How Disney is making (not enough?) progress in LGBT+ representation

With Onward, Disney made another step towards LGBT+ representation. It was voice actress Lena Waithe herself who came up with the idea to change her spoken lines to “girlfriend”. Immediately, the film was banned in several Middle Eastern countries, while Russia reworked “girlfriend” back into “partner”.
Twitter Icon Facebook Icon Share this

That one little word illustrates the obstacle Disney faces. Simply put, the company operates worldwide and not every country is equally positive about expressing love other than a heteronormative one. But also in countries where the LGBT+ emancipation is relatively progressive, religious-conservative groups still express their criticism regarding the film not being "family friendly". The mere presence of a lesbian character is immediately politicized.

To date, there has been no major or lead role in a Disney or Disney Pixar movie that was openly LGBT+. Since the release of Frozen, many hoped that the sequel would explicitly reveal the main character Elsa to be a lesbian. The popular hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend became a phenomenon on its own. However, the girlfriend many had hoped for was nowhere to be seen in Frozen II. Fans are now hoping, perhaps in vain, to see the icy queen paired up with a feminine flame in the third film.

Still, Disney is working on LGBT representation in the background. For example, in the span of a few seconds Finding Dory featured a lesbian couple with baby carriage and Le Fou (Gaston's sidekick in the remake of Beauty and the Beast) danced briefly with a man. As a result, that film was banned from a cinema in Alabama. But the steps are small and hardly noticeable.

Marvel, also part of the Walt Disney Company, seems to be more in a hurry with pushing LGBT+ characters to the forefront: There will be a movie with a transgender character. Also, 2021 will see the release of the movie Thor: Love and Thunder, where the character Valkyrie is said to have an “LGBT storyline”.

The Walt Disney company has also expressed it wants to continue their support for the LGBT+ community. There are special Pride events in their theme parks, but the company also wants increase representation in the film field. Earlier this month, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek said the company wants to represent its audience. Meanwhile, for LGBT+ people, it remains to be seen whether they will encounter a singing, royal character they can identify with.

Twitter Icon Facebook Icon Share this

Recommended articles