This Sunday, January 11th, TLC will air the first episode of a new series, "My Husband's Not Gay." In the provocatively titled reality show, the lives of Mormon couples "struggling with issues of same-sex attraction" will be detailed. The men spotlighted are in heterosexual marriages, but the husbands state plainly that they are attracted to men.
The show follows the lives of three married couples: Jeff and Tanya, Pret and Megan, and Curtis and Tera, each with a husband who "admits" to being sexually attracted to men. You might call that "being gay," but they certainly don't. As one wife puts it, "I get a little defensive when somebody calls my husband gay." This, from a woman who readily admits that her husband is attracted to men. This level of cognitive dissonance deserves some kind of ironic award. It simply boggles the mind. Also joining the cast is 35-year-old Tom, the bachelor of the group who enjoys fishing and baseball and served as a missionary in Long Beach, and who (regardless of his strong sexual attraction to men) longs to be married to a woman. We're not talking about bisexual men here, by the way. We're talking about GAY men.
The watchdog organization, Truth Wins Out, recently revealed that all three couples are part of a campaign by the Voices of Hope Project to convince gay men that they can change their sexual orientation, to promote heterosexual relationships and marriage as part of that change, and to further the belief that homosexuality is sinful.
Not surprisingly, all cast members are devout Mormons (i.e., members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Mormon doctrine makes no room for misunderstanding. They consider same-sex attraction to be against the natural world created by god, and any action toward it to be sin. The Mormon church was instrumental in funding efforts to pass California's Prop 8, a 2008 law that temporarily prohibited same-sex marriage in the state. (It was later overturned in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.)
Like TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," (who live as adherents to the Quiverfull Movement), and "Sister Wives," (which spotlights the controversial practice of plural marriage), the show addresses dark and emotionally compelling religious issues in a flippant and almost joyful manner.
Although it's easy to view the couples in "My Husband's Not Gay" as idiotic, we need to keep in mind that there's plenty of victimization to go around here. There are, of course, the women who are getting themselves into marriages with a high risk of unhappiness and failure. Then there are the children who are at equal risk of emotional scars, unstable lives due to divorce, etc. And there are, of course the men, whose religion teaches them that their sexual orientation is based in varying degrees of sinfulness, mental illness, and choice. To them, homosexuality is synonymous with perversion, and the only way to attain forgiveness and to live a normal, happy life is to acquire some degree of heterosexuality. Faced with the options of losing their faith, their families, their friends, and even their self-worth or shoehorning themselves into marriage with a woman, the choice seems rather clear.
As any social scientist or mental health professional can attest, sexual orientation is not open to change. Years of study have shown that homosexuality is found in hundreds of species, has existed throughout recorded human history, and has no causal relationship with mental or physical illness. Moreover, no medical or psychological intervention can successfully change ones sexual orientation. Such attempts simply lead to failure, and often increased susceptibility to depression and risk of suicide. Dozens of professional organizations have condemned practices that seek to change people's sexual orientation as ineffective and dangerous.
Of course, this doesn't stop religious organizations from supporting organizations such as Exodus International, NARTH, or the lesser known JONAH. And it certainly does nothing to stop them from preaching messages of hatred and sin to their congregants. And as a ratings bonanza, TLC seems more than willing to use the "freak show" component of these people's lives to further their destructive causes.
Please join me in writing to ask that they cancel this show:
I am writing to express my dismay at your decision to air a program called "My Husband's Not Gay" on TLC.
This show spotlights the lives of men and women who are in denial about sexual orientation, and who have been taught that they cannot reconcile natural same-sex attraction and their faith.
As opposed to addressing this topic in a serious manner, balancing their beliefs with the science of sexuality, you chose instead to create a "freak show" by making a reality show out of the couples' lives.
Worse, it has come to my attention that all seven of the main cast are part of an ex-gay group called North Star. Dozens of medical and psychological organizations have spoken out against attempts to "change" sexual orientation as ineffective and potentially damaging to self-esteem, even leading to suicide.
Your efforts to commercialize on this subject are disappointing, and as a loyal viewer of your other programming, I respectfully request that you cancel the show.