Earlier this week, actor and producer James Woods tweeted a picture of a family attending a Pride event, captioning it with some graphic choice words. The mom of 10-year-old “gender creative” CJ, the subjects of Woods’ aforementioned tweet, has since spoken out about the “troubling” post and is calling Woods’ reaction “hugely misinformed.”
Lori Duron, CJ’s mother, initially wrote about her family’s experience attending their first LGBTQ+ Pride event on her blog Raising My Rainbow. She also shared a photo from the event on social media which showed herself, her husband, and their son CJ decked out in rainbow attire and holding signs that read, “My son wears dresses and makeup...Get over it!” and “I (heart) my gender creative son.” The picture caught the attention of James Woods, who used the image to share anti-social justice rhetoric. Woods’ tweet warned Duron and her husband to “wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you've done,” saying CJ would want “dismember” his parents and “stuff them in a freezer.”
Actor, activist, and yet-to-be-confirmed actual angel Neil Patrick Harris responded to Woods’ tweet calling it, “Utterly ignorant and classless.” Harris, who is a friend of the family, also wrote, “You know not of what you speak, and should be ashamed of yourself.
Utterly ignorant and classless, Mr. Woods. I'm friends with this family. You know not of what you speak, and should be ashamed of yourself. https://t.co/ZrbtZH49sp— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) July 11, 2017
“The fact that it was so detailed, it’s really gross to me any time that adults talk about children that way,” Duron said in an interview with People.com. “And the visual image that he evoked was troubling.” Duron told People she saw Woods’ tweet Monday night after a friend defended the family on Facebook.
“We’ve spent seven years sharing our journey to the public,” Duron said, referring to her author blog, Raising My Rainbow. “We were on his radar, but he wasn’t on ours. It was shocking. I feel like adults should know better.” Duron went on to explain just how misinformed Woods’ vitriolic tweet was.
“LGBTQ youth don’t hurt their parents, they hurt themselves,” Duron told People. “We’re trying to raise our son in way that he doesn’t fall into those behaviors. His tweet was so uninformed. LGBTQ youth do not kill other people, they kill themselves.”
Youth people who are lesbian, gay, and bi are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, according to data from The Trevor Project. The suicide rate among trans people is disproportionately high, with 40 percent of people who are trans having attempted suicide. 92 percent of those attempts are made before age 25. Like Duron states, LGBTQ+ youth are a significant risk for suicide and self-harm. Inferences that detract from that statistics are, to use Duron’s words, “hugely misinformed.”
Woods has responded to criticism of his tweet and is standing by what he said. “Using one’s child as a social justice propaganda doll is tantamount to child abuse. This is not about homophobia. Nice try though,” he wrote in a series of tweets. “For the record I have supported human rights of all stripes and persuasions, colors, creeds, choices and preferences my entire life. Period. Some children can be ruthlessly cruel to children who are simply different in any way. I humbly suggest making your child a target is unwise.” He concluded, “I spent my entire adult life in the New York theatre scene, kids. I have more gay friends than Liberace. So let’s stop the homophobia train.”
Here’s your friendly reminder that “I have friends who are X” does not excuse or negate offensive and discriminatory comments you make about people who are X. You can know lots of women and still say sexist things. You can claim to be the least racist person, citing every friend of color you have, and still have implicit and explicit racial biases.
Despite Woods’ comments, Duron isn’t letting the negative remarks detract or deter the work she and her family are trying to do. “We’re trying to educate others about this and share our journey. We’re just parents trying to raise the child we got and not the child we expected,” Duron told People. Duron says she’s grateful for the positive and supportive responses she and her family have received in light of this recent attention. “People were telling him to never stop being who he was. He was getting so much positive feedback. He loved it, he made us promise that we’ll take him again next year.” Shine on, CJ. We will gladly bask in your glow.