Full House stars Jodie Sweetin and Candace Cameron Bure are familiar in my household, the show being one of a handful I watched during my childhood and my own kid consumed decades later. After a whopping 192 episodes (?!), without even mentioning Fuller House, we even did a group costume for the first COVID Halloween (I was Aunt Becky). Maybe it’s weird that these characters, and by extension the actors, helped my anxious child through the first stretch of the pandemic, but they did.
On Tuesday, my daughter, now 12, sent me an email with the subject heading, “DJ Tanner, you’re in big trouble, Mister!” (a classic Michelle Tanner-ism). The contents were a link to Cameron Bure’s announcement that her new TV channel, Great American Family, would focus on “traditional marriage” and not include LGBTQ2S+ content. As a queer parent, I had many emotional reactions to this. As much as it’d be nice to be all, “Queer moms, we’re just like every other mom!”—it’s not true. If you don’t have people in positions of power actively trying to censor your reality from the public eye, we are not the same.
Bure left the Hallmark Channel, where she’s been a holiday movie regular, earlier this year to become chief creative officer at Great American Family, a faith-based station. While Hallmark is set to debut its first holiday movie with a gay couple at its centre next month, Bure told the Wall Street Journal that “Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.”
This is not the first time Bure has shown her homophobic colours. While co-hosting The View in 2015, Bure defended an Oregon bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
More recently, the former child star got into a beef with JoJo Siwa when the queer teen star called her the “rudest celebrity [she’s] ever met” in a July TikTok video. While the conflict was rooted in an interaction they had when Bure refused a photo with then 11-year-old Siwa, the queer dancer and Dance Moms alum was quick to take to Instagram this week when Bure announced she’d intentionally be excluding queer and trans stories.
“Honestly, I can’t believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with [the] intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press. This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people,” Siwa posted.
Bure’s former co-star, Jodie Sweetin, replied to Siwa’s post by writing “You know I love you,” in a comment. Sweetin went on to post pro-LGBTQ2S+ content on her own Instagram stories, including one supporting @transanta and another in support of the Respect for Marriage Act. She even went as far as posting that Jesus didn’t condemn gay people—melting my cold, Jewish heart.
“If (Great American Family’s) plan is to intentionally exclude stories about LGBTQ2S+ couples, then actors, advertisers, cable and streaming platforms and production companies should take note and seriously consider whether they want to be associated with a network that holds exclusion as one of its values,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to Today.
Thinking back, those episodes of Full House were not without their homophobic jokes and transphobic tropes, but it was easy enough to tell my kid “that’s what people used to think was funny,” and chalk it up to its time period (1987–1995). I mean, people also wore feathered bangs, patterned vests and side ponytails at the time—things are different now, aren’t they? It’s true that one’s childhood icons revealing themselves as homophobes is not a new thing that has never happened before, but, truth be told, it stings every time. And when it comes to a show as feel-good as this one, it’s an awful shift toward associations that now feel objectively bad.
When I asked my kid about Bure’s statement, she said that Bure’s Full House character, D.J., was shown to be compassionate and someone who cared for others, and that it’s a letdown to know that the person behind the character discriminates (my wording, obviously).
On the surface, sure, my Jewish tween with a queer parent isn’t the target market for any Christmas movies, but, like so many things, there are consequences beyond this microcosm. LGBTQ2S+ kids and kids with queer and trans parents, family members and friends deserve to have their realities reflected in the media they consume and respected by the people they look up to. Stephanie Tanner was never my favourite character on the show, but right now at least Jodie Sweetin is a bright light in a moment of disappointment.