit around-the-world reality show shares his dislike of fellow contestants Rob and Amber, his passion for musical theater, and his doubts about ever getting married.

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 28 2005 1:00 AM ET

It’s been a couple seasons since CBS’s Amazing Race served up any gay contestants, but they’re making up for lost time with the current and seventh run, which began in February with two gay-inclusive teams: Life partners Lynn and Alex from West Hollywood, Calif., and mother-son team Patrick and Susan, from Ohio. (In fact, Patrick, 26, has been on his own in New York and Los Angeles for several years.)Susan and Patrick started the game brilliantly, finishing near the lead in the first leg of the race—which took them to South America—but they fell behind when they couldn’t find their way to the main north-south highway in Chile. Then, having driven across the Andes to Argentina, they dropped farther back when one of the contest’s periodic challenges forced lean Patrick to consume four pounds of grilled meat—a task that wound up taking many hours.Other teams simply skipped the meat challenge and accepted a time penalty of four hours delay instead—a strategy launched by Survivor: All-Stars winners Amber and Rob, an engaged couple in their third reality-TV contest (their first as a formal two-person team). Rob has played the ruthless schemer on two stints on CBS’s Survivor; the network knows how effectively he polarizes both audiences and other contestants. People either admire his bold blue-collar Boston brashness or hate his pomposity, his bragging, and his endless conniving.Patrick fell immediately and passionately into the second category, and some viewers wondered whether the amount of time he spent talking about how much he disliked Rob and Amber might have been better spent attending to his and Susan’s position in the pack. It’s a concern Patrick says is overblown, even if by the time he and his mother were eliminated (at the end of the fourth round) he was sick of “the Rob and Amber show.”Advocate.com spoke with Patrick, who was in Los Angeles near his Hollywood home the afternoon after the airing of the episode in which he and his mother were done in by a tiny motorboat in Argentina. The motor simply quit in the middle of a challenge, an unlucky break that left them hours behind the other teams. Patrick talked about how he was portrayed on the show—as “pessimistic Patrick”—what he’s up to these days, and why he’s still single. It was his “third or fourth” interview of the day.So if you’ve already done three or four other interviews, are there any embarrassing questions that you’ve been asked that I should avoid? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s anything too embarrassing. Well, I guess there is… No, why am I going to freely give that away? Well, now you’ve brought it up—No, I’m just kidding. My mom was just talking [in an earlier interview] about how we had to sleep on the beach one time and share a sleeping bag. I didn’t want anybody to know about it, but that’s cool. [Laughs]How do you feel about being called “pessimistic Patrick”?[Laughs] It’s something my friends have called me for a while. Not that [exact phrase] actually, but just that I’m an eternal pessimist. They all know that. It was just so funny because last night during the show my friends were just turning to me and being like, “Oh, my God, you really did just go out there and just act like yourself. You didn’t put on something else for the camera, to not be pessimistic.” And I was like, “No, that’s the point! You just be yourself and try to get through it.” So, yeah, I guess my pessimism showed through.How do you feel about watching that every week?I actually thought it was sort of funny. I didn’t realize that I was so obsessive and eternally pessimistic. I guess I am, though. I liked the very last line of last night’s show--“Maybe I need to lighten up”--because that’s what people tell me.So have you been trying to lighten up?Um, I guess so. Since coming back from the race people tell me I’ve been a much nicer person—more lightened up. [Laughs] It might have been that kind of experience.I do want to talk about some particulars of the race, but since this is The Advocate, I wanted to start by asking some things about your life that our readers might want to know. Like, what brought you to Hollywood from Ohio?OK. When I was living in Ohio I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. That was cool and all, but I just was not an organized-education type of person. I wanted to write for musical theater, so I dropped out of college and worked for a year and saved up and moved to New York. I lived in Brooklyn for a year, but I wasn’t getting anything done because of the hectic pace of the city. So I was like, I’ve always said I wanted to live on the West Coast too, so I just drove across country and moved to the West Coast. Now I’ve been out here for two years, and I get a lot more done. So I like it.So you’re writing for musical theater. What else are you up to?For my day job I work at an accounting office. But I’m trying to break through: I write the book and lyrics for musical theater, and my writing partner, Sean Flowers, lives in New York and he composes. He gets things put together like workshops and things, and I don’t even have to be there, so that’s nice.Do you ever want to finish your college degree?No, I don’t. I think that for some people it’s really meant to be and for some people it’s not, and I can’t ever picture a time [when I’d want to go back]. I can’t imagine going back into a classroom and studying. I just like the real-life experience of everything.Speaking of real-life experience, tell me about coming out to your parents and sister. Who did you tell first?I guess I was 20, maybe? No, I had to be 21, because we went out for margaritas, so maybe I