I’d written yesterday about the gay couple that won the Amazing Race TV show/competition, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, and how great it was to see a gay couple kiss on primetime just like any other straight couple would.
Well, Josh and Brent left a nice note in our comments, so I emailed them and asked for an interview. They’re incredibly busy this week, but were able to squeeze in some email answers.
So here you go – my questions in bold, their answers following:
1. Pretend I’m an idiot. Explain this show to me, the Amazing Race – in a paragraph or two max. I’ve honestly only watched one episode before. How does it work?
The Amazing Race begins in the U.S. with 11 teams of two people, who have some relationship to each other (siblings, couples, colleagues, friends). The teams race around the world, finding clues and completing challenges. The Race is divided into 12 legs, each taking place in a different country or region across the globe. At the end of each leg, the last team who arrives is generally eliminated, with three couples remaining for the final leg, which ends back in the U.S. with a prize of $1M.
2. I know a lot of gay people watched the video of you guys winning and felt especially happy because you’re a “gay” couple winning the show. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel like you accomplished anything for gay people, gay civil rights, equality by winning the show? By simply being on the show? Was that even in the back of your minds at all when you decided to go on the show, or during the competition – that you were a ‘gay’ couple rather than just another couple?
We never really think of ourselves as a “gay couple.” We’re just a couple. I think that’s what makes our own reality show, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” so popular across a wide swath of America…not just LGBT folks. We’re just a couple of middle-aged city slickers with a dream of running a successful farm and rebuilding a great little community. Lots of people have that dream. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are the only gay couple that many of our viewers have ever “met.”
3. Some of our readers noted how happy the other contestants were when you won – especially the guy behind you, in the yellow tank top, the blond woman in the green tshirt, and the two Sri Lankan women (maybe simply because they were the ones we could see). Here’s what one reader, Fritzrth, wrote:
“What really got to me was the unequivocal support that the rest of the racers were showing these two. I don’t know if it was simply show for the cameras, but their thrill at seeing these two guys win seemed very honest and real to me.”
How did the other contestants treat you guys, was it any differently because you were gay, were they any more thrilled about you winning because you’re gay – was the gay thing just a non-issue all around?
Some people thought that the Sri Lankan twins were somehow anti-gay because they kept referring to us as “the gays.” Sometimes they would “trash talk” us like any athlete would to an opposing team. But these girls don’t have a single homophobic bone in their bodies. I think they were perhaps a bit blindsided and befuddled by the online reaction to their language. Their generation, especially in NYC where they live, connect absolutely no ill-intent to the word “gay.” We were the gay couple on the show, therefore, they called us “the gays.” We called them the “twins.” Absolutely no harm, no foul.
The rest of the teams I think were genuinely happy for our win. We did our best, never gave up, and helped others when they really needed it. For us, that’s a very comfortable winning strategy.
4. In particular, one of my readers wrote about “the monster truck guy” – I googled that phrase and can’t find anything about it. Read what Lisa Dahlen wrote, below, and tell us in particular about the Monster Truck Guy it if you could:
“I love the Amazing Race and watched this whole season after missing the past two. I was a fan of the Beekman Boys all along, especially since they had trouble all through the race and many of the other teams liked to diss them as weak. I love the underdogs and felt they were very passionate about the race (and bickered like any old married couple, which was cute). They supported one another and played the game very well. I am so glad they won! The Monster Truck guy said that “he completely changed his mind” about gay people — something which his wife was very happy about.”
Rob and Kelley, or “the Monster Truck Couple,” were a team that hailed from the small town of Boston, Georgia. While they are very accomplished on the Monster Truck circuit, Rob didn’t have much exposure to any LGBT couples. He told us after the Race that we’d helped change his outlook on gay couples when, on the ride to the starting line when we were all very nervous, he noticed that I put my arm around Brent just as he’d put his arm around Kelley. It just struck him, at that moment, that we were exactly the same.
But I want to be very clear to say that we learned a great deal about life as a “Monster Trucker” couple too. Being curious and open-minded is not a one way street… and both ends of that road have great rewards.
5. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
We never discuss politics with the exception of LGBT equality, although it’s pretty easy based on that criteria to deduce where we usually land. Our friends, fans, and customers run the political gamut, and as long as they agree on LGBT equality, we’re content. We believe there is far too much emphasis on “or” in our country, and that most progress will come from “and.” (Though we do recognize and value passionate, divisive activism as well. Again…”and.”)
6. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about “the kiss.” Here’s BeccaM commenting on our blog – I’m curious about your response:
Yes, it really, really does matter.
On broadcast TV, we’ve had decades of increasingly explicit heterosexist PDA (public displays of affection) and bedroom antics that clearly take place either shortly before or shortly after love-making. Yet often it’s still treated as controversial and somehow over-the-line if a gay couple shares a passionate kiss on a national prime-time television show.
Karmanot is right: This is how we change the narrative about what it means to be gay or lesbian. By being ourselves and not being afraid to show it.”
We didn’t really think about “the kiss.” What else would you do after you won a freakin’ million dollars?! It wasn’t until after the episode aired that we realized that it was kinda important. On “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” we kissed many times. In fact, we were shown in bed together. But our show wasn’t on a channel that captured 12 million viewers with a mostly conservative bent.
Plus, when the last same-sex couple won The Amazing Race nine years ago (Chip and Reichen,) CBS edited out their kiss, and there was a pretty big uproar. Even just a few years ago, if I’m remembering correctly, Adam Lambert kissed a guy during an awards show and subsequently was dis-invited from several talk show appearances. Brent and I kissed on the most family friendly show on the most family friendly network on a top 10, 9 time Emmy winning show….and almost no one mentioned it. That’s awesome progress in such a short time!
7. You mentioned “The Fabulous Beekman Boys.” You have your own reality show?
“The Fabulous Beekman Boys” follows our life as two NYC “city slickers” who are trying to start a new life as goat farmers in Sharon Springs, NY. It was the #1 original series on Discovery Network’s “Planet Green” channel for two seasons until the network re-branded. “Cooking Channel” purchased the rights to the show in 2012, and is currently re-airing the second season on Thursday nights at 10pm. We are currently discussing a third season, which may include our wedding. It was the first reality show on a mainstream network starring a real-life gay couple.
8. Tell me the truth, Gmail and Facebook, what was your role in crashing them, because you know, you won and they both crashed.
We did crash Facebook. But we had nothing to do with Gmail. Promise.