Should “My Husband’s Not Gay” Air?

The president of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), Sarah Kate Ellis, has argued that the new TLC show “My Husband’s Not Gay” should not air. She says

This show is downright irresponsible. No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to.

A petition to end it before it begins presently has almost 85,000 over 91,000 signatures.

Folks are saying that broadcasting the notion that you can live a “straight life for your faith community” continues to be dangerous, and that the network is airing this for pure entertainment value.

Of course, counterpoints are that of religious liberty, cultural pluralism, or even freedom of speech.

Myself, I’m torn. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been annoyed at situations like conservative Mormons marching in Pride parades, because the politics becomes too fuzzy… but on the other hand, the obviously(?) thin veneer of happiness for most mixed-orientation marriages on the screen might be just what people need.

Opinions?

18 thoughts on “Should “My Husband’s Not Gay” Air?

  1. As I said in my latest SiOB, I think this has a lot of potential to be a positive thing.

    For a lot of young Mormons, the only picture they have of mixed-orientation marriage is the carefully-groomed promotional materials published by Deseret Book. But the goal of a reality show isn’t to promote a particular viewpoint, it’s to serve up drama to keep the viewers coming back. And simply by seeing an additional perspective on what MoMOM is like, young Mormons (and others) will have a more complete picture.

  2. Well, to play devil’s advocate, young people are not particularly good at looking at other people’s lives and making informed decisions based on observation. There’s a reason they say wisdom comes with experience. :p The end result might perhaps be as simple as “gay Mormons on TV doing problematic MoMs contributes to more gay Mormons doing problematic MoMs, trying to do it better somehow.” I suppose it might be unrealistic to think media blackouts would do much to alter that pattern, but blackouts could be a way of saying, “Look, Church, we as a society find this unacceptable. So stop.” Not stop people’s “personal choices,” per se, so much as continue to push the Church to rethink the whole “we know for absolute sure there’s no gays in heaven [because how else can we maintain our gendered hierarchy?]” bit, which leaders are definitely thinking about (or at least stumped about) given the exodus of millennials.

  3. @2 I would have thought the same thing. But did you have a look at the study I linked to?

    Some brand-new peer-reviewed research shows that watching a reality show can inspire young people to think seriously about whether they want to make the same choices.

  4. I have mixed emotions. The reality show will likely have a multiple affects. The conservative religious groups will rally around the Mormon theories of mixed orientation marriages being a legitimate alternative to gay marriage. More progressive individuals will see this as entertainment and affirmation that Mormons are C.R.A.Z.Y. and indeed homophobic.

    The question is how will the young men and women in the church, who are gay, feel about themselves and how will this affect their decisions in choosing a marriage option. I’m afraid they will see this as their only option; while the truth of it is that mixed orientation marriages work for very few people. For most people it ends in sadness, anger and difficult divorces.

    Maybe TLC could follow up with the reality show ‘How I Find Sex on the Side with Men, While my Wife Supports My Gayness’. Or ‘Fast Forward Ten Years’ the reality show portraying the lives of divorced couples who would definitely do it different next time.

    I’m gay and out of naiveness and expectation I married a man in the temple, had three children, then went through an excruciating process of coming out, finding my way and divorcing my husband. Followed by the lifelong process of putting our lives back together and making sure our children were, and are, always placed first in all our decisions.

    I have no regrets, I wouldn’t trade my life’s experiences; but, I also wouldn’t wish this suffering on anyone else.

    The happiness I have now with my wife and adult children is beyond amazing and it is so much more authentic than anything I had while married to a man in a religion that didn’t accept me.

    So for the sake of freedom of speech and freedom to choose what one will watch on TV; I say to TLC- ‘carry on’. But, as far as my personal concerns and fears go I say to TLC – ‘Thanks for nothing and I hope the damage is minimal’.

  5. As a gay man formerly in the exact same position as these men I am trying to imagine what I would have thought and done after seeing such a show. After all this is a fairly new phenomenon…to be openly gay, married and LDS.

    First of all I can’t imagine my ex living with it. She is the one who filed for divorce, not me.

    Second, I can’t imagine living peacefully and comfortably in any of the wards I’ve lived in or being fully accepted by the leadership. Let’s be honest, no matter how Mormon they are, they are socially second class Mormons at best.

    Third, I agree fully with Chanson and the study she cited. I think the greater tendency would be to see this and have it be a deterrent to such a life. What young woman wants this for themselves? What father wants this for their daughters? As a closeted gay man it would have given me some hope but exclusively within the context of Mormonism. As I was living that life pretty well I might add, I was miserable

  6. to be openly gay, married and LDS.

    I think the greater tendency would be to see this and have it be a deterrent to such a life.

    Two points I want to make of essential agreement.

    First, indeed, the title “My Husband’s Not Gay” is misleading, because even if the men don’t identify as “gay,” it’s still the equivalent of being “out.” Which is different in the sense of “What does this mean for the future of MoMs?”

    But secondly, I don’t think there’ll be too much effect on the exit rate of gay Mormons, which has always been very high (even when the closet was the policy, the exit rate was still like 70%, if I remember correctly). I don’t think there’s much the Church can do to stop that because of the theological wall. You can try to be as nice and welcoming as you want to any array of sexualities, but if you can’t be intimate with your chosen partner after a childhood that emphasizes the “two halves make a whole” sensibilities about marriage, then it’s all for naught. Gay marriage makes so much more sense than traditional LDS marriages to most gay Mormons. I’ve met a number of gay Mormon millennials (there are so many gay Mormons here in Seattle, lol), and the recurring story is usually kinda like, “Well, I guess I stop going to church now, because my [present or future] boyfriend and I don’t fit in.”

