On the EDge: ‘My Husband Is Not Gay’ hits new depths in reality TV

OPINION – They are holding the mirror up to Utah again and the reflection does not make a pretty picture.

The Learning Channel, once a pretty classy outfit in the world of cable TV, debuted its latest series Sunday night, a little dose of reality TV it calls “My Husband Is Not Gay.”

The show is built around several Utah Mormon men who are attracted to other men, but have married women to remain members of the church, which forbids homosexual behavior.

TLC has found a bit of a goldmine in Utah, previously airing such other reality shows as “Sister Wives,” “My Five Wives,” and “Escaping The Prophet,” all based on fundamentalist Mormons who are, or were, part of the polygamous communities spread throughout the state. “Sister Wives” and “My Five Wives” fail to show the reality of polygamy, the little girls forced into marriage with much older men, the fraud perpetuated by the group on local and federal governments, and the threat of eternal damnation if they refuse to participate in plural marriage. “Escaping The Prophet” showed some of the dark side of this culture, but was cancelled before all episodes were aired.

So much for reality.

TLC’s latest entrée reflects the attitudes of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the struggle members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community have in maintaining their good standing with the LDS church.

The focus of the show is on how the men truly believe that prayer can eliminate their sexual attraction to other men and that the “gay lifestyle” is a choice that can be reversed with prayer. Their belief is that prayer can “cure” their homosexuality or, as they prefer to say, same-sex attraction.

So much for reality.

There are a number of things wrong with all of this, of course, particularly the belief that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and that it is something that can, or should, be “cured.”

Sort of like going to the bishop who tells them: “Take two prayers and call me in the morning and we’ll see if you are a little less gay.”

At least it is less dangerous than the reparative therapies the LDS church employed in the past, which included electric shock therapy as a supposed “cure” for homosexuality.

The level of denial here is odious, but worse than that, this show is dangerous because of the undue trauma it creates for those who are members of the LGBT community who also wish to walk a spiritual path.

This is not a situation unique to followers of the LDS religion, of course, or members of the Utah LGBT community.

But, the venomous attacks are also not as open and hostile as they are in Utah where the predominant religion poured big bucks into a ballot proposition three states over to try to overturn the individual rights they had worked so hard to attain, or when the community sees the lengths to which the state government will go to in an ongoing, and what will prove to be fruitless, attempt to deny them the simple right to marry. Especially in a state that fails to prosecute the polygamists who take child brides, while persecuting a group of adults who only wish to make a lifelong commitment to the person they love who happens to be the same sex.

I know parents whose children have taken their own lives because of the alienation they have received at the hands of loyal churchgoers who have shunned them, people who live in secrecy for fear that outing themselves would ruin their standing in the community, people who spend a lifetime denying who they are.

It’s not easy living on the outside, especially when your happiness, your job, the roof over your head can be gone in an instant simply by saying, “I am gay.”

If it wasn’t so dangerous, so demeaning, it would be easy to just disregard TLC and its latest reality show. This sort of programming, as we have come to learn, is anything but reality and there is almost nothing that is truly spontaneous or a reflection of the moment, let alone the broader and more intellectual aspect of the human condition.

Reality TV, from the Kardashians to the “Duck Dynasty” crew, is nothing more than a succession of freak shows, geared to the basest intellect among us.

“My Husband Is Not Gay,” however, goes beyond; way beyond. This show isn’t about some talentless media icon who achieved celebrity as a result of a sex tape, it isn’t about some modern-day Beverly Hillbillies, and it isn’t about finding your soul mate on a high-stakes version of “The Dating Game.”

It’s about real people who are willing to do whatever it takes to fit into a society that will never understand who they truly are, how they truly feel, what they truly think.

We were taught in grade school about how the United States was this vast, welcoming melting pot where we could all live happily ever after.

The catch is, of course, that we can all live happily ever after only if we fit the rigid mold and do not threaten or question the pillars upon which this nation sits. To do so means there is something wrong with you, that you are different, and heaven forbid that we are different.

There is a magnificent scene from the movie “Midnight Express” during which the main character, Billy, is walking in a circle around this huge stone in a Turkish prison where the inmates have been so ravaged, so brutalized, so preyed upon that many were driven to madness.

Billy, while walking with the group of murmuring, muttering men, finally realizes that the system, the environment, his tormentors, will not win and starts walking the circle in the opposite direction.

One of the older inmates tells him that he must stop because they are all broken and walking the circle is what their life has become.

Billy says, “I am not broken,” and, in walking backwards around the circle, he unwinds all the wrong that has visited upon him and gains the courage and strength to do what it takes to remove himself from the prison.

It is a strong metaphor that should resonate among those who feel shattered, devastated, broken.

Perhaps the gentlemen featured in this reality TV show should have a private viewing of “Midnight Express.”

Perhaps it will give them the courage to walk the circle in the opposite direction.

