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Disney’s First Gay Character Is Officially Here!

Disney's first queer character debuts in the live-action "Beauty and the Beast."
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Well, it’s finally happened, and no one was prepared: Disney has announced its first gay character!

The movie where the character will be premiering, Beauty and the Beast, is right around the corner, so we won’t have to wait two years to see whether Elsa will #GetAGirlfriend.

So who is the character? Is it Bella, played by Emma Watson? (We always knew Hermione was queer.)

No? Okay, is it the Beast? He would bring a new meaning to the word “Furries.”

Not quite.

Disney’s first openly gay character is LeFou, the sidekick of Gaston, the villain. Josh Gad, who voiced the snowman in Frozen, will star as LeFou.

In a recent interview, the director said, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Although this is exciting, it’s okay to be skeptical.

First, the live-action Beauty the Beast has not been met with much enthusiasm since its announcement; Disney fans want to see the company develop new stories rather than continuously wring out the old ones. Given the film’s lukewarm reception, are the Beauty and the Beast creators just using a gay character to entice LGBT fans to buy tickets? After all, if Disney truly wanted to make a statement in favor of gay rights, wouldn’t they have made the first gay character one of the protagonists, instead of the laughable, evil sidekick?

Second, the fact that the first gay character is evil just perpetuates the Sissy Villain trope – many Disney villains, from Scar to Governor Ratcliffe, have effeminate or “homosexual” tendencies. Why? Because men who display femininity are considered evil.

Finally, LeFou literally means “the fool” in French. Shouldn’t the first gay character be more than a punchline?

Still, the fact that Disney is finally including an openly gay character is a major step forward. If done well, LeFou may inspire an entire generation of children to be themselves. If not well done then, well, we can resurrect #GiveElsaAGirlfriend.

Beauty and the Beast opens on March 17.

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Author
J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer--dreams she's now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She's passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment's notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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