"Fixer Upper" stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have attracted millions of fans and built an empire with their down-home charm and opposites-attract chemistry. But the HGTV stars found themselves in hot water last November after a BuzzFeed article called them out for attending a church where the pastor "takes a hard line against same-sex marriage and promotes converting LGBT people into being straight."
The post went on to wonder if the Texas-based home renovation experts were themselves anti-LGBT.
Now, Chip Gaines has finally responded with his own blog post. Though it doesn't directly address BuzzFeed's article, the post vows to "change the conversation" in 2017, and urges people of all stripes to treat each other "with dignity and with love."
"This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can't recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred," wrote Gaines, who went on to say he and Joanna would not allow themselves to be "baited" into "using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world."
"A house divided cannot stand," wrote the star.
"Joanna and I have personal convictions," Gaines continued. "One of them is this: We care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith."
Those things are "fascinating," he wrote, but "cannot add or take away from the reality that we're already pulling for you."
"Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders. We want to help initiate conversations between people that don’t think alike," he wrote, adding that people don't always have to agree with each other. "Disagreement is not the same thing as hate, don’t believe that lie."
"We propose operating with a love so real and true that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside the very people that are most unlike you," he wrote. "Fear dissolves in close proximity. Our stereotypes and vain imaginations fall away when we labor side by side."
"This is how a house gets unified," concluded Gaines. "Think about it for a minute. This could be one of the greatest restoration stories of all time."