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New TLC special brings controversy

By Amy Hastings
On February 3, 2015

The Learning Channel’s new one-hour special “My Husband’s Not Gay” aired January 11, 2015. The program follows Mormon men who are attracted to the same sex, but have denied the term gay. Many of these men are married to women and have families.

After the first preview of the show aired on TLC, Josh Sanders, a gay Christian man, started a petition on Change.org in order to get the show cancelled.

In his petition, Sanders said TV viewers need to know the horrific consequences of trying to change who you are. “Instead, TLC is presenting victim’s lives as entertainment, while sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed,” he said.

GLADD, a media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people, holds a similar sentiment to Sanders.

GLAAD’s CEO, Kate Ellis said in a statement about the program that we cannot change who we 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,” Ellis said.

In a statement defending the special, the network said they have long shared compelling stories about real people and different ways of life, without judgment. “The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves,” TLC said.

Other very popular TLC shows are based around alternative lifestyles. From “Sister Wives”, a show that follows a polygamist family, to “Little People, Big World”, a show based on a family of dwarfs, TLC’s programming is crafted to capture the attention of their audience.

Emma Green, writer for The Atlantic, explained what TLC does. “TLC finds people living atypical lives -usually ones in tension with ‘progressive’ cultural norms- and turns them into spectacle,” she said.

By the time “My Husband’s Not Gay” aired, Sander’s petition had gathered over 100,000 signatures. TLC has no plans on showing the special again anytime soon, based on the schedule provided on TLC.com. 

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