Kirk Cameron's remarks that homosexuality 'unnatural, 'detrimental,' and 'ultimately destructive' have created an immense backlash in recent days from the gay community, celebrities and even some of his former Growing Pains co-stars.
Cameron, the one-time child star who now focuses on Christian films and projects, spoke out against the backlash for the first time in Tuesday (6 March) about the comments he made last week in CNN's Piers Morgan Live.
'I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community,' he told ABC News in an email. 'That is not true. I can assuredly say that it’s my life’s mission to love all people.'
'I should be able to express moral views on social issues,' Cameron added, 'especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.'
Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s Senior Director of Programs and Communications, responded to Cameron's comments on Tuesday: 'Saying that gay people are 'detrimental to civilization' might be 'loving' in Kirk Cameron’s mind, but it's gay youth and victims of bullying who truly suffer from adults like Cameron who espouse these ideas. [He] used his platform to attack gay Americans and is now attempting to play victim in an effort to sell his upcoming movie. That Cameron would risk the health and safety of young people in order to do so speaks for itself.'
'Obviously, Cameron has the right to recite his anti-gay talking points, just like fair-minded Americans have the right to tell him that his views are harmful and have no place in modern America,' Graddick added.
On Monday, two of his Growing Pains co-stars, Alan Thicke and Tracey Gold, took to Twitter to publicly distance themselves from his anti-gay remarks and several Hollywood stars including Chris Colfer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Christine Lahti were critical of Cameron during red carpet interviews at Saturday night's benefit performance of the play 8.
Ferguson then tweeted the morning after the play: 'The only unnatural thing about me being gay is that I had a crush on Kirk Cameron until about 24 hours ago.'
On Monday's episode of CBS's The Talk, co-host Sara Gilbert – herself a former child star who was on the sitcom Roseanne – echoed GLAAD's point and said Cameron needs to be more thoughtful about the things he says about gay people.
'You really have to think about who you are hurting – the kids out there who aren’t OK with who they are,' said Gilbert, who is a lesbian. 'In lesbian, gay, and transgender youth, the suicide attempt rate is 30 to 40 percent, and those kids hearing that message. He just needs to think about that. And when he’s saying we’re taking apart foundations in society, I would argue that there is no one who fights for marriage more than gay people.'
Gilbert's one-time TV mom Roseanne Barr had far harsher words for Cameron via Twitter: 'Kirk or Kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech. so is Rick Warren. Their peers r killing gays in Uganda.'
In his statement to ABC News, Cameron hoped cooler heads would prevail in the ongoing debate over gay marriage and homosexuality and the disagreements people may have.
'I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect,' he said. 'I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally).'