Feb. 22, 2011 -- Last December, "What Would You Do?" asked the question "How would you react to hearing a parent berate his child because he was gay?" Over the course of the day we found that many patrons felt it wasn't their business to get involved in the private conversation. But there were a few who didn't hold their tongues and gave some of the most heartfelt reactions we have captured to date. So much so, it inspired one of our viewers to submit a twist on that scenario in the "How Would You Do It?" contest.
'How Would You Do It?'
Damen Sterling from Taylor, Mich., suggested we flip the script on the homophobic parent scenario. He wanted to know what would happen if the roles were reversed and the parent were to come out to the child. Would people stand up for the parent or side with the child? Damen became a "How Would You Do It?" contest finalist, and we decided to give his scenario a try.
We decided to cast Matthew, who played the homophobic parent from the previous episode, into the role of the homosexual parent. We found one actor for whom this scenario hit close to home. Tyler, the actor who played our homophobic teen, told us, "Just so you know, I'm not homophobic at all, I was raised by two moms."
We set up shop at the Park Wayne Diner, in Wayne, N.J., and with our cameras hidden, our actors mic'd and ready to go we started to roll.
Just a few moments pass and Matthew begins the conversation about his new sexuality.
"How do I say this?" Matthew says. "I've gotten really close to a guy I work with and things have been building up, and I have fallen in love."
"You fell in love with a guy?" Tyler asks. Ears instantly perk up, and we have the attention of a few nearby diners.
'Take Your Conversation Outside'
As Tyler loudly expresses his dislike in his "father's" new lifestyle, we notice that some diners seem uncomfortable.
Matthew tries to comfort his "son."
"Things are not going to change," he says, but Tyler doesn't seem to understand and states, "I just don't see how this is going to work."
Matthew continues to try to reason with Tyler, but to little avail.
Tyler's confusion continues to set in as he says, "You were supposed to love Mom!"
Matthew replies, "I did love Mom."
Tyler, still incredulous, says, "You left her because you were gay?"
That was the last straw for diner customer Ken Moore. He approaches our actors and said, "Take it outside, or keep your voice down!"
Later, when John Quinones asked Moore how he felt about parents coming out to their kids, he replied, "It's a lifestyle that I am not comfortable with. You know it's just a bit upsetting, a little bit to me, to see it happen in a public place."
Words of Wisdom
We continue to roll. This time, we take notice that one woman, Morgan O'Connor, is closely following the heated conversation. She continues to glance over as our father and son argue.
And when our frustrated teen storms out of the scene leaving Matthew alone at the table, she seizes the opportunity to lend some advice.
"It's okay, he will come around," O'Connor said to Matthew. "It's going to take time. No amount of love for your child is going to make a difference right now. He has got to come to terms with it."
'See Him as the Person Inside'
O'Connor even agrees to share her wisdom with Tyler when he returns. When Tyler asks her what he should do, she tells him, "It will come slowly. You have to get past his choice and see him as the person inside."
O'Connor later explains to John Quinones that she is not the type of person to just sit back and not get involved when she sees others in need.
We come across one table of teens who had more of a blunt approach.
After Tyler finishes a phone call with a friend, telling him the news about his newly outed parent, customer Michelle Lapichino has something to say.
"I think you're acting ridiculous. That's your father. We're in the twenty-first century," the young woman tells Tyler.
The rest of the group at the table agrees. They all tell Tyler that he needs to accept his father for who he is and still love him.
At the end of the day we saw similar reactions to the ones expressed in the previous scenario of the homophobic parent. Most bystanders who spoke to us agreed that you should love the person for who they are and not for whom they love.
Watch the scenario unfold on a special episode of "What Would You Do?" Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
For more information on this issue, visit COLAGE.