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.
Little realizing that Rob and Amber would take care of that role for this season.I know. Rob and Amber show up, and they turn into the villains. But a lot of people really love them, which I just cannot understand. I’ll read online—even though I shouldn’t—the crap, you know, that people are saying and how much they hate Mom and I because we hate Rob and Amber. And I’m like, “You people need to figure this out. These are like media whores, like, fake—” Oh, I don’t know, they’re just embarrassing. I don’t know why people can root for them.This is the third reality show that my partner and I have had to suffer through watching Rob.Exactly! Me too. When I saw them walk into that room [before the race started], I was like, “I’m just going to be nasty to them from the start,” and of course [the producers] pieced together every single little nasty thing you say about Rob and Amber. But you just knew that that’s how he’s going to play the game. You knew he’s just going to come in talking shit about everybody.Did the teams break down into the teams that liked Rob and Amber and the teams that didn’t like Rob and Amber?Well, all the teams out in front [early in the race] acted like they didn’t like Rob and Amber That was the basic consensus, and everybody, every team agreed that they were going to yield them if they could get to the yield first, so— [Laughs] [A “yield” is the opportunity for just one team to delay one other team that’s following them for a set period of time. Yields appear a few times during the race. —Ed.] We all had that agreement, but then when I watched the show you could see who’s sort of buddy-buddying up with them. Like Ray. We used to call Ray “Velcro” because he was so stuck to Rob’s ass. That was actually something Meredith [the male half of the oldest couple in the competition] and I called him: “There goes Velcro, stuck to Rob’s ass.”It’s interesting you should bring up Ray, because on last night’s episode, when the three last-place teams were competing not to be eliminated, Ray made some comment about “I’m not losing to these two teams,” which really sounded like “I don’t want to lose to the old people and the fag.”Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what it sounded like. He never would have said that word [“fag”], I’m sure, but I’m sure that was going through his mind. Here’s the thing: I think Ray is, like, a nice guy, and I think he means well, but in the game he is a snake, you know? He is out to play. That’s what Lynn and Alex call him, the snake, because they’re just like...he is out to be vicious and vindictive, and you could just tell that the whole time. But he’d come up and he’d be very social and friendly, but then you know that he’s making comments like that [behind your back]. I especially knew it, because last night before the show he calls and he’s talking about how, you know, great it is to talk again, and then this morning I had an e-mail that said, “I didn’t sleep at all last night. I feel so bad. The two teams that I respected the most in the entire race I insulted the worst last night, and I feel really bad.” So—Wow.That was nice of him, I thought. But it’s really easy to make amends once you say shit like that on national TV. [Laughs] I like the whole “Patrick is weak” comment [he made]. But in the end, I do like Ray and [his partner in the race] Deana, and it’s just a game and I can accept that. If Rob and Amber had been saying that, I wouldn’t be able to let it just roll off my back, though.You and Debbie and Bianca had an early alliance. What happened to that?Well, that alliance would have kept going, probably, if it hadn’t come down to our two teams [for elimination]. On that third episode, when we were driving through the Andes, that was when we were trying to find the [highway called] El Norte, or Cinco Norte, and we couldn’t find it. We were with Debbie and Bianca searching, and finally we were just like, “OK, neither of us can find this. Let’s just branch off.” And so that was the end of it. [Debbie and Bianca wound up driving two hours out of their way and being eliminated. —Ed.]Tell me about this: You and your mom seemed to get lost a couple of times.