Popular CBS reality series The Amazing Race will feature its first out lesbian contestant when it kicks off its tenth season in September. 27-year-old out Rhode Island speech pathologist Lauren Marcoccio is teaming up with her father Duke to compete in the race around the world.
CBS unveiled this season's contestants at the annual Television Critics Association press tour this weekend. In addition to Lauren and Duke, the teams include a gay male couple, Asian American brothers, a married Indian American couple, and two Muslim friends. Another contestant was the first female with an artificial leg to complete the Hawaii Iron Man Triathlon.
"I really believe we've never really had such a broad spectrum of people," host Phil Keoghan told the press on Saturday. "We've, I think, always had a diverse cast, but this particular cast is the whole gamut. It's really exciting to see them all at the starting line."
And Lauren is not only out, she's out in a big way: she and her girlfriend, Michelle Pothier, were pictured in a 2004 USA Today story about gay marriage (right).
According to the CBS press release, "when Lauren told her family that she was gay, her father didn't react well to the news and the two were estranged for several years. They are currently rebuilding their relationship and hope the Race will help them recapture the closeness they once shared."
The Rhode Island native graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2001, and recently completed a masters degree from Boston University. According to Lauren's myspace profile, the Italian American contestant is into adventure sports like sky diving, intense hiking and rock climbing, and enjoys crime dramas, The L Word, and Survivor.
This season's 28-day race starts in Seattle, and destinations include China, Mongolia, Vietnam and Kuwait, Mongolia, and Paris. The last team to finish each leg of the race is eliminated, and the first of the 10 teams to reach the finish line at the end of the race receives $1 million.
The Amazing Race will air Sunday nights at 8pm on CBS beginning this fall; read more about this season's contestants here.