30 Days was hour long disappointment

How sad and devastating that a program about change and awareness completely missed the mark. Actually, I won’t put it all on the program, but I do think it was really unfortunate that the woman selected to participate was so unyielding and rigid in her beliefs.

A quick recap for those that either didn’t watch or don’t have access to this show: Kati, a stay at home Mother of two adopted sons, is asked to live with gay couple, Tom & Dennis and their four adopted sons. The caveat being that Kati strongly believes that neither lesbians nor gays should be allowed to have children. She is given 30 days to live in an unfamiliar environment and through exposure and conversation hopefully gain some perspective that will expand her way of thought.

Except it didn’t happen.

I just finished watching the show and right now I am filled with so much sorrow for such a missed opportunity. I don’t even understand why this woman agreed to be on this show and fear that she might have signed up for all of the wrong reasons.

The root of every single grimace and “moral issue” seemed to be Kati’s upbringing in a specific church that preached definitive ideas about what a marriage is and who is entitled to parent. Kati often cited her faith in God as her reason for not approving of same sex parenting. Even when touring inner city Detroit with a young man that aged out of the foster system in a group home Kati’s solution was that more “Mom/Dad families” need to be recruited.

So many friends of Dennis & Tom welcomed and embraced Kati and went above and beyond to make her comfortable. But when the topic at hand was brought up Kati immediately became defensive and frequently  walked away from a conversation in progress. This is a show about same sex parenting, expect to talk about it, but virtually every time the subject was broached Kati seemed shocked or said she felt ganged up on.

The show just made me feel disappointed and sad. Often outraged. I feel like it was an opportunity squandered.

So let’s discuss. If a friend/co-worker/neighbor/family member voiced an opinion opposing same sex parenting (either by adoption or conception) what would you say to them? Do you feel like people can change their minds? Would you risk a friendship to express an opposing view? Have you been able to change a person’s point of view? How?


33 thoughts on “30 Days was hour long disappointment

  1. That sucks. I too would have hoped the person agreeing to the situation would have been more open minded. That said my initial thought was that often those who are against gay and lesbian parents believe so in the name of God and are often self righteous enough that they are unable and unwilling to see any other point of view other than what they see as Gods.
    The only time I’ve been in a situation to stand up to someone was about gay marriage. I worked for them and had kept my mouth shut for quite a while in an effort to be a professional but one night the mother of the person I cared for was ranting on about how she felt that gay/lesbians were purposely setting out to destroy the sanctity of marriage and somehow asked what I thought. I stated that I felt it more likely that they loved each other and wanted to have the ability to have the same benefits as others. She didn’t really say much and I quit the job like a week later. I was so freaking happy to get away from such bigots.

  2. I was really disappointed in it. I’ve had conversations about same-sex parenting with people who didn’t agree. They usually end up in the person admitting that specific people can be good parents, but not necessarily wanting to grant the right to the LGBT community as a whole. :-/ Better than nothing, at least?

    I wish– the show could have been SO much. I don’t even know how it could have been changed, but I wish it had.

  3. just saw the show myself and felt the same disappointment. people can change their minds but I guess I no longer make an effort to change them through discussion and debate. being a person of color I have always had to deal with being placed in the role of educator. or I had to be aware that what people see will be used to make generalizations on all Latinos. So now I may be active in the political process and when there is a chance to dialogue I will speak but I don’t have the expectation that I can change minds. All I can do is keep my side of the street clean.

  4. I have actually had this conversation. I don’t know if I changed any opinions, but I cannot help but say — any jackass can have a baby, whether they put thought and planning into it or not. For a gay couple that can never biologically have a child on their own, they MUST want it so badly to go through the process of applying, getting through the stigma of being a gay couple trying to adopt, the discrimination they must experience. There are so many loving, stable gay couples out there that can provide a wonderful home to adopted children. So frustrating

  5. I felt the same frustration, annoyance, and anger towards Kati. I found it very interesting that she always managed to avoid answering when people asked if she thought it was preferable for children to stay in the system vs. being placed with a gay or lesbian couple. Whenever her opinions were even slightly challenged, she couldn’t handle the pressure of even considering that maybe they might have a solid point. There were so many finer points and implications of her statements that I don’t even know where to begin with them. It was upsetting that she walked away with absolutely no change or shift in her views.

