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Rough trade

Rough trade


When TV's Wife Swap landed an ultraconservative Texas homemaker in a two-mommy household in Arizona, the homophobia flowed hot and heavy. How did it feel to be in the direct path of the bigotry? The Advocate talks to lesbian mom Nicki Boone

It was only a matter of time before ABC's Wife Swap went there. In this week's episode (airing Wednesday, February 9, at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific), liberal-leaning Arizona lesbian Kris Luffey trades places with Texas conservative Christian Kris Gillespie. And while Gillespie's staid, taciturn husband, Brian, and their three teenage children are depicted as taking the lesbian invasion of their upscale Texas home mostly in stride, Luffey's partner, Nicki Boone, her 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and the virulently antigay Gillespie didn't exactly "somehow form a family." Boone spoke to about her 10-day ordeal with the perfect Christian mom [Kris Gillespie has refused to do press about the show]:I just want to say before we get started that I'm from Texas myself, and while there are plenty of antigay Christians out there, there are also a sizeable minority who would have treated y'all a whole lot nicer than Kris Gillespie did.Yes, but ABC wouldn't have wanted that, right?True. Fireworks make better TV. How long where you swapped?Kris wasn't with us very long. About 10 days.Five days of your routine and then five days where she made all the rules. Did you have any expectations going in?I knew what I was getting into. I assumed we'd be paired with an extreme opposite. I figured it would be a conservative heterosexual couple. We were actually just hoping to be seen as a gay family on TV, to show people that our lives are not very different from anyone else's.What sort of changes took place in your family after the show taped?Well [laughs] I mow the grass now. Of course the show was fixated on that. What you didn't see, what wasn't explained well, was that I do all the inside housework already. But I've stepped up and I do it sometimes. And we did learn a little more about how to understand one another.Have you seen any changes in your daughter, Elizabeth?No. We were hoping for some [laughs]! We were hoping she'd stop the "I hate you! You're mean!" stuff and see that all parents are "mean." But she didn't see that. Kris Gillespie was nothing but kind to her.Did Elizabeth have any ideas about what religious people were like before this?Yes and no. We're religious ourselves. We attend church every week, and my family is also very Christian. We're just not fundamentalists.Oh, wow, see, because the episode never mentions that y'all go to church too.No they didn't. But whatever. I know I go.Did Kris Gillespie ever inspire genuine fear in you?No, I'm not afraid of people like her. Kris [Luffey], on the other hand, there were times when she was. She and [Gillespie's husband] Brian had some arguments that didn't make the episode, and she also had to go to church with them. It was "Marriage Amendment Sunday, Call Your Senator Monday" day. So she had to sit through a gay-bashing sermon. And Brian signed an amendment petition in front of her at church. It was very emotional for her.I could see from the end of the episode that there's a definite division of labor with you two. Your Kris was doing the crying and you were doing the yelling.If someone pushes me, I get upset, especially when it's completely idiotic.Were there moments during the week when you and Kris Gillespie got along well at all? The episode shows her just being meaner than a snake to you almost all the time. And you didn't necessarily shrink from her yourself.There were. We both knew how to be civil when it was necessary. There was a dinner party that you don't see, and we all had very pleasant conversations that night. She invited missionary friends of hers who happened to live in our town. And I know how to be social. I know how to keep my politics under my hat for a dinner party. Afterward, the producers were like, "Well, you didn't bring up anything controversial." And I said, "Well, we weren't talking about it. It didn't come up." If you get in my face I'll get passionate with you. But we were talking about missionary work, and I was interested in that. I had nothing rude to say to them. I know how to treat guests in my own home. But when it was just Kris and me it often became very tense. She'd bring up an issue and I'd go to the Internet to get some real facts to show her about her misconceptions.In the final moments of the show, did Kris Gillespie actually call you sexual predators?She used those words. She used them from the beginning. She was concerned about her daughter--that my Kris was going to molest her.Oh, God.Yes, not that Kris was going to convert her daughter to lesbianism, but that she was literally going to molest her.And while the episode shows you all talking about having learned something about yourselves during the filming, Gillespie announces very clearly and very plainly and in a very unpleasant tone, that you had "brought nothing to [her] table."That really hurt Kris, and that was one of the other reasons she cried at the end. She went to their house and really tried to do some helpful things, buying art supplies for the daughter, giving the kids a little more freedom. [Gillespie] was just incredibly mean-spirited.Are y'all going to put the Gillespies on your Christmas card list, just to annoy them? Make yourself a little holiday thorn in their side every year?[Laughs] No, no. I'm not like that. I can't antagonize people that way. What I hope is that Kris watches the episode and allows herself to process the idea that she is actually that person that she sees on-screen, and that maybe she can learn some compassion and some better ways to behave.

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