National Commentary

Review: TLC’s ‘Ex-Gay’ Show Fails Because it is the Gayest Show on Earth


besen-MugWith trepidation I watched “My Husband’s Not Gay,” a show where gay Mormon men married women. 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.
“My Husband’s Not Gay” fails for the “ex-gay” movement because it doesn’t pass the Dan Savage test, which asks whether a father would want his daughter to marry an “ex-gay.” I can’t imagine a loving parent happily sending his daughter down the aisle with any of these gay men. The idea is as implausible as the longevity of the marriages featured in this show.

The anxious wives try mightily to keep a brave face, police their husbands’ genitals, and express confidence in their marriages. However, the façade often cracks and reveals deep unease. At several points, their husbands appeared one wink or gay kiss away from leaving them for men.

This was evident when Jeff said to his wife Tanya: “I think me and the guys are going to go camping in a few weeks.”

Tanya looked like she had seen a ghost, or at least “Brokeback Mountain” on cable TV. “Camping,” she nervously replied. Jeff got defensive and asked, “What’s that look for?” Tanya explained: “When my husband goes on camping trips I get concerned, because anything can happen. Remember the incident that happened in the house a couple of years ago?”

Put in a corner, Jeff sheepishly admits: “There was one time a couple of years ago a couple of guys slept over my house, and let’s just say that things got a little out of control.”

This must be “ex-gay” speak for “dudes were doing dudes while the wife was sleeping.”

Poor Tanya, she must be neurotic. Her husband also admitted: “Who will I notice first, a beautiful man walking down the street or a beautiful woman walking down the street? I’ll notice the beautiful man nine times out of 10.”

It seemed that Jeff spent half the show scheming to jettison the wife to carve out private time with guys. Whether camping, playing sports, cruising for men with his friends, or sleepovers (slumber parties at his age??) Jeff has no shortage of ingenuity in finding ways to metaphorically seduce dudes into visiting his man cave.

The show was also packed with convoluted thinking and circular reasoning. For example, despite her husband incessantly commenting on men he would sleep with, Tanya chirps, “It’s not gay, it’s SSA,” which means “same sex attraction.”

The tortured and conflicted gay men are equally in denial, personified by Tom who says, “I don’t feel like I fit the mold of guys that are attracted to other men, other than my deep and abiding love for Broadway show tunes and the attraction to males.”

This reality clown show becomes downright absurd when the men unveil their 1-4 “danger scale,” as if their sexual orientation is a tornado. They assign a one to simply looking at a man they find attractive, and a four if they are ready to jump his bones.

A revealing moment comes at a restaurant, after Jeff and Pret openly gaze at a hot waiter in front of their pitiable wives. Jeff mentions that he had recently seen a four: “He was at the gym weighing himself and he looked like Superman.”

One scene is a perfect metaphor for the entire “ex-gay” movement. Jeff and Pret are setting Tom up on a blind date with a woman. In this defining scene, the friends drag Tom into a mall so he can buy fancy clothes for his date, although he makes it clear he prefers wearing a T-shirts. It is jarring to watch this pathetic charade where these “friends” are helping Tom buy a costume he doesn’t want to wear, for a date with a woman he doesn’t want to touch, while openly cruising the gay store clerks. They are literally drowning in inauthenticity and constructing a façade to erase Tom’s true identity.
TLC was negligent, however, for failing to disclose that the subjects featured are more than simple Mormon families. They worked for the “ex-gay” organization Evergreen International, and now are affiliated with a group called North Star. Both organizations peddle junk science and work to browbeat gay people into marrying the opposite sex.

“My Husband’s Not Gay” was a monumental failure. Instead of featuring healthy Mormon families, we saw horny homosexuals and the delusional beards, eh wives, who love them.


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”