  6. I would definitely be willing to sacrifice a friendship over absolute ignorance. I hate how the ones that seem to be the most religious are the first to throw stones. Hatred hiding behind religion is still hatred, period. As you can tell this is an issue very close to my heart. My very best friend is gay, and it infuriated me to no end to think of someone judging her based on who she shares her bed with.

  7. I wrote you in email but here is the thing. Like you said she went into this not to explore her beliefs, she went into it to “stand up for her beliefs” which is just wrong from the start. She went in defensive.

    I am much more upset at the Family Research Council outright lying and nothing being said to counter it. Also the woman after him with the messed up father, he was a perv in any sexuality why have her on. Why have someone who was so obviously an extreme case of abuse??

    The whole show was her against the queers, she went to every single thing with that attitude. I mean she keeps saying “the army of people” in reference to GLBT people, like some thing to be fought in a war, that is how she sees it.

    She is seeing she is wrong, she is seeing it over and over and doing the squeezing her eyes shut, screaming and saying la la la so she won’t have to hear it because of her brainwashing her whole life.

  8. Oh and her comment on being sad we can’t be friends. She wants to take their human rights away but still call them friends??????????????

  9. Oh, my. Where to begin? I think I would try to talk to someone about gay parenting by telling them about my friends, the families I know, the children I know, letting them see that love makes a family. I haven’t seen the TV show Calliope is talking about, but I’m guessing that’s what the participants tried to do. Didn’t work, huh?

    More specifically, I would try to tell someone who was opposed to same-sex headed families the following things…

    One of the two-mother families I know has this sign on their refrigerator door with “Mother Messages” and “Father Messages.” It was given to them by Mom #1’s very conservative parents, who were trying to be “helpful.” They stuck it on the fridge as a tongue-in-cheek joke, because in practice it’s HILARIOUS. The Father Messages include things like “I will always protect you.” That’s a very stereotypical caveman idea, the dad as protector and guardian, right? Um, Mama Bear Instinct, anyone? You think kids with two moms won’t have a protective parent? Whuh?

    Then I would show people this video, which I shot for work, of a different two-mother family

    Cut and paste:

    (So… now you all know where I work AND my real name! I hope that you are nice!) Still, these two women- who were part of a project we did about gay parenting at the newspaper I shoot for- sum up the experience pretty well: how they met, how they conceived, how they answer their son’s questions about why he doesn’t have a daddy, how they divide household/childcare labor. All in a minute and 49 seconds!

    Finally, I just wrote three long entries on my own blog about marriage equality, gay couples and love. I am getting married in August (to a man; straight but not narrow here 🙂 and almost didn’t buy my wedding dress from the store where I put down my deposit because of a very homophobic remark the owner made. You can read the whole saga, as well as how my fiancee changed his mind about PDA for gay couples, here:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

    The Cliff Notes version is that I looked the Homophobic Wedding Dress Store Owner in the eye and quoted Margaret Cho. “I can’t think of too many problems resulting from too much love in this world. It’s your hate you have to watch out for.”

    Oh, and Calli, since I’m delurking- BIG TIME- I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I’ve been lurking for a few months now. I admire you so much for the way you care for your grandmother and write with candor and tenderness about your life with her . You are strength incarnate. I’ll be here for the long haul, for however long it takes you to meet your children, reading and pulling for you 100 percent. 🙂

  10. Here from Kymberli’s and L&F: thanks for bringing attention to this show. I didn’t watch it, glad a few of you did and commented. I’ve also been blindsided with these comments and don’t really know how to respond which is astonishing considering I’ve been to two same sex weddings and helped one of my friends after she brought home her baby. I guess I’m getting cynical in old age, but I don’t think you CAN change these people’s minds. I try to simply point out how stupid and unchristian their actions really are: with all the problems in the world — war, poverty, crime, Zimbabwe, homelessness, lack of health care — wouldn’t their energies be better directed toward people who really are in trouble and are outright asking for help? I don’t get the hate toward people who are simply exhibiting love. Can we get angry about people who kill? Or suffer needlessly? Because clearly that’s not going on here. Sadly, I think our best attack is simply to drown these people out.

