Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Message Behind "My Husband's Not Gay" Might Not Be What You Assume

I wrote last month about a new TLC special called "My Husband's Not Gay," which follows a group of Mormon guys with "same-sex attractions" and wives and who want to world to know that they aren't gay -- despite those same-sex attractions.

"My Husband's Not Gay" has snagged a lot of attention. I've read a lot about the program since it was initially announced. I've been assured by people who know these guys that they are not bisexual. They apparently are only attracted to men -- and presumably their wives.

 Lot of people are upset with TLC's decision to produce and broadcast this show. They feel that it promotes harmful reparative ex-gay therapy. They feel that it shames gay and lesbian people of faith into repressing their homosexuality and seeking sham straight marriages. They feel that it shames LGBT people of faith, which in turn promotes feelings of self-harm and suicidal ideation. They feel that it encourages heterosexual people into asserting that all LGBT people should strive become heterosexual and/or to seek opposite-sex marriages. And they feel that it encourages straight women to become props within gay men's ex-gay efforts.

I understand those points and I sympathize with a lot of them. And maybe it helps that I never wasted a moment or a dollar within any ex-gay therapy session or ministry. But I really don't care that TLC plans to air this program. I most likely won't ever be watching it.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's stupid for gay and lesbian people to marry heterosexually. I've rarely seen it work out in the long run. And I've lost patience with people on forums such as Gay Christian Network who actively seek straight spouses to marry -- despite a GCN forum specifically devoted to gay and lesbian people struggling for support within shakey mixed-orientation marriages.


But I worry that the efforts that LGBT people and our allies have put into denouncing the program -- including a petition for TLC to scrap the whole thing -- have just served to attract more viewers who otherwise would never have looked for "My Husband's Not Gay."

That said, I do think it's worth noting that two of the men featured within this program are leaders within the ex-gay movement. So we should be mindful that they definitely have a larger agenda going on here besides their effort to live private heterosexual family lives.

Here's the thing though. It looks like professional ex-gay debunker Wayne Besen got ahold of a copy of the special and learned that "My Husband's Not Gay" is much more of a joke as opposed to a serious exploration of successful mixed-orientation marriages:
With trepidation I watched “My Husband’s Not Gay.” I feared that it would be an effective tool to recruit impressionable youth into “ex-gay” programs, promote junk science, and airbrush the pain that often results from unstable mixed orientation marriages. 

To my surprise, this show backfired. It may actually help the LGBT community, while harming the very “ex-gay” programs that this show sought to promote. The featured subjects appeared insincere, unconvincing, and gayer than Liberace in spandex. 

Indeed, to my surprise I found the show somewhat enjoyable. After all, what gay man wouldn’t enjoy a frivolous hour of cute gay men ogling even cuter gay men? The wives, in many cases, were mere onlookers while their husbands cooed about one stud after another. 

This was probably the gayest production I’ve watched since The Birdcage, with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Far from an effective advertisement for sexual orientation change efforts or reparative therapy, this show made a mockery of it. 
In other words, maybe it's a good thing that people will get to watch this program. Maybe it will teach people some real truths about those who seek to fight their inner gay. And that will be a very good message indeed.

1 comment:

Donny Jacobs said...

Jon,

I think it's probably true that the intent of this show's "ex-Gay" participants will be completely undermined once it airs. All the same, shame on Wayne Besen for taking such a flippant tone! As funny as he thinks these closeted men are, they are hurting for sure. Their families are gonna be hurting, too, as a result of the disastrous choice they've been pressured to make. I can't derive any amusement from such a painful situation.