ABC’s human behavior pornography What Would You Do? already showed us how some folks would react (or not react) as they walked by a group of teenagers bullying a kid for being gay. But how would they react if they saw a parent taunting a kid for being a “faggot”?
Well, we’re going to New Jersey on Friday night, folks! Would anyone stick up for the kid?
We hired actors to play parent and son and rigged Rockn’ Joe Café in Westfield, N.J., with our hidden cameras to find out. As our dad and his son enter the restaurant, they chat about ordering lunch but suddenly their conversation turns intensely personal. “Dad, I need to tell you something. I’m gay,” the teen stammers out. No sooner does he get the words out than his dad responds, “You’re not gay. Forget about it!”
Suddenly, two men sitting next to our actors are all ears as the conversation heats up. “There are solutions to this! Long-term therapy! No son of mine is going to be gay!” As our father continues his tirade, the man nearby is clearly upset. He shakes his head, drums his fingers on the table and his eyes dart back and forth, but will he break his silence? One of our actors, playing a waiter at the cafe, comes over to find out.
“What just happened?” asks our actor. “I don’t really want to get into it. It’s not our business,” the man responds. After 10 minutes went by he didn’t say a word, so we decided to find out what he was thinking. “The responses that the father was giving really, really upset me,” he said. “He wasn’t understanding anything his son was saying and, you know, he kept telling him he can change it, to go to therapy, this and that.” As to why this patron didn’t get involved: “I don’t know. They were kind of in the middle of it I guess,” he said.
It is a response we see repeated throughout the day — worried looks and stares but little intervention. In another scene, two women catch up over coffee when hear the painful conversation. It doesn’t take one of them long to get up and bolt from the cafe. When we catch up with her outside, she tells us, “I left my girlfriend. I said, ‘You pay the bill, I’m getting out.’”
This is you, America.