Last Sunday on CBS’ globe-spanning, Emmy Award-winning reality show, The Amazing Race, father/daughter team Duke and Lauren Marcoccio were the last team to reach a rice paddy in Vietnam and were eliminated from the competition. Though The Amazing Race has featured openly gay contestants before (most famously, Lance Bass’ boyfriend, Reichen Lehmkuhl, who won The Amazing Race 4 with his former partner, Chip Arndt), Lauren was the show’s first openly lesbian contestant.
Lauren and her father underwent a difficult time in their relationship when she came out to him, and together they entered The Amazing Race with the shared hope that it would, according to the show’s official website, “help them to rebuild their relationship and recapture the closeness they once shared.” AfterEllen.com spoke with the pair shortly after their elimination from the show.
AfterEllen: As you may have heard, another reality show, Survivor, caused somewhat of a controversy this season with its decision to racially separate its teams. This season’s Amazing Race is very diverse — its teams greatly differ from each other in terms of ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Did you, as a team, feel especially separated or divided on The Amazing Race in a way similar to Survivor?
Duke Marcoccio: No. I had no idea they were even doing something like this in Amazing Race. It was a very diverse group of people. It made it more interesting. But we didn’t have any problems with the differences in the teams.
AE: Did you make any special new friends on the show from the other team members?
Lauren Marcoccio: Yes. I feel like we fostered strong relationships with each person on Amazing Race, each in varying ways. Specifically, we became very close with Peter and Sarah, Tom and Terry [the gay couple], Jamie and Kellie, Erwin and Godwin, and David and Mary. We all just got very close. James and Tyler, too!
AE: Now that you are off the show, are you rooting for any team in particular?
Duke: I’m leaning towards Peter and Sarah. We got very close to them. I’ll be rooting them on.
AE: In running into bad luck — having to weave that dreadful basket, which cost you valuable time and the race — did you squabble with each other over losing? Or did the experience still remain a positive one for you both?
Lauren: It has been such a positive experience for both of us! I feel like we really came together when it was important. We remained focused and determined. We communicated very clearly to each other. And we listened to each other even when it became very difficult. I think those components of teamwork really paid off for us.
Duke: We worked together as a team, not so much as a father and daughter. You could see from some of the other team members on the show how they would fight and got mad, but that was how they were. We showed the other teams just how strong we were.
AE: Do you have any plans together for any more future projects?
Duke: There’s nothing right now, but if anything comes up, we are up for it.
Lauren: I know I’ll be remaining close to my dad as life goes on.
AE: Duke, when you were interviewed on Amazing Race about your coming to terms with your daughter coming out to you as a lesbian, you got very emotional. You are clearly very fond of her. What made you react so negatively when she first came out? Were you concerned about what friends and family might think?
Duke: I didn’t really care about the people around me or about what they thought. It was more of a personal hurt.
AE: Have your feelings toward Lauren evolved since being on Amazing Race?
Duke: Oh, absolutely! It definitely brought her and I much closer together. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m grateful we had the chance to do it. We were fortunate to share this experience together.
AE: Had you ever know any lesbians other than your daughter? Have you met any of Lauren’s lesbian friends? Do you all get along OK?
Duke: Yes. I never had any problems with it until it reached home. But I’m now acquainted with my daughter’s friends and have no issues with them.