Beyond ‘The Amazing Race’

Tim Magaw

Gay reality TV star reaches out to youth

Andrew Hyde of “The Amazing Race” discusses what reality shows look for in a contestant. STEVEN MANTILLA| DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

When openly gay cast member Andrew Hyde returned from his experience on “The Amazing Race 3,” he viewed himself as a celebrity.

Then he started receiving e-mails from gay and lesbian teens all around the country.

“Those e-mails affected me so much,” Hyde told a group of about 20 students in Bowman Hall last night as part of PRIDE!Kent’s Coming Out Week activities. “I was embarrassed. I thought I was so cool I was on this TV show.”

Hyde said the e-mails were a reality check. He was hearing about gay teens getting kicked out of their house or getting beat up at school for their sexuality. Because he was on “The Amazing Race” with his father, a Southern Baptist, many people were asking him how to get along with their own parents.

Hyde said he could go back to Los Angeles and try to become an actor, or he could take his celebrity status in “another direction.”

“I’m no psychologist. I’m no doctor. I’m no LGBT specialist,” he said. “All (my dad and I) can do is share our experiences.”

Upon his return from the show, he decided to start Andrew’s Club, a support group for the young LGBT community, in his home state of Kentucky. He ran the group for about a year and then moved to Dayton and started the Mu Crew, a support group for gay and bisexual males between the ages of 18 and 29. Hyde also works for AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

Freshman exploratory major Kat Rybski said she enjoyed Hyde’s program.

“He was a lot of fun — he was cool,” she said. “He has a good outlook on what it means to be on a reality show. He’s actually proactive, like with HIV prevention. That’s admirable.”

Hyde said before “The Amazing Race 3” aired, newspapers and entertainment magazines were writing about the possible drama between the father and son.

But once the showed aired, these predictions were wrong.

“We had our moments — every team does — but we ended up getting along really well,” Hyde said.

PRIDE!Kent Vice President Shawn Szymecki said this is why PRIDE!Kent brought Hyde.

“We decided to bring him because of the fact he was supposed to be fighting with his dad,” Szymecki said. “We saw him as a positive role model.”

After Hyde and his father lost a challenge and were sent home, he said producers weren’t disappointed the two didn’t cause more drama.

“They were upset they didn’t get to tell more of our story,” he said.

During one challenge on the show, Hyde said he had to pull a donkey cart seven miles in 110 degree weather and ended up vomiting. He called a producer and asked if the footage would air, and the producer said, “Andrew, you can’t spew bodily fluids and us not show it.”

Much to Hyde’s satisfaction, the footage didn’t make the cut for the episode.

But once the show aired, Hyde said his friends were calling and saying they saw Hyde’s hurl on, which was pegged as the “American Express Clip of the Week.”

Hyde mentioned he wouldn’t mind doing an “Amazing Race” all-star show.

“It was huge,” he said. “It was such an amazing thing. I guess that’s why they call it ‘The Amazing Race.'”

He also wouldn’t mind doing a season of “Survivor,” adding that he’d like to see the teams split up by sexuality.

“If the straight tribe wins, you get pillows and blankets,” Hyde said, laughing. “If the gay tribe wins, you get a visit from Madonna.”

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].