[Laughs] Yeah, we did.Is this something you’ve experienced before? Is navigation not your strong suit?I guess I would say that maybe navigation isn’t our strong suit. I don’t know. I think we did OK. We made it through the entire Andes mountains without a map, so that was pretty good—just stopping on the side of the road and asking people. Not bad. But we could have done better with the navigation, probably. That was why I sat in the backseat, because Mom hates my driving and she can’t read a map, so my job was to sit in the back and try to navigate. Uh-oh! [Laughs] Maybe I didn’t do that well.A couple of the challenges you had to do, you got really upset when you thought your mom was nagging you. Do you think that affected your performance?No, I don’t think so. Mom and I, when we got done with the whole race, we said to each other, “I’m really proud of us. We are such a good representation of a mom and gay son because we didn’t have a fight the entire time,” but then I’m watching it and I’m like, Well, maybe we did fight, but that’s more just like attitude we were throwing at each other, because it’s so stressful. But I don’t think it hurt my performance--I think that I’m one of those people that just needs to clear my head and concentrate, and sometimes what I perceived as nagging she really just meant as support, and I wasn’t seeing that in that moment. But she understood where I was coming from, and I understood her too.Well, from the point of view of watching the show on the couch, it seemed the tension was kind of growing between the two of you as the race went on. But it could have been just exhaustion.I think it was exhaustion. It’s similar to something like Survivor, because you don’t have any food except for what you eat on airplanes, and you don’t have any sleep except for what you get on airplanes. It’s just running and carrying and talking and—ugh! Yeah. So I think that it did eventually wear us down. And diarrhea all the time. And that [final] day I was really just still sick to my stomach from the food [the four pounds of grilled meat]. Yeah, it sort of sucks.Finally, watching the videos posted on CBS.com, we could figure out what you had tried to do as a strategy for the meat challenge and how that didn’t really work out. You were hoping to be able to not eat the meat, take the four-hour penalty, and still be ahead of the last-place team, Debbie and Bianca. So you stopped eating. But even though they got there very late, it was clear the girls were going to complete the challenge. So you had to hurry and eat all that meat after all.No, that didn’t really work out. Yeah, that was sort of complicated. I wondered if [the show’s producers] were going to be able to translate that.Well, they didn’t, because it didn’t come across on the episode. On the episode it looked like you just sort of slept on it until you realized that Debbie and Bianca might have finished first, and then you buckled down.I know, because they used a bunch of shots when I was “acting” [upset at having to eat all the meat]. I wasn’t really as terrified. I even started to cry one time while we were sitting there. I was like, I’m going to turn on the tears now because I’ve got to really freak out Debbie and make her think that it’s that awful and that I’ve been sitting here forever. And so I was like, “I can’t do it, Mom! I can’t do it!” And they were like cutting to that and showing that like that really happened. But whatever—it did happen.What was your favorite memory of the race?Well, one my favorite things would be Meredith and [his wife] Gretchen. I just love them so much. They have so be some of my favorite people from the [show]: Meredith and Gretchen and Lynn and Alex. I’m just so excited that we got to meet through this whole experience. There was one day on the second leg when we had this huge layover for like 13 hours, or something, in Peru, and so Mom and I and Meredith and Gretchen, we all teamed up and got a hotel and got our reservations and had ice cream and sightsaw, you know. It was just really nice—we had a great day together and really bonded. But of course all of that was cut out because it’s not fast-paced. [Laughs] That was just a nice little break from the race, and it was great to get to know them.
So were there other fun things that happened that we didn’t see? I’m just wondering if when you’re watching the episodes on the air, you sometimes go, “Wait! They skipped—”Well, now and then they’ll skip a route marker, but it will just tell you where to go next. They’ll skip those sometimes.Other than sharing a sleeping bag with your mom, was there anything that you were glad they didn’t show?I guess on this last episode I was really glad that they didn’t show everything that happened to Mom and me after the boat died. [On the air] it just sort of looked like our boat died and then we got out and ran up [the bank of the river] and got into a cab a left. And there was really hours more stuff that happened. We knew we were last because we were sitting in our boat and it was dead and the other teams all passed us. They were on the ground headed for the pit stop and we still hadn’t gotten a replacement boat yet. Once we got up onto land it took another two, 2 1/2 hours because we were trying to get a cab and nobody would drive us out [to the pit stop, outside of town] that late. We eventually just ended up sitting in a train station, and Mom’s crying, and I was telling her, “Mom, this is it, it’s over,” and she’s