With Florida recently passing the massively bigoted and polarizing Don’t Say Gay bill, Disney has found themselves directly in the midst of a political firestorm, with ultra-conservative politicians and their ilk (Governor DeSantis of Florida in particular) passing a bill to remove Disney’s self-governing status. While Disney as a corporation has remained silent this week (possibly weighing their own legal options), LGBTQ employees and allies at Pixar Animation studios sent a joint statement last month to Disney leadership alleging that executives at Disney had deliberately censored “overtly gay affection” in its feature films. While Pixar films like Coco and Encanto definitely had characters that many feel were portrayed like they possibly were LGBTQ, it seems to have taken this statement to help craft true change at Pixar, from the inside.
In the upcoming Pixar film Lightyear (the origin story of Toy Story hero Buzz Lightyear) Uzo Aduba voices the character of Hawthorne, who is due to have a prominent role in the film, and is also in a relationship with a woman. According to Variety, a kiss between the women was initially cut from the film, but after the passing of the “Dont Say Gay” bill has promptly been reinstated. Producer Galyn Sussman spoke about the kiss recently to /Film and said “We’ve always had the lesbian couple. They’ve always been a part of the film. Being able to put back the kiss was important to us. It’s a touching moment”. She went on to say that when Buzz sees his partner sharing that kiss, he takes stock of his own life. Sussman said “It’s the life that’s being lived in front of him by his best friend that he’s not having,” she continued. “He doesn’t have those kinds of relationships. He doesn’t have a child. He doesn’t have what she has. And so it was important for us to get that back in there.”
Incorporating this same-sex kiss back into Lightyear is truly a game changer in terms of visibility and LGBTQ inclusion in Pixar/Disney films. While Pixar’s 2020 short film “Out” featured the first gay main character, other Pixar films ended up having LGBTQ moments cut prior to their release. The director of Luca, Enrico Casarosa, spoke with The Wrap earlier this year about the LGBTQ themes of the film and confirmed that Casarosa said that they “talked about” the possibility of Luca and Alberto’s relationship becoming a romantic one. Additionally, films like Black Panther & Nimona both had same-sex elements that didnt make it to the final cut of the respective films.
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