TLC’s My Husband’s Not Gay faces backlash

Reggie Myers

A petition recently popped up at the end of 2014 to protest another TLC program.  This time, it’s targeted at their upcoming special titled My Husband’s Not Gay.

The special, which is scheduled to air this Sunday (January 11), focuses on four Mormon men (three married and one single) as they try to stay faithful to their wives and deny their attraction to men in order to stay in accordance with their faith. As seen in the trailer below, the wives know their husbands have same-sex attractions and support their men while the one single man is actively searching for a wife and learning how to disclose his attractions to his potential mate.

Since the trailer’s debut, several prominent individuals in the LGBT community have spoken out against the show.

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In a statement on GLAAD’s blog, president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, ‘This show is downright irresponsible. 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.’

Robin Roberts, the openly lesbian host of Good Morning America, also spoke out about the show. She said, ‘To even give the idea that it is a choice can be very dangerous. Especially for young people who are dealing with their sexuality and trying to figure things out.’

These statements coincide with the sudden publicity the petition has received. Josh Sanders, the petition’s creator, wrote a moving open letter to supporters where he describes his own struggle to accept his sexual orientation and his experiences with so-called reparative therapy, which one of the cast members wrote an op-ed (the NY Post, really?) in support of despite the practice being universally denounced among mental health professionals as ineffective and harmful.

He then goes on to address TLC directly, writing:

‘I’m urging you to cancel your upcoming special, ‘My Husband’s Not Gay,’ which promotes the false message that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities.

The men featured in this show deserve to be shown compassion and acceptance. Instead, TLC is presenting their lives as entertainment while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be ‘changed’ or that you can fight your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex. This message is harmful to both LGBT people and communities of faith, and sends a dangerous message to viewers.

Please cancel this special, and don’t send the message that LGBT people have to ‘change’ or hide in the closet in order to find acceptance.

Thank you.’

To date, the petition has almost 90,000 signatures. It needs a total of 150,000 to meet its goal.

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While nothing has been heard yet from TLC regarding whether the special will still air, the chances of TLC cancelling the special are slim to none. While Here Comes Honey Boo Boo has been cancelled due to the mother dating a pedophile, 19 Kids & Counting, with the notoriously homophobic and transphobic Duggar family, has not seen any consequences for their off-screen actions.

I am usually a person who does not believe in hiding people away because of unpopular beliefs, even the ex-gays (and believe me when I say it took a long while to get to this place), but considering recent events, I think it’s irresponsible at best to air the special. While I would like to believe watching this special would simply give others an inside look at how someone who is taking this particular road in life lives, there will inevitably be those who take the show and its depictions of reparative therapy as an endorsement of their anti-LGBT views, whether it is towards themselves, family and friends, or worse yet, their children.

So I think the best thing people who don’t want to see more specials like this on TV can do besides speaking out against it is to boycott it, because all that matters in the television industry is ratings. Not tweets, not opinion pieces, not negative press. Just ratings, and if TLC sees their ratings drop, only then will they get the message that programming that could spread harmful ideologies against LGBT people are not only morally wrong but financially unwise as well.

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About Reggie Myers

Reggie Myers is a writer and communications professional living in Philadelphia, Pa., where he graduated from Temple University. Music, television, film, books, video games, politics, and human sexuality are just a few of the many things that make him tick. When he's not working behind a computer screen, you can find him looking for new adventures, practicing photography, scheming ways to get to the front row of a concert, or scouring the corners of the internet for new music to put his friends on to. @reggieakil