BY LINDSAY WHITEHURST
SALT LAKE CITY — Preston “Pret” Dahlgren has led what might seem like a picture-perfect Mormon life: He met his high school sweetheart in Sunday school as a teenager, completed his mission and married her. He is active in the church and the proud father of two young daughters.
Dahlgren also is attracted to men.
His story is the subject of a new TV show called “My Husband’s Not Gay,” which gay-rights advocacy groups are calling irresponsible and dangerous. They want the TLC cable network to pull the plug on the program before it airs Sunday.
Dahlgren said he’s known he was attracted to men since he was about 12 years old, but he also always wanted the kind of family he grew up in: a father, mother and children.
“There are a lot of stories out there, and this just isn’t one of them,” said Dahlgren, 32.
The gay rights group GLAAD, however, says the show sends the wrong message and is a reminder of so-called gay conversion therapy, often faith-based efforts designed to change sexual orientation that can be emotionally scarring. New Jersey and California in 2013 banned therapists from practicing gay conversion therapy on children and teenagers. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association do not support the therapy.
“No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”
The organization pointed to a change.org petition asking TLC to cancel the show that so far has gathered more than 80,000 signatures. Responding to GLAAD, the network says it will tell compelling stories about different ways of life, and Dahlgren and the other men on the hourlong show speak only for themselves.
Megan Dahlgren says her marriage remains strong, including the physical aspects of their relationship. “We do have a happy, healthy sex life,” she said.
Dahlgren said his upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a big part of why he wanted to remain in a husband-and-wife relationship.
“I would say it was part of my decision early on, especially, and a big influencer of that,” Dahlgren said. “It certainly helped guide me toward where I’m at today, no doubt about it.”