couples

Despite the backlash, there's a beautiful side to Married at First Sight's same-sex wedding.

When it was announced that Married at First Sight would be including their first same-sex couple in season three, there was widespread outrage.

Surprisingly, this outrage didn’t come from those who rally against marriage equality; it came from people within the LGBTI community.

For many, featuring a gay couple in the reality show was tokenistic and exploitative; using the ‘novelty’ of gay marriage for ratings rather than to promote social justice.

In the leadup to the show, one person wrote on the Married at First Sight Facebook page, “This is disgusting.”

“While the LGBTI community is on the brink of fighting for the right to marry, Channel 9 is making a quick buck by making a mockery of something we don’t even have yet.”

This week on the Binge, Mamamia’s TV podcast, we ask ‘Is having a gay couple on Married At First Sight a good thing?’

“I’ve been in a relationship with my fiance for nine years. Nothing would make us and our loved ones happier than to walk down the aisle. Legally. With all the ramifications and responsibilities and commitment that comes with a marriage,” another commenter wrote.

“We don’t want to ‘play’ at getting married. Marriage isn’t a game, and it’s not a show. 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.”

These are some of the moments we have seen so far from Married at First Sight. Images via Instagram. Post continues after gallery…

The idea of a same-sex couple getting ‘fake’ married on television when they’re not legally able to in real life made people understandably uncomfortable.

And rightly so.

It’s almost like a slap in the face to those who desperately want marriage equality not only so they can have a flash wedding, but so they can be granted the legal benefits of marriage – like their heterosexual counterparts.

Reading the comments shared in the lead up to the show made me apprehensive. This was going to be a television moment that stirred deep emotions for a lot of people. It would make people angry, and hurt, and frustrated.

But upon watching last night’s show, when we finally met Andy and Craig, a very different sentiment emerged.

married at first sight andy and craig
Too-tidy Andy with not-tidy-enough Craig. Image via Channel 9.
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It was clear that Andy and Craig joined the show for the same reasons any of the other couples did - to fall in love. Making a statement about marriage equality was secondary to their desire to meet someone to spend the rest of their lives with.

Speaking to Today earlier this week, Andy said of the controversy, "There’s been backlash from series one and two because they didn’t have a same-sex couple and now that there is one in series three, no one’s happy about that as well."

"I think you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t."

In last night's episode, both Andy and Craig were full of excitement to meet each other.

They told their friends, they spoke openly and candidly about how isolating the process of 'coming out' can be, and were honest about their desire to settle down with a partner.

Image via Channel 9.
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And it seems the experts were acutely aware of the power of this moment.

Mel Schilling told The Huffington Post that while "in the current political climate it's something that people are going to have very powerful views about," the show allows us to "look at this through the lens of love as opposed to through politics."

Interestingly, the show flew Andy and Craig to New Zealand, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Apparently, Australians make up 26% of same-sex marriages in New Zealand. It was a clever move by the show - choosing to hold their ceremony in a place where, legally, a union like theirs could be acknowledged.

Yes, it's reality television, and yes, the majority of viewers are aware that it's highly produced and highly edited. But there was something powerful about watching two men, each looking for love, open up about what it feels like to be gay and unable to marry.

Andy's unexpectedly heartfelt message about marriage equality. Image via Channel 9.

"People don’t choose to be gay, it’s how you’re born," says Andy.

"How dare a religion or a government tell me that the purest of emotions, which is love, is wrong?"

It's not perfect - and having a same-sex couple get 'fake' married on television is inherently problematic.

But for these men, it was about love. For the experts, it was about love. And for me, watching, I was reminded that that's all this whole debate is about: love.

Featured image: Channel 9 still.

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