UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Disney Dragging Feet on LGBTQ+ Representation

Lauren Kirksey, Opinions Writer

***If you would like to submit an opinion of your own, please contact [email protected]***

A scene from the new Pixar movie Onward is currently being hailed as Disney’s first “exclusively gay moment,” but to me this feels a little bit like déjà vu. In fact, Disney has claimed many firsts for gay representation in recent years: in 2017, Disney announced that their “first ever gay character” would be Josh Gad’s LeFou in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast; Avengers: Endgame, made by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, featured a brief cameo by co-director Joe Russo as “Marvel Studios’ first openly gay character”; and Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker featured a same-sex kiss, also a first for the Disney-owned Star Wars franchise, between two minor female characters. 

There’s a common thread in all of these “exclusively gay” moments; they’re barely-there, blink-and-you-miss moments involving minor or secondary characters that have little to no bearing on the plot. These scenes can also be easily removed in international markets that are less friendly towards the LGBTQ+ community. Onward’s Officer Specter, voiced by openly gay actress and writer Lena Waithe, hints at her sexuality in a brief line of dialogue that has already been censored in Russia; the word “girlfriend” was changed to “partner.” A similar tactic was used for the scene in Avengers: Endgame where Joe Russo’s character talks about dating a man. 

Disney’s pattern of sidelining LGBTQ+ characters and placing them in scenes that are easy to censor demonstrates a minimal effort at representation. It seems as if they are trying to score “woke points” without ruffling the feathers of more conservative crowds. If Disney is truly committed to telling more diverse and inclusive stories, they need to push the boundaries of representation instead of merely skirting around them. While LGBTQ+ characters don’t necessarily need to be defined by their sexuality or gender identity, Disney should be more willing to put them at the forefront of their films.

Disney’s television subsidiary seems to be making slightly more progress than their film division in this aspect. The Disney Channel original series Andi Mack made history last year by including an openly gay character in its main cast. There is also a gay character in the Disney Plus series High School Musical: The Musical: The Show. A spinoff series of the movie Love, Simon, about a gay teenager coming out to his friends and family, was planned for Disney Plus but moved to Disney-owned Hulu for themes deemed too mature for kids and audiences, namely “alcohol use and sexual exploration”. While the choice to move this particular show is questionable, especially since Disney Plus is home to many shows and movies that contain these “mature” themes (The Simpsons, recently acquired in the Fox merger, not to mention crude humor and violence in Marvel movies), the fact that it was considered for the streaming platform at least shows an attempt on Disney’s part to include more LGBTQ+ stories.

Additionally, one of the stars of the upcoming Marvel superhero movie The Eternals, Brian Tyree Henry, confirmed that his character Phastos would be openly gay and share a kiss with his onscreen husband. However, Disney still has a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. While gay characters and same-sex couples have already gotten a little bit of the spotlight, Disney has yet to include trans or nonbinary characters in any of their media. Hopefully they’ll start making bigger strides and, someday soon, LGBTQ+ characters and storylines won’t make headlines but will instead be widely accepted without a second thought.

__

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

About the Contributor
Navigate Left
  • (Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)

    Community

    Thanksgiving: The importance of gratitude

  • Miranda Padilla holds her 11-month-old son Grayson Sanchez while marking her ballot at a polling center in the South Valley area of Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

    Features

    Midterms 2022: How young voters did this time around

  • FILE - The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, Twitter continued to bleed engineers and other workers after new owner Elon Musk gave them a choice to pledge to “hardcore” work or resign with severance pay. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

    Features

    “Only time will tell”: The future of Twitter under Elon Musk

  • Leftwich at her graduation, receiving her Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition, photo courtesy of Jamisha Leftwich

    Features

    Professors before they were professors: Jamisha Leftwich

  • Entrance to Neckles’ Bless This House gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Jacksonville.

    Art

    MOCA artist Shervone Neckles shares the creative process behind her thought-provoking artwork

  • Joe Palmer and his book “A Mariner’s Tale” (Graphic by Spinnaker)

    Features

    “Follow your dreams, don’t stop”: Spinnaker alum lands movie deal

  • Limayem smiling, wearing a blue suit

    Features

    ‘A meaningful milestone’: Limayem marks 100 days as UNF’s seventh president

  • Jar of Flies album art by Alice in Chains

    Album Reviews

    Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains, an album review

  • Phones capture DeSantis and Luke Bryan on stage

    Concerts

    Country artist Luke Bryan brings tour to Jacksonville, DeSantis makes special appearance

  • I voted stickers in a roll

    Election Coverage

    Voting in Duval County this election? Here’s what you need to know

Navigate Right

Comments (0)

Spinnaker intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, slurs, defamation, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and will be removed if they do not adhere to these standards. Spinnaker does not allow anonymous comments, and Spinnaker requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All UNF Spinnaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest