Here’s what Disney needs: A gay character, and now it has got one in its new film Beauty and the Beast! This will be Disney’s first openly gay character, and will be played by Josh Gad, who will be essaying the role of LeFou in the film. Well, kudos to Disney and to Josh Gad for setting an example for the rest of the world. The film will also see Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the titular roles of, well, the Beauty and the Beast respectively.
This is not the first time Disney will be pushing in a gay subplot into one of its films. As the culture critics have dubbed Frozen, and its protagonist, Elsa, as queer it begs to ask the question: is Disney consciously incorporating LGBT-friendly subtexts into the films under its banner? The answer seems to be largely in the positive since Disney is known as progressive when it comes to being gay-friendly.
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend, a Twitter campaign has called for Disney to just give us what we want, a gay, feminist, and strong-willed female character that can be a role model for generations to come for Frozen 2. While it did so with Brave and its curly-haired Merida, Disney still idealised a heterosexual relationship. The movie studio has done its bit by incorporating prince and princesses of colour, but will it go ahead and now incorporate a homosexual character?
While Frozen has fleeting instances that hint at the queer lifestyle, Disney’s Zootopia brings the issue out in a much more forthcoming manner. When Judy moves into her new apartment, she meets her neighbours - Pronk and Bucky - two male antelopes living together. They always squabble - a trait known of married couples. While, to the unassuming audience, it may seem that they’re just flatmates, it is not until the closing credits that one’s suspicions are answered: they share the same last name, Oryx-Antlerson.
Disney has always been tolerant towards those who identify as queer. Take for example the fact that Disney offered its gay employees their partners health insurance benefits all the way back in 1995. Since 1991, Disney World has also hosted a number of gay-pride events.
Disney’s celebrated lyricist Howard Ashman, of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid fame, was known to be gay. He died of AIDS in 1991.
At the end of Beauty and the Beast, Disney acknowledged their openly gay, late lyricist: Howard Ashman. To our friend Howard Ashman who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.
However, in Donald Trump’s “great” America, the wave currently being surfed is that of homophobia and xenophobia. By electing the poster boy for the aforementioned phobias, America has made one thing clear: anyone who is not a heterosexual, white, and a radical republican is not welcome. So, no matter what campaign Twitter calls for for Frozen 2, Disney has a lot to be proud of already with this new of a gay character in Beauty and the Beast.