OPINION: TLC ‘the learning channel’ is not teaching anyone

Illustration by Taylor Shanklin

In this day and age, reality TV needs to keep pushing boundaries to keep the attention of its drama-seeking audiences. That being said, many TV viewers are unhappy about the new TLC show “My Husband’s Not Gay,” that premiered Sunday, Jan. 11. In fact, over 129,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling upon the network to cancel the show.

TLC’s website said the show will follow “four men living in Salt Lake City, Utah, who don’t identify themselves as homosexual despite having an attraction to men.” The men, who insist they are not gay, refer to their feelings as same-sex attraction.

Same-sex attraction has been used as a copout of sorts for those who are attracted to the same sex, and practice a religion that shames and ousts those who are homosexual. What better way to hide your sexuality than denying it exists altogether?

The show shines a light on these four gay men who, under the intense pressure of their religion and other factors, refuse to acknowledge their sexuality. TLC has a habit of taking families and situations that aren’t necessarily the norm and putting them under the media’s intense microscope. It is famous for showcasing polygamous marriages and relationships, families with an unsafe and ungodly amount of children (in my opinion), as well as people struggling with their strict faith.

Realizing that a world exists outside the Little Apple is not the issue. Audiences can hopefully empathize with some of the content put on by the network that they would not be exposed to anywhere else. The issue is that a show whose popularity is solely based upon the insecurities of the LGBT community is one that should swiftly be taken off the air.

“My Husband’s Not Gay” encourages those with same-sex attractions to simply put their feelings aside, date the opposite sex and move on with their life.

According to the Center for Disease Control, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are “more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.” What kind of message does this TLC show send to LGBT youth who are struggling with their sexuality, whether it be internal or fearing the response of those around them? “My Husband’s Not Gay” encourages those with same-sex attractions to simply put their feelings aside, date the opposite sex and move on with their life (maybe even get a TV series for it).

Regardless of the outrage and hurt that many people may be feeling with the premiere of the show, this extreme insensitivity will continue to engage audiences. Those ignorant enough to be curious of someone who can be attracted to their own sex but be married to the other will watch “My Husband’s Not Gay.” Additionally, those rightfully upset with the program will watch as well, likewise to being unable to take their eyes away from a car crash. You know it is wrong, but you can not look away.

According to CNN, there are now more than 30 states that allow same-sex couples to get married. Same-sex couples are also entitled to federal benefits, once only allotted to heterosexual couples, in those states that allow same-sex marriage. The country is taking steps in the right direction, for once, on laws regarding same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, it seems as though with every step forward, TLC’s new show is ensuring we take a few steps back.

Kelly Iverson is a senior in mass communications.