TLC is defending its upcoming special My Husband’s Not Gay (pictured), as a petition pressuring the U.S. network to cancel the show gains traction online.
The one-hour reality program, which is due to air on January 11, focuses on Mormon men living in Salt Lake City, Utah who say they are attracted to other men but remain married to women and do not identify as gay.
The premise has upset Virginia Beach resident Josh Sanders, whose Change.org petition - urging TLC to cancel the show – has attracted more than 90,000 supporters as of Wednesday morning (January 7).
Sanders, a self-described gay Christian, believes the program sends the harmful message that “being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex.” He argues that the program will promote “the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities.”
In response, TLC is insisting that the show will present viewers with a non-judgmental look at the characters’ lives.
“TLC has long shared compelling stories about real people and different ways of life, without judgment,” the network said, in a statement given to realscreen. “The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves.”
On Tuesday, the media watchdog group GLAAD released a statement in support of the petition and pointed out in a blog post that My Husband’s Not Gay cast member Jeff Bennion is a supporter of so-called “conversion therapy,” which has been made illegal in some U.S. jurisdictions.
“This show is downright irresponsible,” said president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”
Produced by Hot Snakes Media, My Husband’s Not Gay follows three couples and one single man as they “share the challenges they face every day and explain why they have decided to live the way they do,” according to the program description. It also explores how their wives “endure this unusual facet in their relationship, as they strive to make their marriage work.”