saying, “We’re just going to stay at a hostel tonight and we’ll make it to the pit stop in the morning,” and I was like, “And arrive six hours after the other teams depart for the next leg of the race?” [Laughs] Yeah, that was pretty sad. I’m glad we didn’t see all that.Yeah, we sit home watching the show and we call that “fake editing” at the end, when they’re trying to convince the viewers that there’s a footrace between the two last teams—even though it looked like dusk in the shots of Meredith and Gretchen heading to the pit stop, and it looked like the middle of the night in shots of you and your Mom. We’re like, No, this is not a real footrace.Which is true. I think they got there at like 8:30 or 9 and we got there at about midnight. And yeah, it was [made to look like it was] all close, like, “Who’s going to come running up?”I know something that they didn’t show: how you got the bandage over your eye in, I think, the second episode.Oh, yeah, that was when we were on the second leg of the race. We were on the bus and Rob totally dragged me out of the bus and kicked my ass. [Pauses] No, I’m just kidding. No, we were on this bus and I got off and was getting PowerBars out from [our luggage] underneath the bus, and I swung the door [to the luggage compartment] open and it cracked me in the eyeball. So I was just bleeding. But then they found out I didn’t even need a stitch, so they just put a bandage on it. I didn’t even want it, so I took it off that night. But yeah, watching the show, it was pretty mysterious [how that bandage got there]. It was nothing bad. No harm.You told Phil at the end and in some of the videos on CBS’s Amazing Race Web site that you don’t think you’re as devious and mean as you thought you were.Yeah, I think that that’s true, probably. Seeing Rob and Amber on the show—I remember there was a moment in a train station [early on], and everyone was fighting with Rob and Amber and saying “It’s a good thing you can’t be voted off” and all that stuff—Yeah, I remember that. Rob had bribed one of the guys working at the train station not to tell anyone else which train got to the destination faster. But everyone found out anyway, and also found out that Rob had bribed the guy to withhold information. And everyone was pissed.I was standing off to the side during all of that, thinking, This is so ugly. I’m glad all of that stuff isn’t directed at me, and that’s not how I’m going to play the game, the way Rob’s doing it. And I know I came into it saying, “I’m going to screw all these people,” then I think you realize what kind of a person you are sometimes. And like, No, you know what? I’m not going to be that nasty. I’m still going to keep my morals. I’ve got to live with myself once this is over with. Rob is just so nasty, so I realized that that’s what it is to be devious and nasty in this game, and I don’t want to be that way. Plus, at the beginning I had totally made up so many stories for everybody, and [decided] who I was going to like and who I was going to dislike, and I was just completely shocked [that most of the assumptions were incorrect]. So I was like, Wow, Patrick, you really aren’t as nasty as you thought.So some of the people you thought you wouldn’t like, it turned out that you did?Yeah. I really didn’t know if I would like [West Hollywood gay couple] Lynn and Alex. I couldn’t tell, because I just thought that they would really rub me the wrong way, just from [seeing] all of the auditions and just seeing them at the walk-through [before the race commenced]. We nicknamed them Prancer and Dancer through everything, because they would just flit into the room and you would always be able to tell they were looking at you and whispering or something. But then we met them and we realized that they’re not nasty or mean at all, they’re just funny. They’re really funny and they have a good time together. I guess I’m just paranoid.How do you think people misperceived you?I think people misperceived me as being crazy. I think that I’m not crazy, but I think that people think that I really am like psycho-obsessed with Rob and Amber. They really didn’t have much to do with my game at all. Everybody says, “Patrick, if you just stopped wasting all of your time thinking about Rob and Amber—” and it’s like, seriously, I thought about them when I would see them and we would be commenting “Let’s beat them,” you know? But I guess it really makes it look like I’m crazy and obsessed with them. I would think that might be the only way, though, that I’ve been misperceived. I don’t think that there’s anything really bad.How did you feel about the portion of the exit interview that they showed on television? Because among exit interviews, yours was sort of the least affectionate between teammates. Usually there’s hugging and expressions of affection and—I know.Yours came across as You just