This Friday on Fox's reality show Trading Spouses, in the second of a two-parter that began last Friday, lesbian couple Pepper and Judy Lane face down homophobic Julie Chase and her bizarrely outmoded opinions about gay people. In last week's episode, Julie refused to use the restroom in a gay restaurant, likened being gay to a birth defect and made offensive comments about the disabled — and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what bile Julie will spew on tonight's concluding episode?
If this all sounds a bit too familiar for you, it may be because you remember when ABC's Wife Swap switched out a conservative Christian mom for a lesbian one — also during a sweeps period. But Julie makes Wife Swap's Kris Gillespie, who called lesbians “depraved,” seem like an angel in comparison.
Judy and Pepper Lane, the San Diego couple on Trading Spouses, have reacted to Julie's hatred with admirable calm and have been a beacon of strong, positive gay representation, sidestepping the blatantly offensive Julie and her generally dysfunctional family. Committed, nurturing and thoroughly family-oriented, Judy and Pepper have won a small victory for all LGBT parents this week: respect. We talked with them yesterday about the support they have received from straight and gay people alike in the wake of last week's episode, and whether Julie really was that cruel.
AfterEllen.com: First of all, what attracted you to the show, and how did you go about getting on it?
AE: Did you have any hesitation about going on network TV and being so visible?
AE: Have you been pleased with the way the show presents you so far?
JL: The best thing about this is all the positive feedback we've gotten — I'm overwhelmed. Our phone rings day and night; our email is bombarded; we have fan letters, people coming to our house from all walks of life. The Mormon families of our neighborhood in particular came over to our house and said, “We just think you're a beautiful family, and we're proud to have you as neighbors.” Our heads are spinning!
PL: It's amazing. I'll go to the grocery store, and someone will come up to me and say, “I would've kicked her 'blank'!” They say such nice things, almost as if they're feeling they have to apologize for the way we were treated, feeling as if they wanted to say, “Not all straight people are like that.” It's been very overwhelming and very humbling.