TLC’s reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" centers around the endearing Alana Thompson, better known as Honey Boo Boo, the beauty pageants she enters and her family, who lives in McIntyre, a rural town in Central Georgia. The series is one of TLC’s highest-rated shows but has been criticized by some for its outrageous content. The A.V. Club even called the first episode a "horror story posing as a reality television program."
But one of the most surprising things about the show is Honey Boo Boo’s gay uncle, affectionately called Uncle Poodle.
Lee Thompson, 29, made his appearance on the show’s Season One finale. In a recent interview with Georgia Voice, he spoke out for gay rednecks everywhere in Dixie.
Thompson, who is the younger brother of Honey Boo Boo’s father, Mike, explains how he got the nickname "Uncle Poodle."
"We were at practice one day, getting ready for a pageant. Her coach was talking about her gay friends, and she said, ’I love all my poodles.’ Alana thought she was really talking about dogs," Thompson told the publication. "She wanted to know how many poodles she had, and what were their names. And I said, ’No, Alana, she’s talking about gay people.’ Well, that did it. All gay people are poodles to her now, and I’m her number one poodle."
Honey Boo Boo, who is just seven, called Anderson Cooper a "very nice poodle" while on his talk show earlier this year.
"Oh my god, and he wasn’t even out yet!" Thompson said. "I about died. Then about a month later he came out. Not bad gaydar for a 7 year old... but, well, look who she learned it from."
Thompson told the Georgia Voice about his recent marriage to his partner Josh. The couple tied the knot in August in rural Georgia and several family members attended the ceremony.
Clips of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" have been mocked on "The Soup" and the show has been parodied on "Saturday Night Live," "Chelsea Lately" and "South Park." But singers Britney Spears and Ke$ha have quoted Honey Boo Boon on Twitter and Roise O’Donnell compared the seven-year-old reality star to Shirley Temple and even stated she wanted to buy her family a house.
The New York Times and the Washington Post have taken Thompson to task for not using his fame as a soapbox to educate viewers on the reality of Southern, redneck gay men and women. The Post published a column critical of Uncle Poodle’s reticence to defend gay rednecks. About the column, titled, "Uncle Poodle Needs to Speak Up," Thompson replied, "Come on now. Who writes a story saying Uncle Poodle needs to speak up, and then doesn’t call Uncle Poodle to find out what he has to say?"
Well, Uncle Poodle is speaking up. It looks like he’s taking the opportunity of his own Warholian 15 minutes to speak out for gay men and women in small Southern towns.
"I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get, and we want to be somewhere we can fish and jump on a four-wheeler, go hog wallowing," he told Georgia Voice. "There’s probably 40 or 50 of us - gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people - around here, they’re all open about it, everybody knows it."
"If you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are," he added. "If you do, you earn people’s respect. If everybody would just go on and do that, ignorant people couldn’t cause so many problems. I know this is how I was born and I don’t need to explain it to anybody. I live my life for who I am. That’s why ’Born This Way’ is gonna be my next tattoo."
Back in September, a clip of Honey Boo Boo went viral in which the seven-year-old proclaimed, there "Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay."
Watch the clip, which also features Uncle Poodle, below: