‘Beauty and the Beast’ Will Feature Disney’s First Openly Gay Character
Slowly but surely, Disney is becoming a little more woke. With last year’s politically-minded (and now Oscar-winning) Zootopia, announcements of Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie and first black superhero movie, and making Ava DuVernay the first woman of color to helm a $100 million movie, the studio is adding diversity to their roster little by little. Now the studio has finally decided to feature their first openly gay character in not just any movie, but a remake of a Disney classic.
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon revealed in an interview with British magazine Attitude that in his live-action remake Josh Gad‘s LeFou will be portrayed as openly gay. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told the magazine. (But like, who wouldn’t feel such confusion towards total hunk Gaston?) Condon shared a bit more about LeFou’s attraction:
He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.
Of course we haven’t seen the movie yet, so it remains to be seen just how well it handles queer representation. But the fact that the film is directed by Condon, who is openly gay, and features openly gay stars Ian McKellan and Luke Evans, is reassuring. This also marks a big step for Disney since the studio had yet to feature an explicitly gay character.
Disney has lightly dabbled in queer representation in recent years – and I say dabbled because it happens in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. In Frozen a minor gay character had a same-sex family, Finding Dory maybe-sorta-kinda featured a lesbian couple (I honestly didn’t notice it when I saw it), and Zootopia also had a very slight reference to a possible same-sex couple. Those tiny moments show slivers of progress, but LGBTQ visibility shouldn’t be relegated to subtext; since the beginning of cinema queerness has been forced into the closet.
Although Disney still has a long way to go – the studio featured zero LGBTQ characters in 2015 according to GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index – Gad’s queer LeFou is something to celebrate. Next how about a Disney movie with a lead LGBTQ person of color? And why not give us a Marvel movie with a queer superhero while they’re at it? Beauty and the Beast opens March 17.