The Amazing Race 36 features not one, but two LGBTQ+ couples for the very first time: ‘So cool’

It’s almost mind-blowing that we are now up to season 36(!) of The Amazing Race: the hit US reality show where 13 teams of two embark on a race around the world in a bid to win $1 million.

The show first aired in 2001, and over the years it has been a real hotbed of LGBTQ+ representation, with a staggering 94 out LGBTQ+ teams taking part over the course of the programme’s long history. But only one out LGBTQ+ team has appeared per series… until now.

“Gay underdogs” Ricky and Cesar are one of two LGBTQ+ couples this season, the other being lesbian couple Yvonne Chavez and Melissa Main.

The Amazing Race 36 started in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this year: a favourite destination for the LGBTQ+ community, and racers are making their way from there through Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Barbados and the Dominican Republic before finishing in Philadelphia.

Ricky and Cesar recently spoke to about appearing on the hit show, saying that they think they’ believe that they’re seen as “underdogs” for presenting as more like a “bear-ish gay couple” than previous gay couples on The Amazing Race.

Ricky Rotandi is a 34-year-old preschool teacher, and Cesar Aldrete is a 34-year-old chef and food stylist. They’ve been together since 2018.

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Cesar explained that he’s a “super fan” of The Amazing Race, saying: “I would watch all the American seasons and the Latin American seasons. I was really a big fan of it. The show gave me a lot of inspiration to travel, so during the [lockdown], after I had met Ricky, we were just binge-watching.”

However, he’d planned get in shape before appearing on the show: “With the Race, I was always thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll apply whenever I get in shape… then COVID happened and I was like, ‘You know what? Hopefully, nothing happened to the show, but if something happened, I don’t want to live with the regret that we never applied.’ So I went like, ‘Ricky, we’re applying.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ The next day, we got a call.”

Ricky and Cesar also spoke about the fact that they are competing alongside lesbian couple Yvonne and Melissa this year. Cesar told Out: “It’s also the first time that there’s a gay and a lesbian couple, so there was an immediate connection.” Filming on the show is now complete, but Ricky says they have stayed in touch.

“Oh, yeah, they’re so awesome,” Ricky said. “We have kept in contact with them. We have biweekly or monthly Zoom calls with them. They’re just absolutely wonderful people. And having this LGBTQ+ representation with everything going on in the world… to see people like you and to normalise it, I think that’s so important.

Photo shows lesbian couple Yvonne Chavez and Melissa Main applying face paint on The Amazing Race
Yvonne Chavez and Melissa Main applying face paint on The Amazing Race (CBS)

Like Ricky and Cesar, Yvonne and Melissa also sat down to chat to

Yvonne Chavez is a 40-year-old global strategy and operations lead, and Melissa Main is a 38-year-old investigator for U.S. Navy special operations; they’ve been together for a total of five years.

They say they were excited to meet Ricky and Cesar, saying: “It kind of tripped us up. We were like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re not the only gay couple?’ That’s the first, as far as I know, on The Amazing Race… where they had two LGBTQ+ couples. So cool.”

Yvonne and Melissa explained that they’re not a “stereotypical” “U-Haul lesbian” couple (a term given to lesbians whose relationship moves very quickly.

“No, (we’re) not at all the stereotypical U-Haul (couple), says Melissa. “That’s going to be something that we talk about on the show. You’ll see this potential journey of moving in and things like that… because we are just so slow. We like to take our time. We’re very deliberate. And you’ll also see how that plays out in the show.”

How to watch The Amazing Race 36

The season premiered on CBS on March 13, 2024 and is set to finish on May 15, 2024. It airs live on CBS,

The Amazing Race season 36 will air live on CBS, which is available through traditional pay-TV subscriptions or live TV streaming services like Fubo, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

You can also watch on Paramount Plus. Past seasons of The Amazing Race are also available to watch on Paramount Plus. Old episodes are also available in the UK on Amazon Prime Video.