Neal Bledsoe Leaving Great American Family in Support of LGBTQIA+ Community
Following comments from Candace Cameron Bure and Great American Family CEO Bill Abbott about the type of films they will be producing, Neal Bledsoe, who was in one of the network’s 2022 holiday films, Christmas at the Drive-In, has announced he won’t be returning for more in the future.
As he explained in a statement to Variety, “The thought that my work could be used to deliberately discriminate against anyone horrifies and infuriates me. I hope GAF will change, but until everyone can be represented in their films with pride, my choice is clear. I look forward to working with creators who put no limits on the stories we tell and follow through on their message of values with open arms.”
In November, Bure said she didn’t expect GAF to be producing movies featuring same-sex couples, saying, “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.” Abbott then followed up by saying they haven’t ruled out more LGBTQ+ representation in the future.
Since then, celebrities have spoken out about their comments. Hilarie Burton Morgan, who has appeared in Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, tweeted in response, specifically noting Abbott’s use of the word “trends” in reference to the aforementioned possibility. “Now they’re just openly admitting their bigotry. I called this s**t out years ago when Abbott was at Hallmark. Glad they dumped him. Being LGBTQ isn’t a ‘trend’. That guy and his network are disgusting,” she wrote. “You too Candy. There is nothing untraditional about same-sex couples.”
Bure then posted a long statement to Instagram, which, in part, read, “All of you who know me, know beyond question that I have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone.”
In Bledsoe’s statement, which you can read in full on Variety, he noted “my life wouldn’t be where it is today without the love, support, and guidance of the LGBTQIA+ community. From my mentors in college, to the myriad of agents and managers, writers and directors, teachers and colleagues, and, of course, my dear friends and family, who have all touched my life, I owe them a great debt. … I want to be very clear: my support for the LGBTQIA+ community is unconditional – nothing is worth my silence or their ability to live and love freely in a world that we are lucky enough to share with them.”
He also called out the use of the phrase “traditional marriage,” saying it “is as odious as it is baffling. Not simply wrong in its morality, it’s also a moot point, when you consider that most romantic movies don’t feature married couples at all, nor even weddings, but simply people meeting and falling in love.”
Other celebrities who have addressed Bure’s comments include JoJo Siwa, who, in a social media post, wrote, “Honestly, I can’t believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press. This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people.” Bure’s former costar Jodie Sweetin, who has appeared in Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, commented on Siwa’s post with “You know I love you” and two heart emojis.
This comes ahead of Hallmark airing its first movie with an LGBTQ+ lead couple, The Holiday Sitter starring Jonathan Bennett and George Krissa. “I’m just so proud to be on Hallmark Channel, that’s making these movies for everyone, because Christmas is for everyone and [the] Hallmark channels are for everyone,” Bennett told E! News.
Bledsoe’s Christmas movie premiered on Great American Family on November 25, but as he noted in his statement and shared on Instagram, he has been “unusually silent at a time when I should have been promoting a holiday film, a film with the express purpose of bringing everyone comfort in a time of great tumult and change, but I cannot continue with business as usual. I cannot take comfort from, nor will I give refuge to, those who excuse exclusion and promote division in any way, shape, or form.”
Stay tuned for more on this developing story.