  11. I usually express my opinions about gay rights when it comes up – my sister is a lesbian so I really would not just sit there and let someone include me in commiseration about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket because of gay marriage, adoption, etc. On the other hand, I don’t lose my temper anymore or get very nervous about chiming in. It doesn’t get under my skin the way it used to, because I know these people are wrong, period. My friend’s husband had views I disagreed with when we met, and I simply dished it out in response to his dishing it out, and we kind of laughed at one another through the weirdness. Years later, either his views have changed, or he decided to shut the f up about it around me. And I do think there’s at least a tiny bit of progress in shutting the f up.

    I used to think that you have to surround yourself by like-minded people (I’m now talking about all issues, not just gay issues), but I soon discovered that in NYC that would many times mean staying away from people of cultures/backgrounds/ages other than my own (not to say that that everyone in my culture/background/age is so enlightened…). If we are only friends with people like ourselves, how are we going to influence or feel compassion for one another? I guess therein lies the disappointment of this show you’re talking about (which I didn’t see). You’d hope that these people, who have a lot in common because of their sons, would be able to come together in 30 days just by sheer osmosis if nothing else.

    But in a way, it might be a better lesson for the viewer to see that 30 days can’t erase a lifetime of (what I would call) church-based brainwashing. (And I say that as one who enjoys church/religion.) Man, do these feelings/views go deep, and it doesn’t have a Hollywood ending most of the time. There is a lot of work to do, and it may not all happen through touchy-feely lovey-doviness. It may require saying what you think when it’s uncomfortable, and hopefully being able to hang out in a friendship/acquaintanceship under those conditions for more than 30 days!

  12. ps- I didn’t mean that if someone is hateful to you, be friends with them anyway, just to make that clear. And I’m a white straight woman, so I am in a privileged and safer position when it comes to dealing with ignorant people.

  13. I was sad last night after seeing the show (pretty much by accident as I was flipping the channels looking for Jon & Kate plus 8 – which I find oddly uplifting) – My preconception is that prejudice will melt with a little information & education & the idea that living in this loving & warm family for 30 days did NOTHING to open this woman’s mind was pretty sad & shocking. As for your questions – well I’ve been out & pretty butch since I was a young teenager so folks don’t generally make accidental homophobic comments around me. & do I think that maybe how I live my life makes some ripples & changes some peoples minds – I sure hope so. I do know that when San Francisco first allowed gay/lesbian weddings 4 years ago – many of the photos of lifelong commited couples & their families DID make many many people rethink their stance on marriage rights (& perhaps in Nov. we’ll find out if its made a difference)

  14. I agree–major disappointment. The show made me sad. And I kept watching all the way through thinking her “breakthrough” moment would be just around the next commercial break. Instead, it put her views on par with that of the family she was staying with and tried to be even without picking sides. Very disheartening.

  15. I thought it was sad she was so dead set on her beliefs. She couldn’t even TRY to see it through the eyes of someone else. I know there are many out there like this, I am just so thankful I don’t have to deal with them very often. Or at least if I do, they keep their opinions to themselves.

  16. I don’t watch the show, although I will Tivo it because it does sound interesting and all my faves are finished for the season. Yes, I would risk a friendship to express an opposing view. If our friendship isn’t strong enough to stand differnt view points do I really want that person as a friend?

  17. I always think that the sanctity of marriage argument is soooo telling… I mean, really. The white, straight, god fearing sanctity of marriage… indeed. The whole thing makes me sick. J-Lo, Brittney Spears, Jamie Lynn Spears – ah yes shining examples of the sanctity of marriage. Do these celebrities not do more harm to the values of marriage and the ideals upon which life long love is intended to be pledged? Just because 2 men may make that pledge, or 2 women, or a man and a woman; the fact that those vows are taken in love and sincerity should be the only thing that matters. The same with raising and loving children- what makes straight people so great at it? I have seen so many straight couples absolutely ruin their children (which isn’t to say that some gay parents wouldn’t as well) that’s the point… every single one of us – gay, straight, transexual and transgendered are only human. Human and designed to love and give love in all of it’s forms. Those who would choose to deny a child the sincere love of any human being based upon who they do or do not share bed with, should be put in jail for neglect and hate crimes against children.

