Disney’s gay problem

Stefan Carlson, Photos Editor

Stefan Carlson, Photos Editor

Stefan Carlson, Photos editor

In the recent live action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” (see pg. 5 for a film review) Lefou, Gaston’s lovable, dim-witted lackey is Disney’s first openly gay character. However, this is a problem. 

Not that Disney’s finally featuring openly LGBTQ characters, it is about time Disney started including more under-represented groups in their movies, but the issue here is that Lefou is a hollow caricature of gay men.

Here, we see a flamboyant and promiscuous Lefou desperately pining over the straight, machismo villain Gaston as his sexuality becomes the butt of almost every joke. 

Not only does this further the false assumption that all gay men fetishize straight guys, it also implies that gay men are a merely minor presence, worth nothing more than a quick laugh.

Disney is a cultural institution, and to have Lefou, whose name literally translates to ‘the fool,’ as the first instance of an openly gay character is a step backwards. To have children perhaps experience their first instance of a gay character, a possible model of what gay people are like, is particularly concerning.  

 

Not only does this further the false assumption that all gay men fetishize straight guys, it also implies that gay men are a merely minor presence, worth nothing more than a quick laugh.

 

It is also concerning to see people championing his inclusion as a victory for progress. In no way is it progressive to include a gay character to be mocked while the straight characters fall in love. It is a big step backward. 

Disney’s so-called representation of gay men is symptomatic of a bigger problem in pop culture and entertainment:

The way in which Hollywood represents minorities with stereotypes. 

Diversity is championed in Hollywood, yet no major Hollywood players seem to want to get involved. And when they do, it feels like part of a calculated strategy, a move to create buzz or appeal to progressive demographics. 

Disney especially has a history of taking advantage of minorities, using their stories and their backgrounds for context and flavor, while whitewashing them to make them appeal to a broader, straighter and whiter audience.

And the inclusion of Lefou is just a twist on the formula. By making its only gay character into a joke, Disney has revealed how it really feels about gay people.

We need to hold Disney accountable, and remind ourselves that this is not what progress looks like.