Neal Bledsoe, who has starred in movies on both Hallmark and Great American Family, announced to Variety that he is leaving GAF due to inclusivity concerns, and he hopes GAF will change one day. He just starred in a new Christmas movie on GAF opposite Danica McKellar called “Christmas at the Drive-In.” Bledsoe said his concerns were why he hadn’t been promoting the movie like he normally would.
He Said the LGBTQIA+ Community Helped Him When He Once Struggled with a ‘Narrow Definition of Masculinity’
In an exclusive statement to Variety, Bledsoe said he was distancing himself from Great American Family, a new network that has signed a number of contracts with Hallmark stars. He added that he’s also donating to True Colors United and hopes others will do the same.
He began his statement by telling Variety how important the LGBTQIA+ community has been to him throughout his life, especially during a time when he struggled with society’s definition of what masculinity means.
“My life wouldn’t be where it is today without the love, support, and guidance of the LGBTQIA+ community,” he said, adding that mentors, agents, managers, writers, teachers, and more had all influenced his life and he owed them all.
“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,” he shared.
Bledsoe said that he needs to stand up for the LGBTQIA+ community, just like they helped him in the past.
“And now, if I cannot stand up for that community in their time of need, my debt to them means nothing,” he told Variety. “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 Explained This Is Why He Has Not Been Promoting His Christmas Movie with McKellar
Bledsoe went on to explain to Variety that some had noticed he had been quiet about his new Christmas movie with Danica McKellar, and this is why.
He told Variety: “You may have noticed that I have 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.”
His Statement Came Shortly After McKellar Issued Her Own Statement About Believing in Inclusivity
McKellar herself also issued a statement about inclusivity just before Thanksgiving, saying that she’s a new Christian and believes in “all forms of healthy love between adults.”
“My husband and I were privileged to attend my good friend’s beautiful wedding to his husband earlier this year in Mexico,” she wrote, referring to a Jonathan Bennett’s wedding.
She added that she supports representation, and “as far as I can tell, Jesus loves and includes everyone. That’s kind of His thing…”
In his statement, Bledsoe said that while everyone is entitled to their beliefs, he believes that “the recent comments made by leadership at Great American Family are hurtful, wrong, and reflect an ideology that prioritizes judgment over love.”
He added that he was raised a Christian, and he believes “in the essential message of love and forgiveness.”
Bledsoe added: “That said, I could never forgive myself for continuing my relationship with a network that actively chooses to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Bledsoe Shared That This Isn’t About Freedom of Expression, But About Compassion & Doing the Right Thing
Bledsoe told Variety that the issue isn’t the freedom to express beliefs that he disagrees with, but “someone in an executive position speaking about deliberate exclusion.”
He went on to say that most romantic movies aren’t about marriage, but about people falling in love, so “the phrase ‘traditional marriage’ is as odious as it is baffling.” He added that describing representing the LGTBQIA+ community as a trend “is also both troubling and confusing.”
Bledsoe noted that when the Mormon Church supports marriage equality and the right is about to be “codified into law,” the question is “whether any organization that stands against such love would be trending toward the dustbin of history.”
He said that he reached out to a friend “who grew up out and brown in the South,” and his friend talked about when Elizabeth Taylor visited the lonely people dying of AIDS when society was shunning them.
“Her compassion was neither cool, nor woke, nor a virtue signal, it was just the right thing to,” he wrote.
Bledsoe went on to share a statement from his friend, which you can read in full in Variety’s article here. His friend pointed out that by leaving the LGBTQIA+ community out of Christmas movies, a network is communicating “the belief that happiness is impossible with us in the picture. Worse yet: that we do not deserve happiness simply because of who we are. The animus is not simply to hate the sin; it’s to get the sinner to hate themselves so much that they capitulate to this corrosive narrative.”
Bledsoe continued, writing, “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.”
Bledsoe Spoke Out in March About Celebrities Who Were Silent About Ukraine
Bledsoe isn’t shy about speaking out when it’s important to him. In March, he spoke out about celebrities who were silent about Ukraine.
He told Heavy at the time: “My objective here is not to draw attention to myself, or pick fights with celebrities and brands. Instead, I want to raise awareness for an on-going crisis that I fear will get much worse before it gets better… Obviously, I am no foreign policy expert, nor do I pretend to be, but I am someone who is trying to dig into the truth and share that truth when I find it.”
Bledsoe recently starred opposite McKellar in GAC Family’s “The Winter Palace” and then again in the new movie “Christmas at the Drive-Through.” He’s starred in a number of Hallmark movies, including “Coming Home for Christmas” opposite McKellar and “A Christmas Carousel” opposite Rachel Boston.