Perhaps they will realize they are not broken and do not have to deny, any longer, who they really are.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • Justme..... January 13, 2015 at 7:24 am

    It’s no joke…40% of all gay teens are reported to commit suicide, with a higher percentage obviously attempting. I’ve heard stats that over 90% are homeless as teenagers at some point. The LDS church is not the bad guy here, society runs rampant with bias toward same sex relationships…that’s the reason TLC did this stupid show. If you want to end ridiculous prejudice then it has to begin with yourself and what you teach in your own home. I know many church members who have embraced their gay relatives. If you want the church to change then working from the inside is the best strategy. Peace out….

    • InUtah January 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Sorry, but the LDS church is just as much the bad guy as anyone else. They don’t even follow their own doctrine on how to treat people. Yes, society plays a big part, but religion is the biggest culprit of all. Yes, many in many religions and denominations embrace their gay relatives but continue to keep quiet when it comes to church. That is where the problem lies. Quit sitting on your butts and actually tell your bishop’s, ministers, and the like that Jesus didn’t treat people like they do.

    • Koolaid January 13, 2015 at 10:15 am

      The creator of Proposition 8 and Utah’s Amendment 3.

  • Pam Capone January 13, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I watched the show “My Husband’s Not Gay” – Well I guess those Utah acting lessons they have been taking since they were 6 years old finally paid off. All I saw was a scripted and rehearsed show.

    What a bunch of propaganda, It’s going to take all lot more than that for me to believe their so called “SSA” is something they choose to ignore, so they can still belong to the church.

    Shame on TLC for putting this type of show on the air.

    • Little Dillinger January 13, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      That pretty much sums up what I was going to post. Great Comment. I agree with you 100%

  • Free thinker January 13, 2015 at 8:11 am

    The best way to change is get rid of religion. That is nothing more than fantasy that destroys lives.

    • Brian January 13, 2015 at 10:35 am

      So you’re all for free thinking as long as people think they way you want them to? Seems free to me…

      • Chris January 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

        Anyone who believes in a religion is not a free thinker. If you are religious, you are dumb.

        • Steve January 13, 2015 at 3:27 pm

          If you believe people are stupid if they are religious, you are stupid.

        • Mean Momma January 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm

          Now that’s the dumbest comment I’ve heard all day. Grow up already.

        • Burton January 13, 2015 at 7:21 pm

          That is the most ignorant, moronic post maybe ever. “If you are religious you are dumb”? I personally am not a member of any organized religion, however I do consider myself a Christian. And you “Chris” (ever think a out where YOUR name originated from) are not that bright. Your not even dimly lit! Nothing upstairs just liberal close minded ignorance.

  • Pointing out the obvious January 13, 2015 at 8:48 am

    You tell them Ed! How dare anyone have a different view on their personal sexuality and spirituality then what is approved by the LGBT community. And we cannot just stand by and let them actually *share* that differentiating opinion without mocking, invalidating, and trying to shame them. You know, it’s almost as if you are doing to them what you claim is so wrong when done in the reverse.

    • Brian January 13, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Ed, liberals, and the LGBT community are all about “inclusion” and “tolerance”, except when it comes to anyone that thinks differently than them. If you’re religious, don’t believe the alarmist extreme on global warming, support the 2nd Amendment or Constitution in general, or many other “taboo” subjects, you’re not worthy of tolerance and inclusion. You’re basically their version of an infidel.

      • arts and letters January 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm

        Where in the bloody … do you get your information, Brian? Stop being such a mudslinger and take a look at facts for a change. Exactly how many gay people do you know personally and what do you know about them. When did any of them treat you like an infidel? The only infidels are the bigoted churches and individuals who spread mud like this.
        Ed. ellipsis.

        • Brian January 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm

          You can start with Chris, 4 comments up: “Anyone who believes in a religion is not a free thinker. If you are religious, you are dumb.” Totally tolerant and inclusive, right? We don’t have different opinions, I’m just a moron? “The only infidels are the bigoted churches” So churches are infidels / bigoted because they have values they stand up for? You want the churches to be tolerant of your beliefs, but you don’t want to be tolerant of theirs? And it isn’t OK for a bakery owner to live by their values, hurting no one, but they have to recognize yours? That doesn’t sound like equality, it sounds like special treatment.

          • arts and letters January 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm

            And what would you say about the pastor in N.C. who recently fumed that gays should be rounded up, put in electrified pens and killed? This sounds pretty darned intolerant to me. I don’t recall any gay people asking that straight people, including religious straight people, be rounded up and killed. Most gay people simply want to lead their lives quietly. It’s the religious nuts that want to make war. Are you one of them?

  • arts and letters January 13, 2015 at 9:20 am

    The show is also dangerous in turning a serious life matter into “entertainment.” And anything with the slightest hint of salacious sexuality – in any direction – is happy food for the masses.