  18. I’ll keep my answer short.

    As a gay mother, I would most definitely step forward and say something. Not to be rude or confrontational, but informative. I would cite the “normal” in being a gay parent – Melissa Etheridge, man even Rosie is a good mom!

    But, that’s not to say that I feel my small argument could make an impact on someone so narrow minded. I don’t feel that I’d be risking a friendship, because I don’t pride myself on having friends like that.

  19. the show totally depressed me, too.

    Sadly, for most of America, this thought rings true.

    I have found that 30 days just ain’t enough. TIME is the ONLY thing that can help some people shift ways of thinking.

    Homophobia is HARD. And people “start” acceptance by saying things like: “Why, one of my best friends is gay!”

    Racism and classism exist, and by simply showing MORE people being OUT, ie: honestly, MORE celebrities coming out, to make people think: “Wow! I just love Queen Latifa – she’s so funny, and smart. Wait, you mean she’s a lesbian? Woah. I didn’t know that. Hmmmm.”

    So we try to be out everywhere. It’s hard, but we just try to be the best people we can be, and present as much of a “normal self” as possible.

    Even my beloved Grandmother, z”l, simply wanted to know “if Narda loved me, and if I loved her.” And if I was happy. And I am. And that was enough for her.

  20. I haven’t seen this show, but I did just read an article about this episode. In general, I try to avoid reality-type programming because of a horrible experience I had several years ago catching an episode of “Wife Swap” that sounds very similar to this episode of “30 Days.” In the “Wife Swap” episode (the first and definitely the last time I ever saw the show), a blowhard fundamentalist Protestant woman got “swapped” into a lesbian couple and proceeded to spew ignorant hatred and bile all over the nice lesbian family under the guise of moral “righteousness.” What was even worse than the callous, awful, just plain rude insensitivity shown by the religious woman, though, was the obvious fact that the producers of the show had deliberately set up a situation that would be as uncomfortable as possible for everyone just because of the perception that it would make more exciting, “better” television, which I think is sadly normal in “reality” tv. Columnist Dan Savage has some astute things to say about the “30 Days” program here: http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/06/tonights_30_days, and he also provides some contact names and emails for the network, if anyone is interested in registering a protest.

  21. I would also say that a die-hard believer from any community (even one filled with crazy bigots) is unlikely to admit to changes in thinking in a situation like this (in which she goes into a different situation for a finite amount of time), because at the end of it, she will always have to return to live permanently among–and answer to–her own community. This is the same reason that the state of Texas never had a chance with the Fundamentalist Mormon mothers.

  22. I’m watching it again tonight because as I was taking notes, I was missing parts. But here is the interesting thing–I actually thought the show was great. Hear me out. I kept waiting and waiting for the neat wrap up where her eyes opened. It was 10:47 and I’m staring at the clock thinking, “you guys only have 13 minutes and I’m not seeing the change yet.” We are so conditioned to always see that television ending.

    And Kati’s ending was unfortunately a very real ending. And I was completely amazed by her inability to change. I truly wanted to study her–follow her around–figure out how she is existing on this planet. Because there was so much evidence shown to the contrary–fathers who were doing an AMAZING job raising their kids (and I shout that because so many people suck at actually parenting and here was this family who was so cohesive and great), kids who told her how happy parents breed happy kids, children who explained how love works to her–AND SHE STILL WOULDN’T CHANGE. It was truly incredible. I don’t really understand how she functions in life. She was so amazingly insensitive and closed-minded.

