The fallout from Candace Cameron Bure’s comments about portraying “traditional marriage” on Great America Family continues. Neal Bledsoe has announced he is stepping away from the network in a lengthy statement emphasizing his support for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“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,” the 41-year-old actor began in a statement published by Variety on Monday, December 5. “As someone who struggled as a young man with our society’s extremely narrow definition of masculinity, it was their community that provided me with refuge and a guiding light when my life felt lost. And now, if I cannot stand up for that 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 worth my silence or their ability to live and love freely in a world that we are lucky enough to share with them.”
Bledsoe acknowledged that he’s been “unusually silent” ahead of the release of Christmas at the Drive-In, a film he appeared in alongside Danica McKellar, which premiered on November 25. (He last posted about the film in October.)
“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. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and these are mine: the recent comments made by leadership at Great American Family are hurtful, wrong, and reflect an ideology that prioritizes judgment over love,” he continued. “I was raised as a Christian, and believe in the essential message of love and forgiveness. That said, I could never forgive myself for continuing my relationship with a network that actively chooses to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community.”
While he didn’t use Cameron Bure’s name, Bledsoe went on to call her out, citing her recent interview with WSJ. Magazine in which she told the outlet that the network will “keep traditional marriage at the core.” (The Full House alum, who stars and produces content for Great American Family, later released a lengthy statement of her own, claiming she has “great love and affection for all people.”)
“Freedoms of speech or religion, or even the freedom to express beliefs that I might vehemently disagree with, are not the issue here. This is about someone in an executive position speaking about deliberate exclusion on behalf of an entire network. This is why the phrase ‘traditional marriage’ is as odious as it is baffling,” Bledsoe said. “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.”
Bledsoe also addressed CEO Bill Abbott’s comments that the network is “aware of the trends” in 2022 but has no plans to include same-sex love stories in its programming.
“To describe that love and the full human representation of the LGBTQIA+ community as a ‘trend’ is also both troubling and confusing,” Bledsoe explained. “When institutions such as the Mormon Church support marriage equality, and join the vast majority of Americans who already believe in the fundamental right to love who and how we please – and when that right is about to be codified into the law of the land – one has to ask not what are the trends, but whether any organization that stands against such love would be trending toward the dustbin of history? … It galls me to think that some among us are still finding ways to justify a crueler world under the cloak of faith, tradition, or, even worse, audience share.”
Bledsoe originally worked with McKellar on Hallmark Channel’s Coming Home for Christmas in 2017. In addition to Christmas at the Drive-In, they reunited for Great American Family’s The Winter Palace earlier this year. McKellar, who signed a four-picture deal with GAC Family and GAC Living in October 2021, publicly supported Cameron Bure in the comments section of her post last month. On Thanksgiving, she seemingly addressed the controversy again.
“I’d like to set the record straight about something. I’m a new Christian, and I’m so grateful for that. 🙏 As I always have, I celebrate all forms of healthy love between adults, and I support representation. I was thrilled to have a role in a couple episodes of Home Economics earlier this year, and my husband and I were privileged to attend my good friend’s beautiful wedding to his husband earlier this year in Mexico. At the time, we commented that it was one of the purest expressions of love we had ever seen,” she wrote. “The idea that Christianity would judge any form of love simply baffles me. I’m still new to my faith journey, but as far as I can tell, Jesus loves and includes everyone. That’s kind of His thing…”
In the comments section, Bledsoe wrote: “Bravo, McKellar. Proud of you.”