The news might have slipped under the radar but the LGBTQIA community is furious. Love, Simon’s spin-off TV show: Love, Victor, has been pulled from Disney+ on the grounds of it being “not family-friendly” and moved to Hulu.
“Disney felt many issues explored in the show, including alcohol use and sexual exploration, would not fit in with the family-friendly content on Disney Plus ” – anonymous source
Disney has always been looked up to with high hopes for representation and diversity, and like all studios, it has excelled in some areas and disappointed in others. But to pull Love, Victor from Disney+ is taking steps in the wrong direction, especially for the reasons of being ‘not family-friendly’. This is the same streaming platform with Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars murdering toddlers and Homer Simpson as a full-blown alcoholic. Disney+ also includes their classic movies with racist caricatures (look to the Aristocats and Dumbo) and have warnings that they are “a product of their time” but a TV show about a gay boy isn’t considered family-friendly. The LGBTQIA deserves better.
Over the past several years, Disney has made headlines concerning LGBT representation but it is never anything substantial to be considered representation. At best it’s breadcrumbs, at it’s worse, it’s baiting.
Lefou from the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast back in 2017 was the first time a canon gay character was to be included in a Disney film. However, Lefou’s sexuality is more of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot when he is seen dancing in the final ball sequence with a man just before the credits roll. There are faint references to Lefou’s sexuality throughout the film, mainly with him having an unrequited crush on Gaston, and looking at him lonely from a distance, but what else can be said about it? Overall, it felt more like an exaggeration of what we saw back in the original animation, a villainous sidekick’s admiration for Gaston pumped higher but for nothing more than comic relief. From all the hype over Disney’s first LGBT representation, this just fell flat.
With Disney’s enormous fanbase and diverse audience, fans have pieced together themselves LGBT representation where they can find it, often creating more imaginative stories than the original films. Frozen fans have speculated Elsa possibly being lesbian, relating to her lyrics of the epic song ‘Let it Go’: “conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know/Well now they know!”. Li Shang from Mulan has been a fan favourite of being bisexual, seemingly having a crush on Mulan both as herself and Ping. Ursula from The Little Mermaid was inspired directly by the likeness and personality of drag queen Divine, which allows fans to look up to Ursula as a character of fluid gender. Merida from Brave was another lost opportunity of having a lesbian princess, with Merida rejecting the tradition of marriage and male suitors, she has gained a large gay and feminist following the movie’s success.
Finn and Poe’s relationship in the newest trilogy from Star Wars was a clear example of queerbaiting. In the first film of the trilogy ‘A Force Awakens’, the Stormtrooper Finn is shown in a series of scenes to have a romance with the rebel pilot Poe, a romance Poe appears to reciprocate. Through shots of their flirty looks, Poe giving Finn his jacket, this quickly caught fans’ attention, and desperately hoped for an onscreen gay romance to develop throughout the trilogy. Despite the actors playing Finn and Poe also pushing for this romance, Disney decided to give Finn a love interest with Rose Tico and kept Finn and Poe apart for almost the entire movie. Sadly, in the concluding Star Wars movie, Rise of Skywalker, fans were disappointed with the results of Finn and Poe’s relationship. This could have been a revolutionary first of on-screen romance for a franchise as big as Star Wars, and it is shocking Disney went against it.
This is not to say that Disney is homophobic but they have over the last few years displayed a patter of bahaviour to suggest that they want an LGBT audience and can create good characters and ideas around the subject, they leave breadcrumbs for the possibility but seems to be hesitant to commit to it. Who knows Disney will finally create a new, modern, animated fairy tale around an LGBTQIA character, we hope that it can inspire it’s global audience not to be ashamed of who they are, and this can push Disney into continuing to subverting expectations.