Hallmark CEO touts 'seismic' shift in number of LGBT characters on its programs

A scene from the controversial Zola ad that was pulled from the Hallmark Channel then reinstated.
A scene from the controversial Zola ad that was pulled from the Hallmark Channel then reinstated. | Screenshot: Twitter/Zola

The CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel, recently boasted about the "seismic" shift in the number of LGBT characters appearing on the network's original programming.

According to Deadline, Wonya Lucas, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, discussed the network's efforts to expand representation of the LGBT community in its programming during a virtual question-and-answer session last week: "I'm proud of the progress this team is making to expand diversity in our programming and it is nothing short of seismic."

Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming for Crown Media Family Networks, expressed excitement about the movie "Mix it Up in the Mediterranean," which features the network's "first gay lead." 

Lucas' comments come more than a year after the cable network, long known for its family-friendly programming, came under fire for its failure to include LGBT characters in any of its 40 original holiday-themed movies in 2019. In response to the criticism, Vicary vowed that the network was "looking at pitches for LGBTQ movies."

At the same time, the conservative group One Million Moms expressed concerns about an ad for the jewelry website featuring two lesbians kissing each other at the end of their wedding ceremony that the Hallmark Channel aired. The group circulated a petition calling on the network to keep its content family-friendly. 

While Hallmark initially removed the ad following complaints from the conservative group, it was reinstated shortly thereafter as a result of criticism by LGBT advocacy groups. Citing concerns that "Hallmark is no longer family friendly," One Million Moms called for a boycott of the network.

Last summer, Hallmark released a statement, saying, "Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making more programming announcements in the coming months, with projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors." Later last year, a prominent theologian warned that Hallmark movies were being used as an "engine" to advance the LGBT "moral revolution."

Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, discussed the Hallmark movie "The Christmas House" on an episode of his daily podcast "The Briefing" in December. Mohler described "The Christmas House," which featured a male same-sex couple, as an example of Christmas-themed romantic comedies being "completely transformed and accommodated to the demands of the new moral revolutionaries."

"In a fallen world, with a spirit of rebellion and revolution against a biblical worldview and a biblical morality, the fact is that the romcom is now being used as an engine for this moral revolution to turn the world upside down," he said. "If it doesn't end right according to the dictates of the LGBTQ revolution, then these days the movie's not going to get made."

Hallmark is not the only cable channel known for family-friendly programming to face criticism for including LGBT storylines in its programming. The latest reboot of Nickelodeon's classic children's cartoon "Blues Clues" features the title anthropomorphic blue dog singing the "ABC Song" that features a nod to the LGBT community.

The song, which was published on the show's YouTube channel Thursday, has yet to air on television. It features words to represent all 26 letters of the alphabet and the word "pride" was chosen to represent the letter "P." As she announced that "P is full of pride," the letter "P," emblazoned in rainbow colors, appeared in the background alongside the multiple "pride flags" associated with each of the various sexual orientations.

Nickelodeon's decision to promote the pride flags on children's programming comes just two months after the cable channel launched the "trans youth acting challenge" that will enable transgender or nonbinary youth to submit audition tapes for a chance to take a "Zoom master acting class" with transgender actor Michael D. Cohen, who has appeared on the network's live-action programs "Henry Danger" and "Danger Force."

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