Disney’s gay representation isn’t enough

Despite being praised for it, Disney's gay representation is subpar at best.

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A collage of different headlines, all about a "first gay character" from Disney.

Amelia Foster, A&E Editor, Multimedia Editor

If I have to see another “Disney’s first gay character” headline I’m going to scream. That line appears like clockwork nearly every time Disney releases a movie, whether it was because of the 0.1 second kiss scene in the very background of Star Wars: The Last Skywalker, or the possible lesbian moms from Finding Dory, who were also never focused on. No matter how many times this headline has appeared, there’s one thing in common with the gay characters: it’s bad representation.

It’s 2020, and LGBT people deserve more than blink-and-you’ll-miss-it representation, especially from a mega corporation like Disney. Children who are watching Disney content need to understand that gay people can be the hero of the story, because a lack of representation is what breeds hate and distrust. Avengers: Endgame was supposed to be the biggest movie of 2019, yet their gay character was an unnamed man who mentioned that he went on a date with someone with male pronouns, and then his character disappears after 20 seconds. When the “first gay character” remains unnamed and isn’t integral to the plot, they aren’t actually a character at all, they’re just a throwaway headline meant for good press.

Disney doesn’t just have throwaway characters too, they also have gay characters who are ugly trolls and fools. Whether it is LeFou from 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, whose name translates into “the fool,” or the new character from Onward, who is a beast with one eye and a horn. I understand that all the characters from Onward are supposed to be magical creatures, but it’s convenient that the rest look cool and vaguely humanoid while the gay character is quite clearly a monster.

To make matters worse, Disney recently moved the new show Love, Victor that is centered around a gay teenager from Disney+ to Hulu, claiming that the themes are too mature for a family network—as if The Simpsons doesn’t frequently portray alcohol and sexuality. Disney’s allyship is blatantly shallow, all too willing to include bad representation while discarding characters that could actually make a difference.

Gay representation isn’t something that can be included for brownie points, it’s something that should take time and effort to make sure it’s done right. Disney isn’t doing the LGBT community any favors with their work so far, and considering that they produced 40 percent of 2019’s box office, they need to be better.