Ever since Channel Nine announced that a same-sex couple would be walking down the aisle on the upcoming season of Married at First Sight, the network and the contestants have – perhaps unsurprisingly – been blasted by backlash.
But the biggest blows aren’t coming from the corner you might expect; they’re coming from within the LGBTQI community itself, many of whom are outraged that the couple would go on a ‘reality’ to show to experience something that is actually anything but for same-sex couples.
This week on the Binge, Mamamia’s TV podcast, we ask ‘Is having a gay couple on MAFS a Good Thing?’
Now one half of that couple has hit back at the critics, telling The Today Show that it seems “you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.
“There’s been a lot of backlash from Series One and Two for not having a same sex couple, and now that there is one in Series Three nobody’s happy about that as well,” he said.
Unlike the heterosexual couples, Andy and his new partner actually had the option to have a genuine wedding, as their nuptials were staged in New Zealand. Not only is same-sex marriage legal there, but applications for marriage licenses only need to be filed three days in advance, rather than the 30 required here.
He decided against it.
“For me, the marriage bit wasn’t important,” said Andy. “But it is really an experiment to pull two people together. And I’m lucky to have been chosen to go through the experience, to have three or four experts in Australia match me to the guy that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.”
But as pure as Andy’s intentions might be and as happy as things appear to have turned out for him, the critics see his ‘wedding’ as part of a much bigger issue.
“Thank you for reducing same sex marriage to a cheap gimmick for ratings,” wrote one commenter on the programme’s Facebook page. “Years and years of fighting for this, and you’ve effectively cheapened the entire marriage equality movement. Thank you, Channel 9. Really. Thank you.”
“What an absolute joke. This county (sic) won’t give everyone the same rights but it’s ok to exploit the feelings of a same sex couple for ratings? It’s beyond cruel to tease a couple with a taste of something that at this stage won’t ever be within their reach,” wrote another Facebook user.
Another man who had been in a same sex relationship for nine years wrote, “This ‘reality’ show sends a message to Australia that gay people are OK at playing marriage, and we’re content with pretending. Take it from me, we are 100% not OK with this.”
Of course, there are as many celebrating the move as there are slamming it.
“Can’t wait!!” wrote one viewer on Facebook. “Finally some form of same sex relationship on TV! We need to get with the times and acknowledge this in our society! Small steps!”