By Albert Lin
A TLC reality special is facing heavy criticism before it even airs.
The one-hour show, My Husband’s Not Gay, is scheduled to air on Sunday night. It follows four Mormon menthree of whom are married to women and one who is looking for a bridewho do not identify as homosexual even though they are attracted to men. According to the network’s description of the show, the men “refer to it as Same Sex Attraction not gay, SSA.”
GLAAD is the most prominent LGBT group to condemn the special. “This show is downright irresponsible,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”
A Change.org petition calling on TLC to cancel the program has gathered nearly 80,000 signatures. Organizer Josh Sanders writes: “The men featured in this show deserve to be shown compassion and acceptance. Perhaps even more importantly, TV viewers need to know the horrific consequences of trying to change who you are. Instead, TLC is presenting victims’ lives as entertainment, while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex. This message is harmful to both LGBT people and communities of faith, and I call upon TLC to stop spreading such dangerous misinformation by cancelling My Husband’s Not Gay immediately.”
Salon called the show “a crass stunt,” “a freak show” and “a cheap, exploitative diversion.”
The show highlights the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ opposition to same-gender marriage and its stance on the LGBT community. The church used to believe that homosexuality was a sin; now, however, it accepts homosexualityas long as sex is not involved. “Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married,” reads a sentence on LDS.org.
Truth Wins Out revealed that seven of the cast members are deeply affiliated with what the nonprofit calls “a radical Mormon ‘ex-gay’ group.” One of the stars, Jeff Bennion, has written in support of gay-conversion therapy. “For the network to air this infomercial for junk science is unconscionable,” Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen said.
Interestingly, one LGBT advocate supports the airing of the show because of the religion angle. “At least now we’re talking about this,” writes Tim Rymel. “At least now these men aren’t sitting alone with their own thoughts figuring out deceptive ways to look normal in their religion, appeasing their parents and lying to themselves. At least now they are not actively searching, or attending an ex-gay ministry to try and fix them. At least now the very real internal battle is something we can see and talk about. This show wouldn’t have aired 10 years ago, or maybe even five years ago. It’s a baby step, but it’s still a step in the direction toward an honest conversation.”
TLC responded to the critics with a brief statement: “TLC has long shared compelling stories about real people and different ways of life, without judgment. The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves.”
Watch a trailer for the special below: