A Look at Disney’s LGTBQ characters Pt. 1: LeFou (2017)
Representation Matters and if you disagree with that, you can leave now. I’ve made my being bisexual no secret and it is something that may seem small but discovering that truth helped shed light on an important part of my life. If you are reading this, you obviously know that I am a fan of Disney. I bring this up because today I am starting a series that I have been hoping to do. Originally, this was going to be one long article but unlike how some films/tv shows, I’d prefer to give these characters their own spotlight. And now unlike other blogs I do, I will include Marvel and Star Wars characters. Not that they get much to do. So, who are we kicking this series off with? LeFou from the 2017 remake. He is not the first LGTBQ character from the company as there is a lesbian couple that came before him in 2014 but I am starting with him because he is perhaps one of the more recognizable LGTBQ+ characters.
I went over this last summer when I reviewed this movie during Remake Month and saying that I hated this. As I mentioned in that review, director Bill Condon promised that there’d be an exclusively gay moment. And well, here it is.
Well, there it is. LeFou dancing with a man that he is attracted to, which comes at the end of the movie. The fact that this was that exclusively gay moment is just this and comes at the end of the movie is something that over time has infuriated me. There is no issue with taking an established character such as LeFou and making them gay. The issue however comes with how it is handled. Which in my opinion is handled rather poorly, it is handled. Some may say the subtly is nice but if you promise people a gay character, they don’t want subtly. That doesn’t mean to be over-the-top and engage in outdated and harmful stereotypes but at least I dunno let LeFou be allowed to say that he’s gay or have feelings for Gaston. Apparently, Josh Gad pushed for LeFou to be gay. (Straight actors playing LGTBQ roles is a rather divisive topic, which I am iffy on).
“It was my pitch, that’s how I really wanted the movie to end. I was so amazed they let us do it.
“That became such a controversial thing, apparently, even though it was only three seconds of screen time.
On the one hand, I appreciate Gad pushing for the character and the scene but as he himself points out, it was only three seconds of screentime. That is the equivalent of handing someone a bag of candy when there is only one piece left. It is an empty gesture. If people want the LGTBQ+ community to feel welcomed, they can’t expect us to eat up the smallest morsels. As he states, this became a controversial thing, which is ridiculous because the representation is basically non-existent. I recall reading when this movie was prepping to come out, reading of a drive-in that refused to play the movie because of LeFou being gay. And of course, it was in Alabama. Here’s the statement they released.
We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches,” the Henagar Drive-In said in a Facebook post Thursday night. “You can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.”
Okay, I am not defending the movie but I am so tired of people thinking the Bible can be used as a shield to hide their homophobia. No.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
Or to put it another way from the musical, The Prom
You can’t cherry-pick the bible, choosing which part you wanna believe
So many homophobes seem to forget this part and the fact that such an awful movie is somewhere this lesson needs to be taught is exhausting. Especially when the owner of the drive-in wasn’t mad at the movie itself but rather what he had heard reported of the movie. It is his choice not to play movies that feature gay characters but I don’t have to agree with it and call it stupid, which I think it is. I am more upset at the movie however for how it dropped the ball in introducing an LGTBQ+ character to the mainstream Disney audience. It is honestly a little embarrassing how quickly the ball is dropped. There could have been something here but no, it doesn’t work.
I mentioned subtly earlier and one could argue that Bill Condon put in little moments but as this Bustle excerpt highlights
I’m certainly not going to praise the director and cast for representing the gay community when they did so little to represent us. LeFou’s dance scene was further diminished by the fact that it wasn’t even “exclusively” gay. As Vulture pointed out, you could still see the other straight couples in the shot. This reduces LeFou’s “incredible moment” to really just a large celebration of mostly straight love with a same-sex couple thrown in.
This goes back to something that I’ve been harping on, either do the work and give us more than three seconds or don’t do it at all. I think that’s where I’m going to end things here but as I have made it clear, this was a rather poor attempt at introducing an LGTBQ+ character. Join me as we travel back a few years to 2014 and see how the Disney Channel sitcom handled introducing a lesbian couple as we look at the couple of Susan and Cheryl.