My Husband’s Not Gay Review by Daniel Mingo
On Sunday night, January 11, 2015, cable station TLC aired a program called “My Husband’s Not Gay.” It was a reality show featuring three couples and a single man, all of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormons or LDS. All of the men are same-sex attracted (SSA), but have chosen to live a heterosexual life, much like many of us who have walked away from homosexuality, citing their Mormon faith as being the reason for not pursuing a gay identity.
As we have seen over the past couple of years, there are many new and varied expressions of Christians who identify as being SSA. One distinction that these couples made was termed, “SSA, not gay.” Each wife was made aware of her husband’s SSA at some point in their relationships, though not necessarily prior to their weddings.
Overall, I had a positive response to the showing of this program. It presented these marriages realistically, in both the positive and negative aspects related to the men’s SSA. All of the married couples seemed to have solid relationships with their own spouses, which were reflected in their open communication and transparency with each other. And as couples, they all seemed to get along well together. They also talked of struggles and challenges in the marriages, such as the wives observing the day to day attractions their husbands face. One wife told her husband to just go ahead and look at cute guys rather than keep noticing him trying to sneak looks. And even so, this particular wife appeared to be secure in their relationship. Another issue came up when a husband wanted to go on a camping trip with some guys his wife did not know. His wife was understandably suspicious. To me, this was a no-brainer, and certainly a step backwards for trying to build trust with a spouse.
A second positive aspect was several of the quotes that were shared throughout the hour long show. One of the fellows stated, “I thought for a long time that I was gay; I thought that these feelings defined me.” He then went on to share how he had come to an understanding how they did not define him. Another remarked, “What the LDS church teaches is that behavior is a choice, that choosing to act on these feelings is what it’s all about; having the feelings, not so much.” During the scene showing the four men going to shoot baskets, one of the guys said in his commentary, “I don’t think I’m playing basketball to make me more manly; I’m playing basketball to feel connected to a part of masculinity I felt excluded or rejected by.” I suspect that statement struck a chord with many of us, and I view that as part of Father’s reclamation process in us. And finally, one of the men declared at the end of the program, “I don’t think the SSA will ever go away totally. I think I’ll always have some level of attraction to men, but I’m okay with that.”
A third positive perspective was how the men all portrayed themselves as secure in who they are as men now. There was no self-loathing. They talked about positive changes that have occurred in their lives since choosing to live the way they believe is God’s will for them.
Though while my overall response to the program was positive as I mentioned above, and I would certainly recommend the show to other folks to watch, there were some troubling points about the presentation as well. Coming from a Christian worldview, as I suspect most who will be reading this piece will be, I’m always going to measure what I read, see and watch by a Biblical standard. While the subjects talked about their LDS church and faith and their “gospel message,” for my taste it stopped way too short by not introducing Jesus as the One who enables us to no longer carry out the desires of the flesh. Rather than quote Biblical text to underscore their choices to live in a heterosexual marriage, they quoted the Book of Mormon. This representation, to me, spoke only to a decision to live a life one way versus another, and not any kind of change towards holiness in their lives, which the Lord calls us to. One of my Facebook friends put it this way, “Different Jesus. Theirs is “brother of” and equal in power to Satan as created beings. Ours is begotten, not created, through Whom all things have been created; the Son of God. God incarnate.”
Secondly, one of the wives described her husband’s SSA as “So, it’s somebody who is attracted to the same sex, but wants to be in a heterosexual relationship.” While this definition perfectly fits the lives of those in the show and its premise, it is limited to their experiences only. There are thousands of SSA individuals who do not want to live in a heterosexual relationship, or may not want to embrace a gay-identified life either. Just clarifying!
Also, there were some statements made during the program, with which I believe many would take issue, mostly related to their appropriateness. One wife declared, “When you’re married to an SSA guy, he tends to be your girlfriend and your husband, and so you isolate yourself from your real girl friends.” Again, this kind of statement speaks to the lack of any kind of change or maturation process offered in the presentation. In another statement made by one of the men, he announces, “I was certainly born with homosexual attractions.” I don’t even know where to start with that comment. How can he say such a thing with the lack of scientific evidence there is for such a link!
Some other faults the program didn’t address that were outstanding to me include: 1) Flagrant flirting with a waiter on the part of one of the men in the restaurant in front of his wife and one of the other couples (although the wife did joke, asking who the husband was going home with); 2) The use of a four-point system which rates the attractiveness of guys based on the number of looks one takes at the subject of his lust, rather than any mention of restraining himself not to go back for continued looks, which again goes to the lack of Biblical content; 3) The overwhelming majority of relationships presented in the show, aside from the wives, were with other SSA guys, almost to the exclusion of any ever-straights (only one guy mentioned who is not SSA). For decades we’ve known that other kinds of relationships with both men and women are essential to our full reclamation process. 4) There seemed to me to be a continued thread of narcissism in that it was solely focused on what they did, their decisions, their belief, rather than on work/change that God was doing in them. And they seemed to be content to leave it that way, as if the decision to be in a heterosexual marriage was the end goal. 5) The men’s identity was in their SSA and heterosexual marriages, not in Christ, which for LDS is not necessarily uncharacteristic, just noteworthy.
In my opinion, “My Husband’s Not Gay” is a groundbreaking program in today’s culture. It really did a wonderful job of presenting an other-than-gay life option for the one who has SSA. Whether approaching leaving the gay life from a Christian or secular view, it served to present options into the mainstream that have not been so visible to date. We can absolutely expect the gay community to denounce the program, but for what it was, I am glad to have seen it and will continue to recommend it when the opportunity presents itself.