Trolls upset gay couple on TV building show

'I'm not defined by my sexuality'

SIMON DAY
Last updated 06:08 14/07/2013
Mitre 10 Dream Home
TVNZ
CONTESTANT: Amanda Fail, 31 and Jay Blair, 29, were selected to be one of two Christchurch families competing for the chance to build a new house.

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The lesbian couple competing in the Mitre 10 Dream Home reality TV show have hit back at vicious online attacks about their sexuality.

The choice of Jay Blair, 29, and Amanda Fail, 31, to be one of two Christchurch families competing for the chance to build a new house was labelled a ratings stunt.

They didn't finish the model of their dream home in pre-selection, yet won a spot. That decision last month unleashed a social media backlash.

"Rules were if you don't complete your model you are goneski, so how do the lesbian couple get in? Oh wait, bisexuality is great for TV ratings. I see rules don't apply to some people," a viewer commented on the Mitre 10 Facebook page.

But the women resent suggestions they're a ratings puppet, and say their sexuality is irrelevant.

"I don't think just because we are lesbians we were singled out and given any extra publicity, or portrayed in a different way to anyone else," Blair said.

"I am Jay, I am not defined by my sexuality. I am who I am."

The pair were shocked to see their performance on the show and their sexuality attacked by strangers on the internet.

"There is no way to prepare yourself for people you don't know criticising you. They don't know what we went through. It definitely has affected me," said Blair.

The family include three children from Fail's previous marriage, and the online debate raised questions about their lack of a male role model. Blair said the children have many influences in their lives, including their father.

"I am never trying to replace a male role model," she said. "I am a woman and I have woman qualities. It is great that their father is part of their life, he is a good guy. It is not really anyone else's business."

The attacks have also motivated the team to succeed on the show.

"Keep watching and judge us after 10 weeks, not after 10 minutes," said Blair.

In its 11th season, Mitre 10 Dream Home sees families compete in DIY tasks to win the chance to build their ultimate house. This year it is set in Christchurch.

Blair and Fail are competing against Sarah and Martyn Giles and their six kids, including four foster children.

The Giles family are the first homeowners to appear on the show, and that too has been criticised.

But recognising the need for homes in Canterbury, the application criteria was broadened to let those with quake- damaged homes apply.

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The family say they feel trapped in their wrecked home, on land considered the most badly damaged or at risk of future damage of all green-zoned land in Canterbury.

"In other parts of the country I don't think people understand that homeowners have been hit too," said Sarah Giles. "If we were renting we would have been able to move away. But we have no options. We are stuck in this house that we can't sell because it so damaged."

A fresh start in a home built specifically for the family's six kids would be a life-changing experience after years of uncertainty.

"It would just be a huge weight off our shoulders," said Martyn Giles.

- Sunday Star Times

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