A Lesbian Wife Swap
By Dickson Wong
ABC's Wife Swap has always had an edge. The reality show, on which the wives in two families are switched for a couple of weeks, has exposed the differences and prejudices between races, where people live, and socio-economic backgrounds. On what may be its most controversial episode ever, Kristine Luffey, 33, and Nicki Boone, 30, are a lesbian couple raising 8-year-old Elizabeth, Nicki's daughter from a previous relationship, in Arizona. Kristine is to swap places with Kris Gillespie, a 42-year-old, anti-gay, African-American conservative Republican wife in an interracial marriage with three children in Texas. During the first week, the women must live by the rules of the house, but in the second week, they get to make all the calls. There is constant tension between the families, arguments arise, and accusations are made at the post-swap confrontation. We spoke to Kristine (who switched places with Kris) and Nicki to see how deeply the show (airing Wednesday, February 9) has affected them.
So Kristine, what were your expectations going into the show?
Kristine: My expectation was that it would be a great learning opportunity for our families, because we both love our children and want the best for them. I wanted to learn something positive from it by walking in another family's shoes, and I hoped that they would do the same thing and walk in gay parents' shoes and learn from the experience and get something positive from it.
What was your first impression of the Gillespie family?
Kristine: My first impression was that they were very nice and kind and a very loving family to each other. They just seemed like normal suburban people.
Who do you think in the Gillespie family was most bothered by your sexual orientation?
Kristine: I would say Kris Gillespie was most bothered by it, followed by Brian Gillespie, her husband. Kris was very insulted that she was placed into our family and it was obvious from day one. She said, 'I signed up for wife swap, not two women, shacking up, raising-a-child swap.'
And what was one of your greatest concerns during your first week with the Gillespie family?
Kristine: My biggest concern was that they weren't going to see me for who I was and they were going to be stuck on the fact that I'm gay and weren't going to open their minds to see anything else. It seemed like it was really hard for the kids to see outside the box without approval from their parents, and so I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get through to them to make them see that there's more to me than just being a lesbian.
Nicki, emotions were running high constantly between you and Kris Gillespie throughout the show. What would you say was the one thing that was most difficult about her?
Nicki: Mostly it was her unwillingness to learn from the experience. I guess I was just hoping for somebody who was willing to hear a different perspective, but she wasn't willing to do even just that.
What was toughest for you when Kris Gillespie began laying down her rules during the second week?
Nicki: I always thought the lawn was nice. I just didn't like being told to do it. And there was a rule where she made you say three positive things about the president every night. But that didn't make it on air.