Disney has always had a complicated history with the LGTBQ+ community. It reached a boiling point

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Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke about — but did not condemn — Florida’s controversial parental rights-in-education bill, which critics dubbed “Don’t t Say Gay”. Although he expressed some opposition to the bill, Chapek said a corporate statement on the issue would be ineffective. Instead, Chapek said Disney’s “miscellaneous stories” serve as more appropriate antidotes to legislation, which prohibits teachers from instructing children in grades three and below about LGBTQ+ issues.
Furious employees staged walkouts and Chapek apologized. Disney later halted donations to politicians who supported the bill.

This is far from the first time Disney has clashed with the LGBTQ+ community.

Going back to the days of Walt Disney, the company portrayed some prominent queer characters. Instead, LGBTQ+ audiences have adopted various evil queens and villains as their own, said Sean Griffin, author of “Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out.”

With the arrival of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1984, the studio adjusted its strategy to make gestures towards the LGBTQ+ consumer – but not in a way that might “aggravate the conservative, family-righteous values ​​audience it also wanted. hang on,” argued Griffin.

The result is “a strategy of trying to appeal to both sides and not alienating or insulting either side,” Griffin said.

Critics say Disney didn’t do enough in its portrayal. Disney has received a “failing” or “poor” rating every year since 2014 from GLAAD in the media watchdog organization’s report on LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Griffin, who is also a professor of film and media arts at Southern Methodist University, added that Disney has recently received a lot of publicity about various Disney movies with openly gay characters. However, these moments tend to be “blink and you’ll miss it” type.

The two most prominent examples are the character LeFou dancing with another man in the 2017 live-action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and two female Resistance fighters quickly embracing with a kiss at the end of ‘Star Wars’. : Rise of Skywalker” from 2019.

Both moments have been criticized for not being true acts of representation. Even Josh Gad, who played LeFou, said last month that the moment “didn’t go far enough to merit praise.”

“He often tries to give a nodding representation – a representation that could probably be appreciated by someone looking for it, but could be missed by people who might be disturbed or traumatized by seeing what they feel like a inappropriate content,” Griffin said.

Disney did not immediately respond to request for comment on this story.

Complex story

Yet one could hardly say disney (SAY) is not at all inclusive.

Even though Disney’s main family entertainment product hasn’t been blatant in its portrayal of gay characters, ABC — which is owned by Disney — has done so with TV shows like “Modern Family” and “Ellen.” In fact, “Ellen” had the first gay main character on TV in 1997.

Disney has also had many gay employees.

So the problem for Disney and Chapek right now, according to Griffin, is that the CEO “always seems to be trying to play the ’80s playbook, trying to walk a tightrope not to offend either side.”

Disney employees stage walkouts over company's response to campaign

“You can’t say, ‘I don’t want to take sides,’ because people say, ‘By refusing to choose sides, you’ve chosen a side,'” he said. “Chapek thought he was working on an old strategy, and it looks like it didn’t work.”

Following the events of the last few weeks, it seems that House of Mouse still has work to do to mend the fences inside and outside the company.

On Tuesday, some employees planned a full-day strike to protest the company’s response to Florida’s controversial bill. It is not known how many employees are participating.
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