Out HGTV Star Defends Hosting Salvation Army Fundraiser
Openly gay HGTV star David Bromstad responded to backlash that he's hosting a Salvation Army fundraiser on his Facebook on Monday, but the hunky designer recently spoke with the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus, defending his decision to host the Oct. 18 event.
"I know why people are mad at me and I'm OK with that," said the "Color Splash" host. "We knew it was going to be a little bit controversial with the Salvation Army, but we did some research and we felt the Salvation Army was trying to clean up its act and make amends toward the LGBT community."
The Salvation Army has come under fire for years by LGBT rights activists for its history of anti-gay behavior. It's been reported that the Christian organization has turned down homeless LGBT people, and others have claimed they were discriminated against in the hiring process.
According to the Miami Herald, officials from the Salvation Army apologized after its media relations director in Australia said in 2011 that gay people should be put to death.
"We acknowledge that because of our size and scope, occasionally one of our millions of employees and volunteers might say or do something that does not reflect our values. We address these incidents as soon as they arise," a statement on the organization's website reads. "The Salvation Army believes that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor, including race, gender and ethnicity."
Bromstad intends to host the Red Shield ReDesign Bash in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 18, despite the controversy, and says that members of the Broward, Fla., chapter of the Salvation Army "reached out to us with a hand, with an olive branch."
"This was our chance and this was my chance to reach our hand back, to extend the hand from the LGBT community and let's engage and teach and train. We need to support and educate and love one another," the designer told the Miami Herald. Bromstad wouldn't reveal how much he is getting paid for hosting the fundraiser, but said he will donate some money to a number of LGBT nonprofits, such as Safe Schools South Florida.
After it was announced Bromstad, 40, would be hosting the Salvation Army event, he was hit with backlash. On Sept. 28 he took to his Facebook to defend himself:
"I’ve read your feedback on my participation with The Salvation Army USA, as an openly gay person who just happens to also be a celebrity, I took the Salvation Army’s request to participate in their fundraiser as one step in the right direction towards equality," he wrote. "If we simply separate ourselves from those that we assume oppose us or our beliefs then we will never make strides in the right direction. I applaud the Salvation Army’s symbolic handshake towards acceptance and would be foolish to not extend my hand in acceptance."
His post sparked several users to reply to his statement. As of this writing his post has over 2,600 likes and 64 shares.
"You’re rewarding bad behavior. You’re saying it’s ok. It’s not. Take a stand," one of the post’s top comments reads. "The bridge would be built if the SA changes their policies in favor of LGBTQ, but I don’t see this happening here. You could do this on the condition that the SA provides specific statements inclusive of LGBTQ, but the recent history shows that the SA have condemned gays. You lost me as a fan... one of the many people who have helped you reach your ’celebrity’ status."
Though the designer was hit with a number of negative comments, some defended him:
"Way to go David! If we respond to every hateful action done towards us with hate then we’ll just all fall down" one user writes. "Responding w kindness towards someone who treats you as an enemy is one step of making them your friend."
Watch a clip of Bromstad below: