Mariah Brown, “Sister Wives” Daughter Comes Out in Emotional and Powerful Episode

As last night’s episode of the hit TLC reality series Sister Wives started to wind down, one of the stars, daughter Mariah Brown, came out as a lesbian when she told her moms and father that she had an important announcement to make. Brown called a family meeting, and after a few tense moments where she said “You guys are freaking out, which is making me freak out,” she came out by saying “I’m gay.”

Sister Wives is a reality show that has been airing since 2010 about a Fundamentalist Mormon man who is married to four wives, in keeping with the tradition of polygamy. While the family does have a lot of “traditional” beliefs and “strong family values” they have been known to support marriage equality in the past, saying that all people should be free to live their lives however they want.

Coming out to your parents is often a really hard thing, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to come out to five parents, but Mariah showed plenty of courage and strength when she told her truth to her entire family not knowing how they’d react. Because the episode ended right after the announcement, we don’t fully know how they reacted either, but it did show several of the wives smiling while others looked confused or even worried.

In the previews for next week’s episode, we got to see Mariah talking with her biological mother, Meri, about the coming out. Meri seemed most upset about the news and said to her husband and her sister wives that she was concerned about their happiness with Mariah’s announcement. “You were, like, smiling and happy and saying you were so happy for her. And I’m just… I don’t…” she said. Kody Brown, her husband replied that, “We’re not happy Mariah’s gay; we’re happy Mariah knows herself.” She also says, “I thought I knew my daughter; I didn’t,” and that she’s worried about saying the wrong thing, but also wants to say what she believes is right.

Still, the internet was supportive of Mariah and she tweeted in response a thank you message to her fans.

In a classic lesbian move, Mariah appears in the next episode with her hair down, no makeup, a backwards baseball cap and a nose ring. Congratulations Mariah, we’re so incredibly happy for you and we hope you have the happiest present and future you can imagine.

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Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

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  1. It’s totally my mom’s fault that I even watch Sister Wives, but watching Mariah come out actually made me a little emotional. I watched it OnDemand yesterday, so ended up having the “big reveal” spoiled earlier in the week, but I was still really nervous for her. I remember an older episode, probably one of the sit-down episodes, where they were asked how they would react of one of their kids turned out to be gay. I was happy that they aren’t completely anti-gay. I think they actually said something along the lines of having so many kids, they wouldn’t be surprised if one of them was gay. I think once Meri is able to process this a little she’ll be fine.

  2. I caught an episode recently at a hotel and am I confusing all the kids or wasn’t she engaged to a guy pretty recently? Either way, good for her! I recently watched this Vice documentary on polygamy and was very surprised at their chill? approach to marriage equality.

    • As far as I know, only two of the daughters are engaged (both married now). Ironically, Mariah is the only one of the kids who ever said she DID want to live the plural life. It will be interesting to see if that is brought up at any point before the finale.

  3. Texts between me and the wife this morning after reading this today –

    Me: “spoiler alert: one of the kids on sister wives is gay”
    Her: “I bet its Mariah”

  4. I read something today about how Mariah said she was super homophobic in order to deal with her gayness and I just. I JUST RELATE SO MUCH TO HER STORY.
    I’m so happy for her. And I’m happy for her (ridiculous amount of) younger siblings because they’ll be growing up having her around and having her trailblazed a path for them to not fit their family’s mold. She seems like a smart cookie and. God. Yeah. Such goodness.
    Also, I’m selfishly thrilled that someone actually came out as a lesbian. I feel like that never happens anymore. As someone who identifies STRONGLY as a lesbian, that made me feel represented for the first time in godfuckingever.

  5. I have Feelings about this. For some reason back in the day, I got weirdly fascinated with this show. It was around the time when conservatives were all arguing that if gay marriage was legalized, “what’s next – polygamy?”

    And I know that it’s an issue made very complex by fundamentalists/criminals like Warren Jeffs who obviously are sexual predators, and I’m troubled by the gender hypocrisy of families like the Browns who believe that a man should marry more than one wife but a wife should never take more than one husband, but it always seemed to me that – unconnected to fundamentalism – poly marriages aren’t a bad idea for everyone/aren’t inherently oppressive? Like, some people in our community might want them, were they available? SO I think I got interested in this show because they were living in an illegal marriage arrangement that was right for them, even if the premise of that marriage was very foreign to me, and even if Cody Brown is kind of a giant douchebag with hilarious hair.