    It’s no wonder, though, that Utah and the LDS church (really one and the same I see now) finds itself in the limelight again, if limelight is the right word. Secrecy, intolerance, abusive behavior, the supposedly God-given word that they are superior over the rest of us mortals all contribute to the public’s curiosity and to these sensational shows which are far from reality for the most part. The bishop’s quip, for example, made a good joke on the show, but is unlikely to be heard in real life. If it was heard in real life, it was a brutally hurtful response to a serious plea for help.

    • Burton January 13, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      I am not morman. I understand the show is based on the fundamental break off of what today’s actual Mormon church preaches and promotes. But that is not what the mainstream latter day saints are based on. And why exactly are you not calling out the other organized religions who condemn the same behavior!? The Catholics, protestants, Baptist or any others? You liberals are only tolerant when Christians don’t stand yup p for thier beliefs. We are taught to pray, not hold rallys or protest everything. grow up and tear down the Pelosi poster and think for yourself.

  • Realistic January 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Classy? Is this umbrella supposed to include “Honey Boo Boo” and “Toddlers and Tiaras”? I don’t really think of this channel as classy, but I do agree with the main point in the article. This show could set a deadly precedent. That being said, I feel it it up to us a a society (or as teachers, parents, friends, and fellow members of the human race) to teach the values we perceive as vital. Hopefully some of these include love, tolerance and embracing the truth.

    It is important to remember that this is just one viewpoint, one opinion, out of many. It is up to us to put ourselves out there and show support of others who may be different then ourselves.

    “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  • ajayole January 13, 2015 at 10:40 am

    what a bunch of baloney Ed. Look for a different job.

  • conspiracygirl January 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

    For heck’s sake. It would be great if people could just learn to live and let live — including progressives who want to force their preferences upon gay men who don’t want to live the gay lifestyle.

  • Whirled peas January 13, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Ed is the self appointed arbiter of thought crime.

  • arts and letters January 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

    By the way, Ed, thanks for including the scene from “Midnight Express” – it was a great scene – and is, as you say, a great lesson in standing up to those who want to oppress others. I’d add to that – no God or religion I could believe in would ever condone the treatment so often accorded gay men and women who are not broken, just different. And in truth, not even different. Love is love.

  • ladybugavenger January 13, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I thought I was gay once when i was a teenager, I tried it and I didn’t like it. I tried it again later and i didnt like it, so am I gay or not?

    • mo ferguson January 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Of course you’re gay….as in happy you didn’t like it.

      • ladybugavenger January 13, 2015 at 1:47 pm


      • ladybugavenger January 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

        I tried drugs when I was younger too, but I liked them. Sure wish I hadn’t of liked them. Say no to drugs and yes to hugs!

    • Dana January 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      You were just Bi-Curious. Now,you’re in recovery.

  • bull January 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    As nature testifies, little boys were not created to be little girls period. I wonder if the historical account of Sodum and Gamora, where the whole damn town was led to believe that being gay was cool and not such a bad thing and God wasn’t really sincere when he said ‘ that’s a no-no pervert. Keep it up and I’ll take you out’.
    Who says so? The Man says so. They said, O yeah? I have my rights, you know?
    Being a Mormon, Jew, Christian, whatever has nothing to do with it.
    So when the Learning Channel , Ed K. or current cool opinions are tickling your ear,
    remember history.

    • arts and letters January 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      There’s no historical evidence of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you say there is, please provide the evidence – the Bible is not evidence. But I’ll hand it to you for your creative story. Ever thought about writing fiction?

  • Steve January 13, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Ed has opinions about a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean he knows much about the subject. I’m not going to bother this time to give many examples of how there is a totally different way to view things, but I will say that it is a happier way in this case. And I do know more about the subject than Ed this time.

  • that guy January 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    ED, I was thinking a time or two you sounded like you were gay, can you be honest with us? Are you gay? I mean you say it is ok to be gay. You support gay rights. So your an advocate of sorts it seems. But are you willing to publicly make the statement that you are gay?

    • UTCUSA January 14, 2015 at 3:22 am

      @ That. Guy. Ooooh sounds like you got a gay thing for Ed. so tell us That Guy. are you gay.? You are really interested about Ed I see

  • PHJ January 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    As usual, Ed sticks his foot in it clear up to the knee. Then when he pulls it out, he whines that it got all dirty and tries putting the blame on the local religion for all his woes.
    Funny thing is that he doesn’t even live in the United States of America. He’s chosen to make his life in Mexico.
    Stay there Ed.

  • Who'sIntolerant? January 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    i think the left and LGBT community is hypocritical when they want the freedom to live as they feel right, yet go after these men for living in the way THEY feel is right. These men believe God wants them to live a certain way – and they fight urges from within that conflict with “God’s way”. Who are you to judge their religious beliefs? Because it doesn’t fit YOUR definition of Gay – THAT is intolerant. This takes away the “I was born this way – I can’t change it” line of reasoning, as these men show there IS a choice on who you chose to love and how you chose live. Deluded or not, these guys are doing what they feel is right. Shame on YOU for judging them – you who want so dearly for others to be tolerant of your choices.

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