Chip and Joanna Gaines are known for being the sweet and funny couple with four adorable kids making people’s dream homes come true on HGTV’s show, Fixer Upper. Or at least they were until Buzzfeed decided to drag their names through the mud with a baseless attack. The article claimed that the Gaineses might possibly be against same-sex marriage, with no evidence other than that the pastor of their church, Jimmy Seibert, is against it. That’s right: The Gaineses have never uttered one word against homosexuality or against same-sex marriage, but because someone they associate with is against same-sex marriage, that’s all the evidence Buzzfeed needed to write an article criticizing them.
The article endeavored to look at what it called “the severe, unmoving position Seibert and Antioch [Church] take on same-sex marriage.” The article goes on to talk about Seibert’s stance on same-sex marriage for more than 700 words without mentioning the Gaineses a single time. The article is a textbook example of hearsay, something you’re taught to avoid in journalism, but as a click-bait-driven website, perhaps Buzzfeed doesn’t feel the need to follow journalistic norms.
Given that marriages in our celebrity culture are often marked by divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, cheating spouses, and even physical abuse, are the Gaineses really the people we want to be holding up as a scandalous couple? They’re open about their strong, loving (and sometimes goofy) relationship, which is something that’s becoming harder and harder to find with couples whose lives are documented on television. They actually seem to like each other, and provide an all-too-rare example of a stable union in the world of reality television.
Chip Gaines recently addressed the Buzzfeed scandal and did so in a way that shows why he and his wife are beloved by their fans. In a blog post, he wrote,
Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand. If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow—we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way. In 2017: We have decided to change the conversation.
The Gaineses and HGTV do not discriminate against the LGBTQ community (as HGTV said in its own statement), and, as Chip said, they care about every single person, no matter their race or sexual orientation. Isn’t this sentiment something we should be celebrating rather than attacking? After a year of riots and ISIS attacks and Facebook fights over the election, shouldn’t we all try to be more like the Gaineses instead of writing distasteful and baseless articles about them just for spite (and web traffic)? We should learn to “lovingly disagree” instead of argue and hate; as Chip put it,
If your position only extends love to the people who agree with you, we want to respectfully challenge that position. We propose operating with a love so real and true that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside the very people that are most unlike you. Fear dissolves in close proximity. Our stereotypes and vain imaginations fall away when we labor side by side. This is how a house gets unified.
That’s good advice at the start of any year, but especially after the divisiveness that marked 2016.