    But that is often what you run up against and I think the final scene, where the men (I apologize, I can’t remember their names right now) explain why they can’t be friends–that was for me the most important part of the episode. Understanding that lesson in life–why someone may not want you in their life. And that was what I took away. When you pick and choose what you’re going to like about a person rather than the whole of the person, you lose out on so much. And I would show that episode to kids to show them what small-mindedness gains you.

  23. Haven’t watched it yet, have it on the DVR, but I do tend to think there are people so rigid in their beliefs that you can’t change them. I mean seriously how many can change our minds to believe homosexuality is wrong or that marriage is only between a man and a woman? It’s sad, but it is what it is.

  24. I did, though, question the format of the show (it was my first time seeing it)–especially after seeing the preview for the next episode. It seems to be treading in very emotional waters without any type of safety net–someone guiding the experience. I felt absolutely horrible for the two men–especially because they opened their home to her. The scene where he was holding his son and cried–it broke my heart. And I wonder what they have behind the scenes in terms of counseling. Because seriously, they are bigger people than I am to allow Kati to stay in their house for the full 30 days.

  25. Yes, I agree. It was very disappointing. I especially felt for Dennis and Tom. Major props to them. One of the things that really got me was how she kept saying how her views were not meant to be personal. Hello? How can the freedom to love and parent not be the most personal things humans can experience. She was totally ignorant, she made no sense and did not have one bit of intellectual thought in her brain. And the woman they interviewed as an example of growing up in a gay household, the woman obviously grew up with abuse. What an example. And the information from the FRC, where did his stats come from? A real disappointment indeed!

  26. I was disturbed watching last nights show, too. I am a SMC to be. I will be TTC with a known donor who I have been friends with for almost 30 years. He is gay and has been with his partner for over 14 years. We have already faced obstacles with the laws in our state re gay sperm donors and known donors. The ACLU would love this one, but we don’t have time for that, so we are lying. My friend is now (for clinic visits) my “boyfriend”.

    My feelings about the attitudes of the woman on the show (who, I’m sure, wouldn’t approve of SMC either) go further than the fact that my kid’s dad is gay. We will have an unusual arrangement (although, I think most known donor situations are unique). I will be the sole custodial parent and my friend will not be responsible for support, but we are creating a family. My friend (and his extended family) will be involved in our child’s life, but I will be responsible for all decisions. When we started talking about our arrangement, I did some thinking about how I would feel in his shoes, and the one thing that struck me was, what if something happened to me. So I told him that I felt he deserved an equal say regarding that. That we should be in agreement about custody of the child if something were to happen to me. I was relieved when he told me recently that he discussed this with his partner and that they would want custody under those circumstances. (My family’s nuts, they’re not getting custody!)

    If this works (we start in a couple of weeks), my child will have so much love in his/her life! Nothing “wrong” or “sinful” in that!

  27. I just got finished watching the 30 Days episode and I agree that it was very sad. I also thought that it was more realistic, although still disappointing, that Kati’s view didn’t change while she was staying with Tom and Dennis. For a bit, it seemed like her views might change when she started to say “I think I’m right,” instead of “I know I’m right.”

    I think she became upset so often when she was explaining her beliefs because she was experiencing cognitive dissonance. You can’t say, “I’m okay with you, but I think you’re morally repugnant” to someone’s face and not expect to feel weird about that unless you’re a sociopath. The fact that she got upset showed that she was processing this, even if the processing didn’t get very far in the 30 days.

    She’ll probably never truly understand what a hatemonger she is. It became clear when she was talking to the lesbian moms that she thinks homosexuality is a choice. Personally, I don’t understand this type of thinking; or rather, even if it were a choice, it’s okay by me. So it’s hard for me to see her point of view.

    I think Tom (?) got to the heart of the matter when he told Kati that it was one thing for her to have these feelings, but another to act upon them to work for legislation that would prevent gay and lesbian couples from adopting. That is just straight up legislated hate, and it was so frustrating how she couldn’t understand that.

  28. I was disappointed too. The thing that gets me? Having to admit to myself that there ARE people out there who can’t be “converted.”

