Neil Bledsoe Turns Away From Great American Family: “My Support For The LGBTQIA+ Community Is Unconditional” (EXCLUSIVE)

Neil Bledsoe distances himself from the great American family. In a special statement to diversethe actor, who starred in 2021’s “The Winter Palace” and this year’s “Christmas at the Drive-In” for GAF, explained his choice to step away from the Bill Abbott-led network after recent remarks by both the CEO and Candace Cameron Bure, Chief Creative Officer.

“I hope GAF changes, but so that everyone in their films is proudly represented, my choice is clear. I look forward to working with creators who set no boundaries for the stories we tell and pursue their message of values ​​with open arms,” he says, in part, below.

In a recent interview with Wall Street JournalPuri said that Great American Family would no longer feature same-sex couples in their films but instead focus on “traditional marriage”. Abbott added, “It’s definitely 2022, so we’re aware of the trends. There’s no whiteboard saying ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’re never going here.'”

After the backlash, Bure released a lengthy statement about her comments, blaming the media for the “split”.

Below, Bledsoe explains his very personal stance on the topic and his hopes for change:

My life wouldn’t be what it is today without the love, support, and guidance of the LGBTQIA+ community. From my college mentors, to countless agents, managers, writers, directors, mentors, colleagues, and of course my dear friends and family, who have all impacted my life, I owe a huge debt to them. As someone who struggled as a young man with our society’s too narrow definition of manhood, it was theirs that provided me with refuge and a guiding light when I felt lost in my life. And now, if I cannot stand up for this community in their time of need, my debt to them means nothing. So, I want to be very clear: my support for the LGBTQIA+ community is unconditional — nothing is deserving of my silence or their ability to live and love freely in a world we are fortunate enough to share with them.

You may have noticed that I was unusually silent at a time when I should be promoting a holiday movie, one expressly intended as comfort to all in a time of upheaval and great change, but I just can’t go about business as usual. I cannot take comfort from those who in any way, shape, or form exclude and promote division, and I will not give them refuge. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and these are mine: Recent comments made by the leadership at Great American Family are hurtful, wrong, and reflect an ideology that prioritizes judgment over love. I was raised as a Christian, and I believe in the basic message of love and forgiveness. However, I can never forgive myself for continuing to be associated with a network that actively chooses to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community.

Freedoms of speech or religion, or even freedom to express beliefs with which I might strongly disagree, are not the issue here. It’s about someone in an executive position talking about willful exclusion on behalf of an entire network. This is why the phrase “traditional marriage” is as obnoxious as it is baffling. Not only is its morals wrong, it’s also a moot point, when you consider that most romantic films don’t feature couples at all, not even weddings, but just people meeting and falling in love. Describing this whole human love and representation of the LGBTQIA+ community as a “trend” is also troubling and confusing. When institutions like the Mormon Church support marriage equality, and join the vast majority of Americans who already believe in the fundamental right to love whomever we please and how we desire—and when that right is about to be codified into the law of the land—one need not ask what the directions are. But whether any organization that stands against such love will be consigned to the dustbin of history?

As I thought of that statement, I reached out to a dear friend of mine for guidance, a man who grew up in the South, when it was much more dangerous to do so then than it is now. It reminded me of the courage of Elizabeth Taylor, who visited the lonely outcasts dying of AIDS in Reagan’s America when our society wanted nothing to do with them. Her sympathy was neither quiet nor awake nor gesture of virtue, It was just the right thing to doEspecially when so much of our culture has chosen cruelty. Decades later, it amazes me to think that some of us still find ways to justify a crueler world under the cloak of faith, tradition, or, worse, public participation.

When we were discussing this, my friend wrote the following, which I share here with his permission, as his words speak of this more personally, eloquently, and truthfully than anything I could say:

The unchanging gift of those Christmas novels is the belief in a happy ending. The most devastating lie–that turns off the light in us–is the belief that happiness is impossible with us in the picture. Worse: that we do not deserve happiness simply because of who we are. Enmity is not merely the hatred of sin; it is Making the sinner hate himself so much that he succumbs to this devastating narrative. It is ironic that a network with the word “family” in its name would choose to punish people who understand the meaning of the word, in the most profound way, I don’t. The massive data about the overlap of homelessness and the LGBTQIA+ community reflect the failures of American families in their role Fundamental: Parents and caregivers have chosen a harsh narrative over a life worthy of love and support, and for which they are responsible. The only way we can survive this abolition of duty is by creating our own families and our own version of what unconditional love looks like.”

As an artist, I long to be proud of the work I create. But the thought that my work could be used to deliberately discriminate against anyone terrifies and infuriates me. I hope GAF will change, but until everyone is proudly represented in their films, my choice is clear. I look forward to working with creators who don’t set limits on the stories we tell and pursue their value mission with open arms. In that spirit, I’m making a donation to True Colors United, and if those words have any resonance with you, I hope you’ll join me.

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