have to understand that we don’t think the same way.Well, that’s not really the case. I feel like the editors were trying to send me some sort of message last night with that exit interview, how it was all just about how I need to lighten up and I’m too pessimistic and all that stuff. We said a bunch of stuff [during the exit interview] about how much we love each other and how this has been great and we’re best friends and all of that stuff, but none of that got on [television]—just the negative stuff. I was hoping maybe online they would have shown some of that stuff.They have posted some of the more positive stuff from your exit interview online.Well, that’s nice.They also have video of the two of you in the cab on the way to your final pit stop.Is that really nasty? Because I’m pretty negative, I think, in that.Your mom says, “It’s really not all about the money,” and you say, “No, it’s not really about the money; it’s how you play the game.” But I was not buying it.Oh, really? I said “It’s how you play the game”?Yeah. But I don’t think you were all that happy to be— No, I was not happy. I will tell you—OK, here’s the thing: I was sort of happy to be eliminated because I was sick of this Rob and Amber show. That’s the deal. [Laughs] I had watched how it was going, and I was sick of it. And everybody in that race knows exactly what that means. I was sick of it. It wasn’t the race I had auditioned for. I was just like, You know, if this is how it’s going to be the rest of the time, then I’ve had my fun. We had our good time. We did The Amazing Race, but this wasn’t like the other seasons we’ve watched. This was The Rob and Amber Amazing Race show. Yeah, I was really pissed.So you made good friends with Gretchen and Meredith and Lynn and Alex. Are there any contestants from past Amazing Races that you’ve met?Yeah. Brian and Greg [contestants from this season] have had these parties, so at some of those I got to meet Rebecca from last season, and she’s pretty cute. And Jonathan [from last season], surprisingly, has been there, and he’s a big supporter of Mom and me. But I was like, OK, do I want that support? [Laughs] [Jonathan was widely criticized as being abusive toward his wife and teammate during the show. —Ed.]My partner and I met Jonathan at a party too. We had a long conversation with him. He seemed nice in person.Yeah, he’s interesting, I guess, and he’s interesting to talk to.He seemed a bit one-note in the editing. I’m sure there’s a lot more to him than—Oh, yeah, I’m sure too. And then Hayden and Aaron [also from last season] we’ve met too. And, oh, my gosh, Aaron is so hot. I cannot even deal, you know? That guy is so hot. Oh, but wait—now he might read that, and that would be weird. But he’s so hot. I’m so glad that I got to meet him and [his fiancée] Hayden. [Laughs]The Amazing Race is such a small community, I’m sure someone will point this interview out to Aaron.Oh, they probably will, but that’s OK, I don’t care. I was so excited because they gave me their phone number, and I was like, Oh, I might just have to go call Aaron and Hayden and have them to dinner—because I just want to sit there and look at his beautiful face. [Laughs] I’m just kidding.So now you’ve got just a few more of your 15 minutes of fame. Is there anything you want to do with them?No, it was more about the game show to me, the whole game aspect of it, and just getting this reality thing out of my system because I’ve been so addicted to these shows. And I see that nobody really does anything once they get done with their 15 minutes of fame. I guess in a perfect world—and this sounds far-fetched—I would be a villain on Days of Our Lives, and I would throw my goblet into the fireplace and say “Damn you!” I want to have one of those parts—melodrama. But I’m not an actor, so—Well, you acted in high school.Yeah, I acted then. But really, now a dream job would be to write for Days of Our Lives. I don’t know what it is [about soap operas]. I just love all that stuff. But I’m not pursuing that or anything like that. I just think that’s funny. Other than that? At the end of this I’ve got a workshop of a show that we’re trying to put together in New York, and that’s about all.So you’ve just moved back into the life that you already have.Yeah, exactly. Just went back into it.With a few more friends than you had before.Yeah, a few more friends and some really crazy experiences. And the most well-documented vacation ever. Later on in life I’m sure I’ll look back on this and think like, Oh, that’s funny. And you know, it will never get old. You know, some people are going to be divorced from their husband or whatever, and they’re going to be like, “Oh, I don’t want to watch that old episode of The Amazing Race.” But I’m like, “Hey, Mom’s always going to be my mom, so it’s always going to be fun to watch when we’re old.”