Amid Candace Cameron Bure Drama, Hallmark's Jonathan Bennett Shares How The Network Has Supported LGBTQ+ Storylines

Jonathan Bennett promotes Hallmark's The Christmas House.
(Image credit: Hallmark)

Great American Family actress Candace Cameron Bure has been on the receiving end of some intense backlash, after she said in response to a question about LGBTQ+ storylines that her new network would likely “keep traditional marriage at the core.” Jonathan Bennett, who stars in Hallmark's The Holiday Sitter, the network's first Christmas movie to feature a leading gay couple, was among many celebrities to respond to Bure, saying that he was proud to be part of a network that prioritized inclusive programming. Since then the actor has continued to praise Hallmark in the way it has shown support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Speaking to People, the Mean Girls actor recalled how emotional he was when he first got to play a gay character in Hallmark’s 2020 holiday movie The Christmas House (and its sequel the next year). Now Jonathan Bennett is set to star in The Holiday Sitter, which premieres December 11, and he said Hallmark has shown “so much respect” in its handling of LGBTQ+ stories. In his words: 

What I love so much about Hallmark Channel is the care they take in the quality of telling the story, especially when it involves LGBTQ+ people, it's handled with so much respect.

Jonathan Bennett even detailed how people would ask questions on set and consult with LGBTQ+ members of the cast and crew when figuring out the most authentic way to tell the story. The actor continued: 

If they don't know something or they're having a question on what we should do for a certain scene, they ask, they say, 'Hey, everyone's opinion, what is everyone LGBTQ+ members of the creative team, what do you guys think is the right move here?' And they listen and they are just so supportive and handle it so well. It's just been an unwavering amount of support from the network on telling the story and wanting to tell it and letting us do it how we want.

It sounds like Hallmark is taking the right steps to continue diversifying its content, regardless of what competing networks are doing. Following the comments by Candace Cameron Bure, who was one of several actors to leave Hallmark for GAF, the feud between her and JoJo Siwa was reignited, with the Dance Moms alum calling the Full House actress’ comments “rude and hurtful.” Several celebs, including Bure’s former co-star Jodie Sweetin, showed support for Siwa in the comments.

Former Hallmark actress Hilarie Burton also went off on Candace Cameron Bure, calling her a “bigot,” and GLAAD even released a statement, rebuking Bure for trying to “use tradition as a guise for exclusion.” Bure responded to the backlash by posting a lengthy statement to Instagram, saying she didn’t intend to hurt or offend anyone. She expressed her love for people of every “race, creed, sexuality, or political party.”

The Holiday Sitter will premiere on Hallmark Channel at 8 p.m. ET Sunday, December 11. See a schedule of all of the upcoming Hallmark movies, as well as a full list of 2022 Christmas movies.  

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.