Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Reality Special My Husband’s Not Gay: Deep in Denial?

Reality Special My Husband’s Not Gay: Deep in Denial?

The saying goes, denial is not just a river in Egypt. And the people in a documentary special to air on the Learning Channel in January apparently live somewhere near there, despite it being set in Salt Lake City. The program focuses on the lives of men practicing the Mormon faith who are sexually attracted to men.

And before you can say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” it should be noted that such attraction is taboo in their religion and that the four men profiled in TLC’s teaser clip on YouTube do not identify as gay. One of them is single and dating and the other three are married to heterosexual women.

In fact, the title of the special, which airs January 11, is a quote of sorts from their partner’s perspective: My Husband’s Not Gay.

ThinkProgress describes the concept as “if Say Yes to the Dress were about couples who aren’t sexually attracted to each other but go ahead and get married anyway, for religious reasons, and if the whole enterprise made you feel uncomfortable and vaguely sad.”

In the promo, one of the men reveals, “I’m attracted to my wife, for sure. And I’m definitely attracted to men too.”

Although the clip takes an irreverent view of the couples’ situation, there is an alarming stance on display — that the men’s same-sex attraction is something they can “overcome” through strength of faith and in their love for their wives. One man says, “There’s no marriage that is perfect. Ours isn’t, but with our faith in God, we believe we can overcome anything.”

As The New York Times reported in October, a high-ranking leader of the Mormon faith, known formally as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reiterated the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage. However, Elder Dallin Oaks did urge his fellow Mormons to try to better understand those with different views and to be kind to them.

The Times noted this was was the third consecutive conference in which marriage was declared limited to a man and a woman. In April, Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church's second-highest governing body, said, “While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not.”

TLC of course is no stranger to controversy in series that focus either on Mormons or antigay fundamentalist Christians. My Five Wives, Sister Wives, and 19 Kids and Counting are just three examples.

And these men appearing in My Husband’s Not Gay will hardly be the first Mormons to acknowledge same-sex attraction, even if they men never characterize themselves as gay. Therapist and self-described “devout Mormon” Josh Weed cowrote a blog post two years ago in which he declared “I, Josh Weed, am homosexual.” The cowriter was his wife, to whom he remains married.

Weed wrote in an addendum, “If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner.” Another Mormon, John Dehlin, told ABC News that was a dangerous concept: “Using religion or spirituality as a way to manage your sexual orientation, by being extra righteous, or extra faithful, as a way to sort of suppress those feelings, or control yourself, is the most damaging way to cope with your same-sex attraction.”

The promo shows happy couples ice skating, playfully holding on to each other, smiling while sitting side by side. But perhaps most interesting in all this is how the women in the program see themselves. One says, “I get a little defensive when somebody calls my husband ‘gay.’”

She’d better be prepared to get a lot more defensive.

Tags: Media, television

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