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Mel and Mike’s Amazing Race

Timothy Kincaid

March 24th, 2009

In 2000, I caught a screening of Chuck and Buck, a movie that was painfully awkward but memorable. Especially noticeable was Buck, an odd looking emotionally stunted young man living in a dream world of his own desire.

I didn’t pay too much attention to Mike White, the screenwriter and actor who played Buck. I had read that he was bisexual and I would catch his face from time to time in something, but I didn’t realize that he had written Orange County, The Good Girl, School of Rock, and Nacho Libre.

And I had no idea that he is Mel White’s son.

Mel, as many of you will know, is the founder of SoulForce, an organization that works for “freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance”.

Mel is also a former ghostwriter for fellow evangelicals, including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and Jerry Falwell. Needless to say, that career path stopped when Mel came out as gay.

And now America is being introduced to Mel and Mike on the Amazing Race. And, if comment boards, bloggers, and reviewers are anything to go by, they are among the most liked competitors.

Mel, especially, has been winning over unexpected supporters and giving a human face to a subset of Americans that is not well known to the public: gracious Christians. After decades of watching the self-righteous and the judgmental on television, Mel is a welcome treat.

We’ve seen Mel on a mountain – waiting for the right wind to hang-glide – telling the viewers that it would not be right to pray for divine help in a competition. We’ve seen Mel and Mike both place much higher priority in family support than in winning money.

But this week, we saw Mel snap at a cab driver in India. Only to then declare, “This race certainly isn’t important enough to dehumanize somebody else by yelling and screaming at ’em. So I’m gonna feel bad about it for the rest of the day.”

But they are not without their challenges. Mel suffered a groin injury early on. And at 68, he’s not likely to win many foot races. Yet somehow Mel and Mike keep coming in at the front of the pack. Mel, who found himself hauling water and hay this week, leapt ahead of much younger competitors by using the correct implements.

As a gay man with an evangelical Christian background, I feel a sense of ownership of Mel White. So it delights me to see that not only are they still in game, they are doing well. But I am particularly delighted that it is not Mel’s success but rather his graciousness, humility, dignity and compassion that are winning him support. And I’m glad that finally there is someone on television who doesn’t make me cringe when they say they are a Christian.

Comments

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Kristie
March 24th, 2009 | LINK

Mel and Mike are the reason I’m actually watching Amazing Race this season. My 11 year old daughter and I have been rooting for them since the get-go and they have just been so fun to watch. What I like most about them is that they seem to have such a great relationship. They seem to respect and love each other so much and it’s so nice to see. I really hope that Mel and Mike can make it all the way to the end because they’ve worked so hard and they have treated everyone else with a lot of respect and kindness.

a. mcewen
March 24th, 2009 | LINK

I know this is supposed to be all serious but I’ve gotta say that I have had the BIGGEST crush on Mike White for years. He is SOOO cute.

Elise
March 24th, 2009 | LINK

Wow. I’ve known of both Mike White and Mel White for years, but I had no idea they were father and son. That’s pretty cool.

It’s worth noting that Mel White isn’t the first gay Christian on Amazing Race– there was a older lesbian couple who were also Episcopalian ministers a few seasons ago. Sadly, they got knocked out of the race pretty early. Hopefully, the Whites do much better.

Jim Burroway
March 24th, 2009 | LINK

Mike’s brilliantly cringeworthy movie Chuck and Buck ranks as one of my all-time favorite movies. Mike’s scriptwriting and portrayal of Buck is not to be missed.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mel once at the first Ex-Gay Survivors conference in Irvine, CA. Unfortunately, I was really tounge-tied and I couldn’t remember the title of his book that was so important to me when I was coming out. (It was Strangers At the Gate.) He just stood there wondering what the do while I struggled to string a coherent sentence together. He was nice about it though.

So yeah, I had two cringeworthy moments with each of the Whites.

Regan DuCasse
March 25th, 2009 | LINK

Folks, they are worth every minute of your admiration and support.

I won’t go into details, but let me just say that these talented men do have MUCH grace that certain Christianists could learn from.

Jason
March 27th, 2009 | LINK

Imagine that, when you show “graciousness, humility, dignity and compassion” you end up “winning over” people.

Sounds to me like the father and son team get it: all you can do is control yourself and hope that others will follow suit.

Now only if other gay bloggers understood that instead of taking the time to bash “the haters.”

Randi Reitan
March 29th, 2009 | LINK

We give thanks for all Rev. Mel White has done to bring an understanding of beautiful truth that God loves and affirms his beloved gay children. It is wonderful America is being introduced to him in this way. His kind and loving presence is known to all in Soulforce …. and now everyone else who watches the show can see this man in action. We love him dearly.

Kris Magcalas
March 30th, 2009 | LINK

Mel and Mike’s Team is my favorite in this season of The Amazing Race. Mel is very smart while Mike is very patient. I admire them because they were able to have fun while in the race which is the thing that really counts. Their bond is priceless. My friends in the Philippines really want their team to win.

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