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Children all over the world have come to love the Disney characters with whom they've grown up and identified. While we are finally seeing characters like Elsa of Frozen and Merida of Brave who "don't need a man" being portrayed positively for young girls, we have yet to see a positive representation for a large segment of our population, the LGBTQ community.
While Disney's new live-action film Beauty and the Beast is staying fairly true to the original source material, Attitude magazine has discovered that the company will finally have their first canon Disney character come out as gay in a scene made specifically for the film.
Who is this character, you might ask? None other than everyone's favorite wacky villainous sidekick, LeFou, played by #JoshGad. Here he is with Luke Evans (Gaston), performing the most catchy villain's song in the Disney repertoire, "Gaston."
You may have watched the brief clip, with LeFou basically singing a love letter to his best friend-slash-idol, and wondered if there might not be more going on there than simple hero worship. If you have, turns out you were right.
Director Bill Condon addressed this change in story directly:
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. 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 pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
This is a huge step forward for Disney, who is inarguably the most influential entertainment company in the world. It opens up the doors for other companies, who may hold off from touching a storyline with an openly gay character, to realize that there is an audience for this. With the movie on track to have Disney's biggest March opening ever, it should shoot down any arguments that a gay subplot will turn audiences off or harm the bottom line at the box office. It's good for all types of love to be represented in blockbusters (and not just in films like this year's Best Picture winner, Moonlight). It doesn't have to be in your face, but a tender moment for a friend that wonders if there could be so much more if given a chance—and that being acknowledged—is both welcome and overdue in a Disney film.
It has been nearly 80 years since Disney first released its first in-color, feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it is a blessing to see them continue to make strides in their stories and break barriers. Maybe some day soon we will see a prince or princess get their happy ending with someone of the same sex. Until then, we'll continue watching and being excited for what Disney brings next.