For those who are fans of Pixar or believe that Chris Evans is the superior Hollywood Chris, you know that the new film Lightyear features a kiss between the character Hawthorne and her wife. The scene was nearly cut from the film, which is disappointing but not surprising given the fact that Disney (which owns Pixar Animation Studios) often censors queer content in their films and tv shows. Ultimately the scene was included in the final cut, causing it to be banned in several countries and generating backlash from homophobes at home.
Disney has been around for decades, and though it has definitely evolved past “Uncle Walt’s” extremely close minded (let’s be honest: outright racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic) views, there is still ample room for improvement. But what has always gotten me about Disney is how it always pats itself on the back for its “first” queer representation. The company is so proud of itself that they do it with just about every piece of media they release featuring a queer person! Honestly at this point, it’s just amusing to me to see all of Disney’s “firsts.” Here are just a few of my personal favorites - be careful though! Blink and you’ll miss these characters, as their queerness on the screen tends to last approximately three seconds.
First up is Lefou from the live-action Beauty and the Beast. In the final number of the film, there is a group dance scene in which all the characters are dancing with each other, switching partners in time to the music. For a brief second Lefou switches partners and finds himself with another man. Lefou looks momentarily confused, and then the camera cuts to another couple. All in all, the clip is barely three seconds long and yet had homophobes reeling and media outlets applauding Disney’s “representation.”
My second favorite is definitely the two celebrating women from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Gotta love the space gays, right? These two Resistance fighters kiss in the background as everyone is celebrating a victory, and was celebrated as the first gay kiss in the Star Wars franchise. Yet once again, we barely know who these characters are. The irony of this is that there were two male characters - Finn and Poe - who were central to the sequel trilogy and had chemistry together. Fans of the saga, as well as the actors themselves, were very vocal about how the two should have ended up together; however, Disney’s censorship and fear of backlash would never allow for such a thing to happen.
The last one I’ll mention are these two women from Pixar’s Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo. This one really gets me for a couple different reasons. For one, the women are just pushing a stroller together for a brief moment. There is nothing explicitly queer about that. They don’t hug, kiss, or call each other “babe.” So why was this applauded as groundbreaking representation? Which brings me to my second point: people actually protested the movie because of that moment. Which is deeply ironic, given the fact that the voice of Dory is none other than Ellen DeGeneres. I distinctly remember seeing petitions to get the scene removed and others demanding that the film not be shown in theatres.
While at this point it’s just exhausting to see that Disney continually censors their creators for fear of backlash and hurting their own profits, it’s also somewhat amusing to see the lengths at which the company will (or won’t) go to earn a spot in the queer community’s good books. They happily capitalize off us during pride month, selling rainbow-clad mouse gear, but refuse to acknowledge our existence any other time of the year.