As a lover of all Disney movies, the upcoming live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” set to hit theaters March 17, is something I’ve been looking forward to for months. It will still include the famous songs from the original, as well as the dark storyline and happy ending.
Unlike the original movie, it will also include what many are calling a “gay moment.”
Bill Condon, director of the film and an openly gay man, told Attitude magazine that “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.” He also revealed that there will be a “payoff” at the end of the film for LeFou’s character, leading many to believe that there will be a confirmed homosexual relationship displayed on screen.
The first I heard of this story was actually from one of my very, very conservative Facebook friends, a mother of four who was looking forward to taking her children to the movie when it came out. She posted a link to a story about it on Yahoo telling parents to “beware” of the film and how disappointed she was in this choice by Disney.
I’m used to this specific friend’s very strong held views, but this one caught me off guard. Shouldn’t be parents be willing to talk to their children about this, for lack of a better term, “issue” and not sheltering their children from what’s happening in the world?
My friend is not alone in her views. The group One Million Moms posted an article recently shaming an episode of an animated Disney channel show. The episode showed a crowd of couples kissing at a concert in sync with the band’s song. One couple was two girls, and the group immediately began a pledge against Disney, saying, “I do not agree with the LGBT agenda you are pushing on families and children. You will not have my support as long as you continue to veer away from family-friendly entertainment.”
One Million Moms also briefly mentioned in that article the “Beauty and the Beast” debacle, ending with, “Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid mature and controversial topics.”
Here’s a clip of Lefou and Gaston:
Many LGBT groups and individuals have urged Disney for years to be more inclusive with their characters. In early May the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend began trending on Twitter—a movement calling for Disney to make Elsa an openly gay character in the “Frozen” sequel.
The Washington Post’s article in response to this outcry pointed out some of the opinions held by those tweeting the hashtag: “It would have been a huge help for [Disney fans] to see gay characters in movies when they were young — that they might have become more sensitive and accepting towards gay peers, or better able to grapple with their own sexuality. Studies have suggested that seeing gay characters in popular entertainment can decrease prejudice towards those groups.”
The Post’s article also points out that children’s entertainment companies also need to make money—and the best way to make the most money is to avoid controversial material. But what progress is ever made if companies refuse to address controversial topics?
Disney is a company that has worked hard in the past few years to make sure they are representing people of all kinds, specifically in regards to race and gender. I’m proud of them for being able to take the plunge, so to speak, and deliver content that is more inclusive to the LGBT community.
When I raise you, I hope to be able to share moments of discovery and learning that allow us to talk about real issues and topics in our world. That’s the only way we’ll be able to be kinder, more sympathetic human beings.