Disney Needs to Jump In the LGBTQ Pool, Not Just Dip Its Toe
With the release of the live adaptation Beauty & the Beast, there has been a lot of discussion about the fact that one of the characters being gay. Cue Spoiler Alert Warning.
In an interview with Attitude Magazine, director Bill Condon stated that the character LeFou (Josh Gad) would be portrayed as gay and would have an "exclusive gay moment". While speculation swirled about what this might entail, the announcement caused some controversy which led to expected boycotts and adult ratings from Singapore, Russia, Kuwait and an Alabama Drive-In Theatre owned by backwards thinking morons.
But after all the controversy and hype from its director, Beauty & the Beast's "gay moment" was much ado about nothing. It was simply a brief moment before the end credits showing LeFou dancing with another man.....that's it....dancing.
While many cheered this moment, many others dismissed it, calling it overblown. For me however, I'm actually a bit angered by it. Because it's another example of Disney trying to include the LGBTQ community without ruffling any costly feathers. For a company that lauds themselves for the progress they think they've made, they've actually done about as little as possible. In fact, in recent interviews both Condon and Gad have started to walk back on LeFou's sexuality.
Yes, there is a gay character in Beauty & the Beast, but that is confirmed in an all too-quick-you-could-miss-it moment. Seriously, don't blink, you'll miss it. This also isn't the first Disney's done this.
Remember the "Two Moms" moment in Finding Dory? I don't blame you if you can't because it's hardly visible either. The couple is shown for a brief second before the camera abruptly shifts away. What about Modern Family? Disney's #1 rated TV show featured a gay couple from its pilot episode but it took entire season and lots of complaints before they had a quick peck with each other. More recently, there was an animated same-sex kiss on the cartoon show Star vs. the Forces of Evil, but that was also quickly glossed over.
Disney's attitude seems to be that acknowledging that gay people exist in their universes, is enough. While this might have been seen as progressive in the 1970's-90's, for 2017, it's archaic.
Now some might say that Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ pride. Yes, there are "Gay Days" at Disney parks. But these events aren't sponsored or sanctioned by the company. Even if they did sponsor it, these would be isolated events within their theme parks risking very little to their brand. But even that seems to be too risky for Disney right now.
There are very few companies on this planet that can change an entire conversation with the stroke of a pen. If Disney ever truly got behind LGBTQ issues and awareness, think of how much impact that could make.
But for now, instead of diving into that pool headfirst, one of the largest corporations in the world would rather timidly bounce on the diving board.