    My partner and I live near a wonderfully liberal metropolis. Cost of living, however, puts us in a somewhat-conservative-but-really-more-white-trash-than-we-care-to-admit suburb. It also puts us closer to “the enemy,” a shadowy idea of a person we have yet to meet. Sadly, Kati puts a face to that person.

    Given our less-than-liberal surroundings, we sometimes overcompensate, trying to prove what stunning parents/neighbors/community members we are. Who brings two full plates of artfully arranged veggies to snack at school? We do. Who’s that working really hard to make our low budget yard look as nice as the landscaped one next door? My partner. Who plans to be the world’s most annoying helpful PTA mom? That would be me.

    What do we hope to achieve through this overcompensation? We want people to accept our family. We want Kiddo to have a positive school experience, hopefully free of teasing that might stem from having gay moms. We want our gayness to be a non-issue, even if that means we’ll get lumped in with all the other boring suburbanites.

    But then there are people like Kati. Who don’t care how well we raise our kids or keep our lawns. Who believe at their core that our gayness trumps anything else. Who want to limit our rights to adopt and/or co-parent our children.

    Watching the show, I did feel compassion for Kati. She worried that she wouldn’t be able to hold on to her convictions when surrounded by people who think differently. She felt isolated and attacked. It clearly caused her turmoil, meeting admirable people who didn’t fit her preconceived notions.

    I was sad about how the show ended. I hoped that she would have seen the light, if you will. But she didn’t.

    I was reminded of an Amy Ray lyric, “Tolerance it ain’t acceptance. I know you want it to be, when you’re out of Laramie.”

  29. Rats. I went and commented on the original post mentioning the show. If you all don’t mind, I’m going to cut and paste my comment here. Reading through this post and comments, it seems like a lot of people reacted to the show similarly to me:

    I watched it, and thought it was terribly sad. How difficult it must be to go through life determined to keep your mind and heart closed to anything that goes against what you “know” is right. Throughout the hour, you could see Kati struggling to reconcile her beliefs with what she was seeing in front of her. Time and again, she chose to retreat into her cozy little beliefs rather than face a new truth.

    The only part that really made me mad was her absolute refusal to understand why her beliefs and actions are offensive to others. One of the dads did, I thought, a good job of explaining why he has no problem with her thoughts, but a big problem when those thoughts became actions that threatened his family, but she simply refused to understand. Normally, I’d give someone a lot of credit for at least trying to live outside of his/her comfort zone, but here it seemed that Kati went on this show only to prove that she couldn’t be moved, even by compelling evidence and arguments. Why did she even bother?

  30. What bothered me most about the show was not what happened with Kati, but what happened with the production of the show. How could they have an anti gay bigot spout WRONG facts about same sex parents and not counter it with….I dunno, a social scientist or other researcher. How far did they look for the woman with the abusive gay dad? The part that really bugged me was the visit to the sperm bank. Morgan Spurlock makes some masturbation jokes (how clever!) and talks about how sci-fi everything is. He also refers to the sperm as “baby daddies.” It just seemed disrespecful and unnecessarily sensationalist.

  31. Sadly issues like this, politics and religion all seem to have in common that people very rarely change their minds.

    It often feels like bashing the proverbial cranium against a brick wall conversing with someone who is philisophically opposed to same-sex parenting.

    I don’t know what it takes to change minds….


  32. Ugh. As I sat watching the show all I could think to myself was “Kati, you can just go f*ck yourself.” Not exactly raising the conversational bar, but I’m so tired of idiots expounding on how evil BGLT individuals (and their families) are. I am always amazed at the degree to which people care about the personal love lives and familial relations of other people. I cannot think of any other thing that has so little to do with public opinion and yet is so squarely in the public debate. I have not lost friends over this issue because the minute I hear anything remotely homophobic, my eyes glaze over and I disconnect from the conversation and any potential for friendship. My partner is now male, but I carry the wounds of bigoted comments from my times with female partners. I think because people assume I am heterosexual (I am married with child, after all) they can let go with horrific statements since I’m not like “those people.” But I am those people. Makes my blood boil.

    And hi. I’m delurking. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now. I suppose this was the thorn that finally stuck me in the ass and prompted me to say hello. So… hello!

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