The Great American Family Network, which is positioning itself as a conservative Christian alternative to Hallmark, has apologized to a viewer who objected to a commercial for HIV medication on one of its programs.
The cable channel is also getting heat for the airing of an ad for RuPaul's Drag Race and is saying that was a local ad, like the one for the HIV med, and it has no control over local commercials.
Actress Alexandra Billings, who is transgender and living with HIV, shared an Instagram post in which a viewer under the name straighttalkwithmj wrote, "Love the movies! But have you removed the very non-family friendly aids drug ad with 2 men kissing?"
Great American Family responded, "Unfortunately, we don't have any control over local commercials, and we sincerely apologize."
Billings, tagging the cable channel, commented, "I have been living with HIV for over thirty years now. I buried most of my friends in my twenties and I live with an illness that gets more and more difficult to manage and navigate with each passing year. The stigma of this disease is alive and well, as long as there are humans who attempt to pass off misinformation, fear or ignorance as normal conversation and acceptable social behavior."
She pointed out the stigma suffered by people with HIV or AIDS, especially early in the epidemic, with funeral homes even afraid to handle the remains of those who died.
"I'm not assigning blame," she added. "And I'm not trying to suggest this is all of who you are. Your channel professes love tolerance, and family and I simply don't see any of those attributes in your response to this viewer."
Great American Family has also received anti-LGBTQ+ comments on its Facebook page. One commenter asked why it was allowing commercials for RuPaul's Drag Race to air as early as 6 p.m. "We're trying to escape that mess," wrote the commenter. Great American Family responded that it has no control over local commercials.
Another commenter asked who does have control. "We have been subject to this perverted immoral commercials on what is supposed to be a family friendly channel," he wrote (his original wording). Great American Family told him to contact his local cable provider. Some commenters objected to vaccine commercials as well.
Great American Family's so-called friendliness does not extend to LGBTQ+ families. One of the channel's stars, conservative Christian actress Candace Cameron Bure, was recently asked if Great American Family's romance movies would include same-sex couples. She responded that the channel would emphasize "traditional marriage."
The Advocate has sought comment from Great American Family and Billings and will update this story if we receive any response.