In the wake of Florida’s anti-gay “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney has come under scrutiny for its numerous contributions to politicians who supported and voted for the measure. With a series of statements, Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney, implied that the firm will promote LGBTQ+ rights through their “inspiring material,” rather than simply donating money to politicians that want to oppress gay and transgender people. While you can’t say “gay,” you can watch Josh Gad’s Le Fou in Beauty and the Beast make eye contact with another man for three seconds.
An open letter from Pixar’s LGBTQIA employees and allies, on the other hand, presents a very different story. It claims that Disney often edits or removes queer characters and content from its films. Disney denies the allegations made in the letter. “We at Pixar have witnessed wonderful stories, full with diverse people, come back from Disney corporate reviews chopped down to crumbs of what they once were,” they wrote in the statement. Overtly gay affection is frequently omitted from Pixar films at the request of Disney, despite of the protests of both Pixar’s creative teams and its corporate leadership. To reform discriminatory laws around the world, we are being prevented from making LGBTQIA+ content. When it comes to inspiring content, we need to do more than just talk about it. We need action.”
“We are calling on Disney leadership to immediately remove all financial support from the legislators behind the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, to clearly repudiate this legislation publicly, and to make restitution for their financial involvement,” reads an open letter from the LGBT community. They accuse Disney of duplicity in their support for LGBTQ+ people through words rather than actions. It continues: “Disney attempted to satisfy all sides—and did not denounce ugly sentiments presented during the question and answer phase of the conference. They did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.” To “unequivocally support our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities,” this is not what it means.
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As of this writing, Chapek has backtracked on his previous words, saying that he would meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and pledge $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ organizations. HRC interim president Joni Madison stated, “The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill, do not become dangerous laws.” The HRC has refused the donation.
She added, “While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida—including hardworking families employed by Disney—today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”