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Disney made a ‘bold’ move in its latest live-action movie by making the character of LeFou from Beauty and the Beast exhibit archetype homosexual characteristics. And good on them. Hopefully it’ll challenge cinema-goers’ preconceived notions of what being gay means. But… I highly doubt it.
LeFou isn’t confirmed as gay, and the homosexual characteristics he has don’t feature with great prominence, which begs the question as to why so many people are threatening to boycott Beauty and the Beast.
A petition created on Life Petitions has amassed over 135,000 signatures with the aim to ‘Tell Disney ‘NO’ to LGBT agenda in Beauty and the Beast‘; the film was pulled from Malaysia following its Film Censorship Board’s insistence that the ‘gay moment’ be cut; a theatre in Alabama refuses to air the movie due to this subplot; and in Russia you have to be over the age of 16 to view the film without the presence of an adult.
With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Disney had created an X-rated movie with explicit homosexual content.
Mild spoilers to follow
The ‘homosexual content’ is barely that. During Josh Gad’s (LeFou) performance of ‘Gaston’ he sings the following line: ‘You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley / And they’ll tell you whose team they prefer to be on’. LeFou fawns over Gaston and winks following this line; but it’s already been stated that here LeFou doesn’t necessarily want Gaston. One day he wants him, the next he wants to be him. But so what?
So we have a wink. What else?
During the final dance in which Emma Thompson sings ‘Beauty and the Beast’, LeFou is seen dancing with a woman. When partners are exchanged, LeFou is pleasantly surprised to see that his new suitor is in fact a man. And he dances with him. FOR LESS THAN A SECOND.
No sex. No kissing. No confirmation of LeFou’s sexuality.
And yet this is why Beauty and the Beast has caused such an uproar in some countries. Put simply, you have to be an adult in Russia to see two men dance for less than a second.
The Life Petition mentioned previously comes with the following statement:
Children’s movies are no place for promoting a harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply held beliefs of countless parents and families.
I pledge to boycott both the Beauty and the Beast movie, and other Disney films and products, until such a time as Disney commits itself to protecting, not harming, the innocence of our children.’
It is also stated that they wish to ‘Send a strong message to Disney that children’s entertainment is no place to promote a harmful sexual political agenda’. HOW is witnessing two men dancing a promotion of harmful sexual politics? Nobody is commenting upon Belle fawning over what, at best, is an anthropomorphised goat who holds her prisoner. Bestiality and kidnap are apparently okay in the eyes of those that conjured this petition, but homosexuality is a big no-no.
I’m not saying there’s a problem with LeFou being gay. No, the problem is the uproar that such scenes have unleashed. Whilst Malaysia now intends to air an unedited version of the movie, before this decision was made those that live there wouldn’t have been able to see Beauty and the Beast because of a VERY brief exchange between two men, an exchange that can, and probably will, go over the heads of most children there. They don’t care that LeFou dances with another man. All they care about is the happily ever after that is promoted by every Disney movie.
All I’m ultimately saying is that based on my prior knowledge of the reaction Beauty and the Beast has garnered, I fully expected to at least see LeFou kissing another man. But he didn’t. Fair enough, he may fawn over Gaston A LOT, but it could simply be read as him being jealous of Gaston’s physique (LeFou being a rotund man). He could be jealous of Gaston’s looks, because Gaston has many women fawning over him though none are shown to react in such a way with LeFou. And, and this is a big AND, he could be in love with Gaston. So what? Big deal. Get over it.
It’s saddening that a children’s movie has turned into such a pot of politics. The people boycotting this movie clearly still live under a rock and believe that one can be influenced by and ultimately ‘turned’ gay. Which is clearly rubbish. I watched Belle and the Beast fall in love and yet I didn’t leave the cinema and head straight to the zoo on the look out for my next date, just as most of the straight children and adults in attendance didn’t head straight to their nearest gay bar.
I didn’t want a kiss, but I wanted more to justify this outcry. Explicit confirmation of LeFou’s sexuality would have sent such a POSITIVE message to the children in attendance. It would have awoken questions that their parents would have had to answer, and they would have been able to see that LeFou, ultimately, is no different than any of the other characters. The message of inclusion needs to start at a younger age. Hate is taught. It’s not innate. Teach to accept and LeFou dancing with another man won’t be an issue. But making is such a newsworthy item makes it an issue – for all the wrong reasons.