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Pixar Slams Disney’s Lukewarm Response to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Pixar's LGBTQIA employees issued an open letter accusing their parent company of censoring queer content.

pixar's turning red

Disney has come under fire for their many donations to the politicians who sponsored and supported Florida’s cruel and bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney CEO Bob Chapek made the situation worse with a series of statements where he implied that the company would support LGBTQ+ rights via their “inspiring content” instead of, you know, NOT funding politicians hell-bent on persecuting queer and trans children. Don’t worry kids, you can’t say gay, but you can enjoy Josh Gad’s Le Fou making eye contact with another man for 3 seconds in Beauty and the Beast!

But an open letter from Pixar’s LGBTQIA employees and their allies tells a different story. The letter accuses Disney of consistently editing out or removing queer characters and content from their films. They write, “We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the ‘inspiring content’ that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.”

The open letter details how Disney could adequately address the issue, writing, “We are calling on Disney leadership to immediately withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to fully denounce this legislation publicly, and to make amends for their financial involvement.” They call out Disney for their hypocrisy in supporting LGBTQ+ folks via words instead of actions. The letter continues, “Disney did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, they instead attempted to placate ‘both sides’—and did not condemn hateful messages shared during the question and answer portion of the meeting. This is not what it means to “unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.”

Chapek has since backpedaled on his original statements, claiming he would talk to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about the bill, and pledging $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ rights organizations. The HRC has refused the donation, with interim president Joni Madison saying, “The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill, don’t become dangerous laws.” She added, “While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida—including hardworking families employed by Disney—today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”

Chapek and Disney were also criticized for not openly opposing the bill, which was a sharp departure from the company’s 2016 threats to boycott filming in Georgia over the passage of the  First Amendment Defense Act, which would have allowed state officials to refuse same-sex marriages due to their religious preference. (Bob Iger was running Disney at the time.) It also goes against Disney’s commercial take on Pride, with Gay Days at their theme parks and plenty of rainbow-festooned merchandise. Not to mention Disney’s self-congratulatory boasting every time they feature an openly queer character. Disney and Chapek have yet to respond to the Pixar letter, but Chapek sent a new email to employees apologizing for his lack of action.

(via Variety, image: Pixar/Disney)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.