About Those Divorce Rumors...
Though In Touch could find only one online headline about a potential divorce — with no information to back it up — from back in March, Chip and Joanna can’t stop denying that they’re splitting up after 14 years of marriage. “Someone [will] come up to me and say, ‘I hear you and Chip are getting a divorce. I’m like, ‘Where did you hear [that]?’” Joanna, who told fans not to be “scammed” by the fake news, said on Today on Sept. 14. Chip recently weighed in on Twitter, too. When a fan brought up the speculation, he wrote, “Won’t ever happen.”
revealed that the Gaines family attends Antioch Community Church, an evangelical megachurch whose pastor, Jimmy Seibert, “takes a hard line against same-sex marriage and promotes converting LGBT people into being straight.” The Gaineses also faced accusations that they themselves were homophobic because they had never featured a same-sex couple during the show’s four seasons that had aired. HGTV, which has aired Fixer Upper since 2013, tried to stem the damage by issuing a statement: “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows.”
The affable, goofy Chip tried to diffuse the situation. In a blog post he wrote on Jan. 2, he expressed alarm over how divided humanity is and said his family wants to fight for a world where people can “lovingly disagree.” “Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: We care about you for the simple fact that you are a person,” he wrote. “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.” But Noah Michelson, the editorial director of Huff Po Voices, claimed Chip was trying to have his cake and eat it, too. “They want to be able to either actively think that gay or queer people are corrupt or unnatural or just shouldn’t be allowed to get married and at the same time they don’t want to deal with any of the consequences for that belief,” he tells In Touch. “They don’t want to be called out, they don’t want to be boycotted, and they don’t want a PR disaster.”
And just like that scandal blew over, so will the Target kerfuffle, believes LA branding expert Rob Frankel. “In two to three years, everyone is going to forget about” the bathroom debate, Frankel tells In Touch. Meanwhile, Chip and Joanna will rake in plenty of cash from the Target deal, even if some people stay away. “Target is one of the top 100 brands in the country,” he continues. “You’re not going to do badly if you do a deal with them.” And Carmen Saenz of the InterWaco LGBTQ Community Group also believes the Gaineses made a shrewd move. “The optimist side of me wants to say, yes, they’ve become more open-minded,” she tells In Touch. “The pessimist side of me wants to say they will do whatever they need to do to make money.”
With passionate voices on both sides of the debate, Chip and Joanna could use the controversy to open another conversation. “Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders,” Chip said in January. “We want to help initiate conversations between people that don’t think alike.” He reaffirmed his commitment to keep an open mind in his Sept. 12 blog post. “With our friends, our family and with the people we do business with,” he wrote, “we are serious about continually finding common ground.” ◼
‘‘ We believe we are going to build something really beautiful [with Target] and that our positive impact will be far greater now than it would ever be apart” — CHIP