James Woods is standing by his controversial comments about a 10-year-old “gender creative” boy and his supportive parents, telling his critics, “I frankly don’t give a s— what anybody thinks about me.”
The 70-year-old actor received a wave of backlash on Twitter Monday after he tweeted a photo of the California family at the Orange County Pride Parade — the young boy holding a rainbow flag and his parents bearing posters that read, “I love my gender creative son!” and “My son wears dresses & makeup… Get over it!!”
“This is sweet,” Woods wrote. “Wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you’ve done, and stuffs both of you dismembered into a freezer in the garage.”
His words were immediately criticized from some of Hollywood’s most outspoken stars, including out actor Neil Patrick Harris — who wrote, “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.”
While that might have been enough to spark an apology, Woods instead doubled down on his critiques on Wednesday — explaining that “using one’s child as a social justice propaganda doll is tantamount to child abuse.”
“Some children can be ruthlessly cruel to children who are simply different in any way,” Woods wrote. “I humbly suggest making your child a target is unwise.”
He addressed the critiques of homophobia he’s received, saying, “This is not about homophobia. Nice try though…”
“For the record I have supported human rights of all stripes and persuasions, colors, creeds, choices and preferences my entire life. Period.” he added. “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.”
Woods also made it clear he wasn’t defending himself with his tweetstorm. “This is not a defense,” he wrote. “I’m old enough to remember the agony friends suffered for being different. Being wrongly accused of anything is vile.”
And if there was any question as to whether Woods has internalized the negativity he’s received, his final tweet about the matter cleared that right up. “And of course the final word on all of this is that I frankly don’t give a s— what anybody thinks about me.”
Meanwhile as Woods continues to hold his ground, the mother in the family photo spoke to PEOPLE about Woods’ insensitivity and the experience she and her husband have had had raising their son.
Lori Duron, mom to 10-year-old CJ, said seeing the tweet was “shocking” — explaining that Woods was “hugely misinformed.”
“We’ve spent seven years sharing our journey to the public,” she said, referring to her blog, RaisingMyRainbow.com. “LGBTQ youth don’t hurt their parents, they hurt themselves. 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.”
“I feel like adults should know better,” she added.
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CJ is not transgender, Duron said, and insists that he’s a boy but wants to be treated like a girl. “He likes girl things, but he also prefers male pronouns,” she revealed. “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.”
And while CJ is unaware of Woods’ tweet, he still regularly receives hate mail and threats — which have only intensified since Woods spoke out.
“Our village and the LGBTQ community has really rallied around us within the last 24 hours,” she said. “I put out some emails for advice, and they closed in with support. Also, we try to remember that we’re sharing our journey for the sake of other families like ours. This isn’t about us, this is about the LGBTQ community.”
She added: “My kids are my number one priority, but I also remember that there are other kids and families that feel unsafe and alone.”
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As for her son, he’s still reveling in his amazing experience at the Orange County Pride Parade, which took place on June 24.
“He told me the other night before bed that that was his best day ever,” Duron said. “That’s what we’re focusing on. Sometimes people can’t tell if he’s a boy or a girl, and they whisper and point. He went to Pride and he wasn’t dealing with whispering or pointing.
“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.”