Welcome to the Neighborhood led homophobic man to embrace his new neighbors and his gay son
What happens when people overreact and a network caves to that pressure? In the case of Welcome to the Neighborhood, a series that let a neighborhood choose a family to move into a free house, ABC cancelled the show before it ever aired.
But as a report in the Austin-American Statesman shows, the show “changed lives and united families.”
Much of the controversy was over a homophobic man, Jim Stewart, who was shown in previews saying, “I would not tolerate living next door to homosexuals.” The Wright family ultimately won series, which may be surprising because they are a gay couple who have an adopted black child. But as the show progressed, Stewart grew close with them.
And as it turns out, one of Jim Stewart’s sons, Jason, is gay (a fact neither the producers nor his neighbors were aware of), and Stewart’s experience on the show led him to strengthen his relationship with his son. Jim Stewart says that after growing to know the Wrights, he called his son. “I told him, ‘Dad was wrong. I’m sorry.’ I might have gone forever like I was without the Wrights.”
Last week, Jim Stewart even spoke “at a vigil protesting the proposed Texas constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage,” the paper reports.
Steve Wright says, “I was shocked somebody could start where Jim did and wind up where he did. It affirms your faith in human nature.” His partner, John Wright, said the community “really took some knocks, and I hope people will realize that was unfair. These are warm, kind, wonderful people who really want to be with us. The show is over. They don’t have to be like this now.” Last week, the couple finally moved into the new home they won on the show.
Despite all of this, ABC “refuses to schedule the show or talk about it,” according to the Statesman. In August, Variety reported that ABC “is still brainstorming about ways to present the show.”