By Holly Rasmussen
The TLC network has really outdone itself this time: the network’s documentary special, My Husband’s Not Gay, was one for the history books in terms of general awkwardness. While the network is no stranger to exploiting people’s religious beliefs (19 Kids and Counting or Sister Wives, anyone?) they’ve never quite gone this far. The documentary introduced us to four men who all have what they call “SSA (Same Sex Attraction)” but are all either married to women or seeking a woman to marry. They’re not gay. They’re not bisexual. But they are Mormon.
All four men live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and say that their religious beliefs as their reason for resisting their same sex attractions and pursuing a relationship with a woman.
“I like to say I’ve chosen an alternative to an alternative lifestyle,” Tom, one of the gay-but-not-gay men featured, tells us.
So, let’s meet the men! First, there’s Jeff. He’s married to Tanya and they have one toddler son. Tanya describes SSA (same sex attraction) as a man who is attracted to a man but chooses to pursue a relationship with a woman. Tanya said Jeff told her while they were dating that he experienced SSA and after much reflection, she decided to pursue a relationship with him. She said she knows “lots of other people who are in these types of relationships” and that they do not feel oppressed.
Next, we meet Pret and Megan. They have been married for eight years and have a toddler daughter. Megan said she has been in love with Pret since she was 15 but “it wasn’t always mutual.” Obviously. Megan jokes that when she first found out about Pret’s SSA, she thought, “At least he doesn’t have anyone to compare me to.” Well…there’s that.
Next we have Tera and Curtis. They have been married for 20 years, but Curtis just told Tera he had SSA about four years ago. Whoa there, Curt. You’d think the fact that you kind of want to bone other men would have surfaced at least once in those 20 years, no? Still, Tera says that Curtis loves her and that they could overcome that pesky “I’m kinda gay” thing Curtis has going on.
All of the couples apparently know each other and have a prayer group. Curtis said they have a tight knit SSA community.
(There is ample opportunity for inappropriate jokes after writing that sentence…but…we’re gonna let that slide…)
Pret tells us that if it were acceptable in the church to live a homosexual lifestyle, he may have done it 10 years ago, but currently he would not.
Just to show us how gay they aren’t, all of the men go to a park to play basketball and check each other out. This is where we meet Tom. Tom is experiencing SSA, but is looking for a wife. He is 34 years old and has never kissed anyone. (Perhaps he and one of the guys can sneak behind the park bathrooms and act on their SSA for a moment of sin? Hey, it would make for interesting TV at least!)
Tanya (Jeff’s wife) decides to set her friend up with Tom. She describes the friend as “quirky” so we know she’s going to a real winner. (Calling someone ‘quirky’ is basically code for “Hide your sharp objects before you let this person come over.”)
Next, all of the SSA wives randomly go on a hike. They go with Tanya’s sister-in-law, who knows about the SSA men and Tanya’s friend who doesn’t. Yeah, this isn’t at all set up to facilitate conversation or anything.
Megan tells the group that the men seem to prioritize “guy time.” Yeah, I’m sure they do. During the hike, the friend who doesn’t know about SSA (whose name is Harmony because… of course it is) awkwardly asks if the men are gay. Tanya is not happy about this. She “gets defensive” when people ask if her husband is gay. He is a man…who is attracted to other men…nope, nothing gay about that. How dare you, Harmony!
Megan makes a joke about it by saying that he chose her out of all of the women and all of the men in the world. So funny, Meg. It’s good that you can laugh about your life; after all, laughter helps cover up the sound of you sobbing into your pillow each night as Pret lies next to you flipping through the latest issue of Playgirl. Don’t worry, I’m sure he just reads it for the articles.
Tanya reveals that this is her second marriage and her sex life if better than ever. (Ew.)
Are Mormons down with divorce? So, divorce is okay but being gay isn’t? This is kind of confusing.
Jeff, Tanya, Pret and Megan all go to dinner together to discuss which men they all find attractive. UMMMM!? This is..odd. Jeff and Tanya seem like the oddest couple ever. They just seem like good friends. Jeff awkwardly flirts with the waiter. It’s all very creepy.
Next the guys take Tom shopping to pick out an outfit for his upcoming blind date with “Quirky.” In the store, they all start checking out another man and talking about his build. But, they’re not gay. It turns out the man they are checking out is a man that they knew years ago who was in the SSA community. Apparently this man left the community and embraced his homosexuality. Finally, someone broke out of this cult!
Jeff reveals he dated some men before he got married, but he felt something was missing.
Jeff and Tanya host a dinner party in hopes of setting Tom up with their friend. During the set up for the dinner party, Jeff tells Tanya he wants to go on an overnight camping trip with some other men. Of course he does. Tanya gets suspicious and brings up an “incident” from the past. Jeff says,”There was one time a couple of guys slept over at my house…and let’s just say, things got out of control.”
Is there footage of that? It would probably be more interesting than this special.
But remember, guys, Jeff is NOT gay. He just likes to have wild sleepovers with other men. What’s wrong with a couple of dudes snuggling and giggling together in their sleeping bags? Geez.
At the dinner party, we get to know Tom. He has a really dry sense of humor. It’s hard not to pull for him to embrace his feelings and run off with man. But, alas- his date, [Quirky] Emily, arrives. At dinner, they all do an awful job of making Emily feel comfortable.However, she’s likeable and has a dry sense of humor similar to Tom’s. It seems that they will actually get along great (in a non-romantic, made-for-TV sort of way. They can probably be shoe-shopping partners.)
At the end of dinner, Tom walks Emily out and lets her know he has SSA but wants to pursue a relationship with a woman. Emily takes it in stride. She is either open to it or doesn’t want to look bad on camera. She calls it brave. (Calling someone “brave” on a reality show is basically code word for “he who does stupid things on camera.”) She agrees to go out with him again. And, that’s the end. I hope TLC turns this train wreck into a series. I also hope Tom runs off with a man and becomes best friends with Emily, and then they get their own “Will & Grace”-esque spin-off show.
This special has caused a great deal of controversy, with many members of the LGBT community calling on TLC to avoid airing it, to prevent it from damaging young LGBT kids. Click here to read more about that!