was a sophomore in college. So I went out for margaritas with my mom and we were sitting there just talking about random stuff, and after like two [drinks] I was like, Oh, you know what, now is a good time to get this off my chest. And I said that I had something to talk about, and she sort of nodded, like I think she knew what we were going to talk about. And I said, “Well, we don’t even have to really get into it, but just so that you know, there aren’t going to be any girlfriends.” And she was like, “I know that, Patrick. I’ve known that.” And I was like, OK. So then we went home and told my dad and then my sister like two days later. But everybody was just like, “Oh, we hoped that you didn’t think that you couldn’t have told us this. That’s our only regret. There’s nothing you can’t tell us.” It was all good, and there was never any stress whatsoever, which was nice because a lot of my friends got kicked out of their houses and stuff for being gay in the Midwest.Which reminds me—whose house is that pictured behind you and your mother in the opening credits of The Amazing Race?That’s actually Miami University. Everybody asks that, though: “Do you live in a castle?” No, I swear. That’s a church on the ground of the university. It’s actually the church where my cousin got married. It’s just really scenic. That’s not our house.So back in Ohio, were you out to anybody in high school at all?I think that’s interesting. I was completely asexual all through high school, because I just was focused on performing, and so I was in a lot of shows. I never dated girls. Never dated girls, never dated guys. [Theater] was pretty much it. All my gay friends, though, were always dating girls, and that was just really embarrassing, because I was like, Come on! One of you two open your eyes and realize it! So it wasn’t until I was like, probably, in my senior year of high school, I guess. And I did a show away from my hometown, so it was just sort of like meeting a bunch of strange people, so when I met them all for the first time I just started saying, “Yeah, I’m gay.” Then I just set up my own little identity there. And then eventually I was like, OK, now I need to work this back into my real life and tell everybody back there.Is being gay really a big part of your life, or is it just sort of incidental?Yes, see, that’s the thing: It’s just sort of incidental for me because I don’t even date anybody. I have never dated anybody for more than, like, three months in my entire life. [Laughs] I’ve never been in love, I don’t think I believe in love. So I just don’t even date. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been on a date.You write musical theater and you don’t believe in love?Exactly! I believe in kitschy musical-theater kind of love, but that’s like sugar and saccharine. That’s not— [Laughs] I don’t know. It’s a good idea, though, and it sells seats in theaters.No wonder your mother worries about you!I know, exactly. So in answer to that, I would definitely say that being gay is just sort of like incidental. It definitely does not really impact my life. I guess it impacts my friends. And I’m really aware of all the issues, and I care a lot about it, but personally, I’m not rushing off to get married or anything, you know?Well, did you mind being “the gay son” on the show, since every contestant has to have a sort of three-word identity?No, you know what, I didn’t mind it. I always like to see gay people represented well on television, and there had never been a mother-son [team on The Amazing Race], there had never been a mom and gay son, you know? There’d been a gay son [and father] before on the show, but you know— Lynn and Alex were there, so I was like, OK, I don’t think I’m going to be [portrayed as] this flaming [stereotype]. So I sort of felt like the gay part didn’t have as much to do with us, Mom and I, getting on the show. They had the gay thing covered.It was more about the dynamic between the two of you.Yeah, I think it was. I think it probably helped, though, that I’m gay, because I’m cattier, maybe. [Laughs]Well, were you happy with the way you were portrayed?Yeah, I was happy with it. I felt like it was accurate. It was all ammunition that I gave, so— [laughs]. That all happened! Sometimes there are little editing things that [are] spliced together, when you would say something here and then they would show you saying it [somewhere else]. But basically, it’s accurate.When your friends found out you were going to be on The Amazing Race, did any of them talk to you about how important it would be for gay visibility for you to be on the show? Did you go through any of that?Actually, you know, I didn’t tell anybody I was going on it. None of them even knew.Really?Yeah. All my friends are basically in New York, [from] when I moved there. I came out here not knowing anybody, so there’s only like four friends, three or four friends that I see on a daily basis that would think it was weird if I disappeared. So I just made up a story and said I was going to Ohio to do a show and that I wasn’t going to be able to be in touch with people over the holidays. I just sort of disappeared, and nobody thought it was weird. I came back and I only had 14 messages from people who were just like, “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a long time, where are you?” I was just like, “I’m just going to see what happens if I just shut off the phone and go on the race.” So, yeah, nobody actually really knew, and the people that did know weren’t gay.So did you think about it yourself?Myself? Well, it went through my mind that I didn’t want to be portrayed badly, but I didn’t think that I would be. More than like the gay thing, I was just afraid of being like a little villain, because I knew that that was the tendency that could happen with me.

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