Houston's Eric Turner: The Object of Gawker's Abject Bitchiness
Two days ago, Eric Turner was just an anonymous (yet incredibly ripped) personal trainer in Houston looking forward to marrying his boyfriend Morne Coetzer in South Africa, where Coetzer grew up. But on Thursday, Gawker got ahold of the couple's gofundme site, where they asked for $7,000 to cover Turner's parents' flight. As you might guess, the couple were hit by an unforgiving hammer of snark and derision.
Sample comment: "They are disgusting for such a request. It's like asking for gas money for your Ferrari. They be hood rich."
We e-mailed Turner to see how the sudden infamy has affected the couple.
Turner told us that he's focusing on the support the couple has received in the midst of all the bitching.
"The most important thing to us as we prepare for our lives together is the support and blessings of our families," he wrote. "Strangers may say what they will, but having the love and support of those around us is what truly matters....I asked people to help us get my parents to my wedding. I still don't think that's in any way inappropriate."
Turner believes Gawker twisted the couple's sentiments. According to Gawker, "they'd gladly pay for Eric's parents to fly there, but they'd more gladly use your money...."
"The [G]awker article was written in a way to upset people," Turner tells us. "And upset people it did. They took what I said and completely twisted it. Even starting with the title of the article. It says we'd like people to pay for any of our 4 weddings. That just absolutely isn't true. We're having a ceremony in South Africa, and we're having a small 'celebration' in London where he lives, in Houston where I live, and in Salt Lake City where my family lives. We're talking about celebrations that are basically a houseparty potluck."
Turner also pointed out that his parents "haven't always been supportive of my lifestyle," but "now they want to attend my wedding -- but can't afford it."
Or at least they couldn't afford it before the gofundme page. He tells us that the couple has already received $4,000 "which puts me a long way toward two coach tickets to [Cape Town] and hotel for them. So I can't vocalize enough how thankful I am to the people who have been supportive."
Turner also gave us a little background: "When we decided to get married, we had to figure out a time and place where we'd both be, where same-sex marriage is legal. Morne' already had a trip scheduled to see his family in South Africa for the holidays. We tried to discuss the logistics of the least expensive way to have our ceremony, because him living in London and me in Houston, same-sex marriage is not legal in either (laws have been passed but don't take effect until next year). I got a ticket to go to South Africa, and we found a place at a public park where we could intimately share our nuptuals. Had we chosen a destination, such as New York, or anywhere else, the additional funds would have made it even more expensive."
It sounds like Turner wasn't too bothered by the attention, but he feels bad that his fiance got dragged into it.
"When I stepped into the public spotlight through modeling years ago, I know that I signed up for this. But Morne' didn't sign up for the same scrutiny. I'm a big boy, and I'm certainly not crying. If anything, like I said, I'm thankful that there are some diamonds in the rough who saw that Gawker article."
We wish them the best!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.