Disney’s inclusion of gay characters in its live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” should serve as an example to all producers of entertainment.
The Editorial Board applauds Disney’s representation of LeFou as an average supporting role rather than making the character a spectacle.
The film follows the story of Belle, who falls in love with a prince cursed to appear as a monster. Belle, being the most beautiful girl in the village, is also pursued by an evil military captain named Gaston. LeFou, the gay character, is the loyal sidekick to Gaston. While LeFou does express some affection toward Gaston, his character is never stereotypically flamboyant, which can be common in portrayals of gay characters.
For example, the popular ABC show “Modern Family” received criticism from actor Tuc Watkins for portraying the gay couple on the show as stereotypically effeminate, according to a Feb. 2, 2016, Huffington Post article. Both gay characters on “Modern Family” often demonstrate feminine characteristics and are overly dramatic.
This movie is the first time Disney is confirming that one of its characters is gay. While there can be speculation about previous characters being gay or representing the LGBTQ community in some way, this is the first time that a director of a Disney production has confirmed it. Director Bill Condon said LeFou is confused about his feelings for Gaston and is just realizing he has them, which adds depth to the character and brings about the “exclusively gay moment” at the end of the film, according to a March 4, USA Today article.
In the original animated film, LeFou is a purely evil sidekick, but in the live-action version, the character has more dimension. LeFou struggles with staying loyal to Gaston despite his cruel actions toward others and by the end of the film decides he is not on Gaston’s side. The Editorial Board feels the added depth to LeFou’s character makes him more than just a token character.
Many who have seen the film consider the few “gay moments” as “much ado about nothing,” according to a March 20, USA Today article. The moment that caused an Alabama theater, the Henagar Drive-In, to ban the film comes at the end of the film when — spoiler alert — LeFou dances with another man, according to a March 6, CNN article. It is doubtful this particular scene stood out to the thousands of children and adults who went to see the movie unless they specifically looked for it.
While it is difficult to determine the exact number of members in the LGBTQ community because of changing definitions and ill-worded surveys, the number is approximated to be 9 million, according to a 2011 William’s Institute research study.
In a time of such an overwhelming sense of community, the Editorial Board believes proper representation within the media should not be difficult or as rare as it is. Other entertainment organizations should follow the example of Disney and incorporate members of the LGBTQ community into their productions by placing them in roles they would put any other person in.
We feel proper representation comes from fluid inclusion rather than the singling out of a certain demographic to exploit their identity.