    ANYWAY. The Browns have touched on marriage equality (the LGB kind) at various times in the show; once they stated that given the number of children they had, they would honestly be surprised if they DIDN’T end up with at least one gay child (lol). They also touched on what Mey talked about above – that they felt people should be free to choose how to live. But with that, I always wondered if there was an unspoken clause – “even if that lifestyle condemns them to hell and/or causes us to excommunicate them from our family.” TL:DR I really hope that that clause doesn’t exist, that they are able to reconcile their beliefs and support Mariah! I don’t really follow the show anymore, but I may check out these episodes.

    • I don’t think so and if so, I don’t think they’d follow it. At one point they were working with a clothing store or boutique owner who was a lesbian with a long term partner and all the wives were fine with it once they discovered the fact and explicitly expressed how tolerant they were.

  6. When I saw the preview I just LOVED that the next scene cuts to Mariah in a backwards snapback and cut offs. YOU’RE SO CUTE MARIAH.

  7. I feel so much less alone knowing I’m not the only card-carrying homo who watches this show and/or has watched it. I missed a couple seasons in the middle, but I’m weirdly fascinated by their family. If I can close my eyes and forget that the parents and the LDS church have patriarchal and conservative beliefs, they actually are a really well-functioning family. I wish they weren’t the only mainstream TV example of a blended poly family and I think that their reality show only further confuses polygamy and polyamory for the general public.

    But, but, like, they’re actually really OK people? I saw a snippet of an upcoming People interview with Mariah and it sounds like all 5 parents have decided to support her. I imagine they still think she’s going to hell, but like…they aren’t going to judge her life. (Let God judge and all that BS, I’m sure.)

    • KaeLyn and everyone, what would you say the official distinction between polygamy and polyamory is? Is polygamy always one man with multiple women? Or is it always tied to religion?

      • I think by definition Polygamy is one man, multiple wives. Not necessarily from religious point of view. Polyandry on the other hand is one woman with multiple husbands.

      • Technically, what you see on the show is polygyny, many women. The reverse would be polyandry, and the general term became polygamy, basically many gametes. I don’t know why, since polygyny is by far the most common arrangement. Polyamory suggests “many loves,” and isn’t so connected to hetero marriage.

        • Polygamy is more than two *spouses*, polyamory doesn’t specify whether the partners are married.

      • Polygamy is the practice of someone having more than one spouse, polygyny is a man with more than one wife, polyandry is person with multiple husbands, and polyamory is not necessarily about marriage, just means “many loves.”

  8. Welcome to the fold, darling! There’s something I find comforting about seeing people come out and think ‘oh, that makes sense,’ that I don’t really know how to explain.

    I’ve also kept an eye on the show, although I can’t claim being a regular viewer, and at the end of just about every episode I find myself wondering why all the wives don’t just run away together and leave Cody. I mean he doesn’t seem like a AWFUL guy but I definitely don’t get how he got multiple women to marry him.

  9. This makes me so happy! I haven’t seen the show in years, but I always remembered that time others have referenced where they said given how many kids they have, it wouldn’t be surprising if some were gay. Good for Mariah, and I hope the family proves to be supportive.

  10. I don’t really watch the show, but I saw the preview for this episode while watching something else & sat up on the couch like “she gay!!” But there was also a little doubt, cuz idk how queer-friendly TLC is. But I literally clapped my hands really loud and yelled “HA I KNEW IT!” Scared my mom.
    I guess I’ll have to watch it now, to see how it’s handled (edited).

  11. There are so many different people in the Mormon/LDS church with widely different beliefs & approaches to their faith and queerness. Another part of the story is a group called Mama Dragons, of mothers of queer kids, who are advocating for their kids and opposing the church leadership’s intolerance. In the Bay at least, there’s a group of Mormons who marched with Pride starting a few years ago, not sure if they are still at it. (I’m not Mormon).

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