Oprah Winfrey is known as a strong LGBT ally, but a new reality show on her cable network stars a hugely homophobic minister from Texas.
The Book of John Gray on OWN follows Gray, associate pastor of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston. “Known for his loud, hilarious, unconventional and gravitating ways, Gray has traveled the world utilizing his gifts of music, comedy and preaching to help bring people together from all walks of life and share the Gospel in his unique and uncompromising way,” reads an OWN press release.
Gray “frequently uses social media to denigrate and mock the LGBT community,” Salon notes. Among the examples: He has used his Twitter account to say that being gay is “no different from fornication, adultery, lying, or any other sin God was clear about”; that a mass same-sex wedding ceremony at the Grammy Awards was “dishonoring people of faith”; and that Target “overstepped” in its policy of letter transgender people use the restrooms and dressing rooms of their choice. And when CNN aired a show on bullying in response to Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committing suicide in 2010 after his roommate spied on him in a romantic encounter with another man, Gray said the program “better not just be about gay kids.”
Winfrey’s decision to spotlight Gray with a six-episode docu-series, which premiered April 15, seems at odds with her record of sympathetic interviews with LGBT celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jenny Boylan, and Janet Mock. But in 2012 she hosted Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of a Dallas megachurch, and he called being gay a sin. He has since said his position is “evolving” and that he encourages LGBT Christians to find a church that’s appropriate for them.