Uzo Aduba voices Hawthorne in Pixar's 'Lightyear'.

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ Restores Same-Sex Kiss Amidst ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ Protests

The animation company previously accused Disney of censoring queer content.

Pixar is set to debut its first same-sex kiss in the upcoming film Lightyear. The film, which stars Chris Evans as the real-life hero that inspired Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear, will feature a lesbian character named Hawthorne, voiced by Uzo Aduba. Hawthorne is in a relationship with another woman, and while said relationship was hinted in the film, a planned kiss was cut. Hawthorne will be Pixar’s second openly queer character, following Onward‘s Officer Spector (Lena Waithe), who briefly references her wife in the film.

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However, the uproar over Disney’s support of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill (and their lukewarm response when called out) has inspired LGBTQ+ employees and allies to to call out and protest the company. The employees shared an open letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, which 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.”

In response, Disney’s LGBTQIA+ employees and allies have planned a week of walkouts, both virtual and in-person. The group also published a list of demands in an open letter to Chapek.

In adding the kiss back into Lightyear, Pixar is making a strong stand in favor of queer content and representation. While queer characters have appeared in kids animated films such as ParaNorman and most recently, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, this would be a major (and long overdue) step for Disney.

Aside from Onward‘s brief mention and some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it background gays, Pixar has only ever made one queer-themed project, Steven Hunter’s short film “Out,” which follows a young man’s struggle to come out to his parents. The short was released on Disney Plus as part of its SparkShorts program.

“I stand by my colleagues,” Hunter said. “I’m really proud of those folks for speaking up. We need that. We need Mr. Chapek to understand that we need to be speaking up. We can’t assume that these laws that they’re trying to put in place aren’t hurtful and bigoted and, frankly, evil. We are not going away. We’re not going back in the closet.”

(via Variety, image: Pixar)

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Chelsea Steiner
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.