    So, I’ll update my equation with: “a minority of gay Mormons on TV doing problematic MoMs contributes to a continued minority of gay Mormons doing problematic MoMs, trying to do it better somehow. Meanwhile, most gay Mormons continue to quietly walk away from the Church.”

  7. I hoped they get paid very very well to appear on that show.
    They’re going to live with it the rest of their lives.

  8. The is awesome! One of my first memories in life was being attracted to the same sex. I grew up with kids calling me “tomboy”. As I reached adulthood and entered into a loving relationship with Christ I knew I needed to leave these thoughts behind.
    I told my fiance about it and we married. I still had thoughts about the same sex during my marriage. What really helped was knowing that I gave up something so small compared to what Christ had done for me by taking my place on that cross. Today, I am happily married with 4 kiddos and living in total Freedom!!!
    You may not agree with this new show so just change the channel. That is what a lot of people do who do not agree with homosexual reality shows do.

  9. It boils down to me supporting freedom of speech in spite of whether I agree or disagree with the content. I won’t sign a petition to stop the program. I’ll just do as Rose suggests and watch something more palatable like ‘Sister Wives’. (irony intended).

    Okay, actually if I’m honest, I did watch Sister Wives and I enjoyed it. (There I said it). The effect this program had on me was that I have more sympathy towards their situation and perhaps find their brand of plural marriage more palatable. It certainly did not make me want to experience their lifestyle; and I definitely think they are a bit crazy. It did not change my mind about the more abusive brand of polygamy. But if the Browns lived in my neighborhood I would be their friend. (Well, at least Meri and Janelle would be). :o)

  10. @9 I think this isn’t technically a “freedom of speech” issue. TLC is a private corporation, and they’re not obligated to devote their resources to producing and broadcasting every message. For example, if I were to send TLC a video (or a reality-show idea), and they said “No, we don’t want to broadcast this,” — that wouldn’t be an infringement on my freedom of speech. If people were petitioning the government to censor the show, that would be a freedom of speech issue.

    It’s more a mind-your-own-business issue. If TLC wants to produce the show, and lots of people want to watch it (but you don’t), then before meddling, you might stop to consider whether it’s time to MYOB.

  11. p.s. Of course killing people to prevent them publishing certain things (eg. what happened to Charlie-Hebdo) is indeed a freedom of speech issue.

  12. @Suzanne: Mayne’s article makes good points. I would respond if I had time (have to go out-of-town), but I’m curious if what Mayne says changes Chanson’s view at all. :) Mayne seems to be arguing that without actions from the LDS institution, this show is more damaging than not.

  13. @10 I see what you mean regarding freedom of speech. Signing a petition isn’t interfering with anyone’s freedom of speech it’s simply exercising freedom of speech by telling TLC what one thinks or feels. Sorry for going off topic I let myself get carried away. :\

    In reading the HP article linked to by @12 I find myself agreeing with many of the opinions expressed. But I still don’t think I’ll sign the petition. Maybe I’m being irresponsible by not speaking up against something that I think is stupid and potentially damaging but I also think people have to use their own best judgement (even if that judgement is damaging) to determine what’s good and true to them.

    I’m trying to imagine any good that would come from the airing of this program.

    I can’t imagine that anyone who already supports gay marriage will be persuaded to think any differently. I think that TBMs will be delighted and will tout this as a legitimate alternative to gay marriage. So in the end all will be the same and both sides will be strengthened in their own opinions.

    I keep returning to what I stated in my first comment @4 that the damage will be to gay youth and gay TBMs who will see this as a ‘good’ alternative. And it just isn’t a good alternative for most people. It is potentially damaging and devastating.

    Who will watch the show? Faithful members? Parents of gay youth? Gay youth? Non-members? People who are just curious and want to be entertained by other people’s lives. Hell I don’t know; I might watch it myself because I’m so curious. It will probably just make me angry and my wife will make me turn it off.

    So @Alan and @Chanson @Suzanne and @D’sPS are you signing the petition? Are you tuning in tomorrow?

  14. I’ll neither sign the petition nor watch the show, but keep myself abreast of it perhaps. Mostly out of indifference… For example, I read of a scene where a couple is walking toward a sunset with their young daughter holding hands between them, and they lift her up in slowmo. No thanks.

  15. I do wish all the articles coming out against the show would be more nuanced in terms of calling the show “reparative therapy.” I think that term conjures the idea of “straight is good, gay is bad,” whereas now the paradigm is “straight/gay orientations are neutral. Just don’t ‘act’ on the gay one.” This might seemingly be splitting hairs, but I can see some young gay Mormon somewhere being like, “Well, the outside world just doesn’t get what we’re trying to do here.”

  16. So @Alan and @Chanson @Suzanne and @D’sPS are you signing the petition? Are you tuning in tomorrow?

    I won’t be watching because I don’t really watch television in general (and I don’t even know how to get TLC in Switzerland). And I won’t sign the petition, either, because — despite what many people are saying — I still think it is most likely that it will be a net deterrent.

    Even though they’re specifically showcasing people who gain their livelihood from portraying MoMOM as a better alternative to “the gay lifestyle.” From all the sanitized, PR-friendly stuff I’ve read from this crowd, I think they consistently fail at portraying their lifestyle as something you would actively want to choose for yourself. And having the reality-cam on 24-7 makes it that much harder to keep the PR-face on.

    I think the show will be watched by a whole lot of people who want to believe that straight marriage is the best way to deal with “SSA.” And I think the average viewer will come out of it thinking that it’s still the best alternative in theory — but that they would never want that life for themselves.

    That’s my best guess. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see what happens!

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