There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the newBeauty And The Beastmovie.

One of the most exciting things about it for me is that it marks a Disney first: the inclusion of a gay character and storyline.

Reading about the film has been interesting, and it’s filled me with anticipation about how Disney is going to handle LeFou as a gay character. In an interview with Attitude, the director, Bill Condon, talked about the storyline. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” he said. He goes on to say that LeFou is confused about what he wants and is only just realising what his true feelings could mean – “And that’s what has its pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Not long after the news broke, the bigots came crawling out of the woodwork. Of course there are people uncomfortable with a gay storyline, and of course they’ll make their discomfort known to the world at large via sanctimonious preaching. And boycotts. And cancellations.

The Henagar Drive-In theatre in Alabama cancelled its Beauty And The Beast session times, and the owner made some trite reference to God in a Facebook post: “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”

Never mind that the central romance is about a woman who falls in love with a man-beast, and if somebody tried to argue, “But he’s not a beast INSIDE!”, well, that just falls flat – since if it’s what’s inside that counts, what does it matter that LeFou falls for another man?

Indeed, the entire romantic premise hangs on the idea that true love is about humanity; it’s about soul. There is probably no better Disney film to introduce a gay arc into than this one.

I’m just really happy that Disney is making a direct acknowledgement of homosexuality without making it weird or wrong. It’s just another facet of human sexuality and expression of romance. We’re probably still a bit far from seeing a gay Disney protagonist, but this is a great start.

That said, I haven’t yet seen the film and can’t pass judgement on how it handles LeFou’s storyline. I must admit to some reservations about it. While the director might have explicitly said that there is a definite, unimpeachable gay moment, there’s also the possibility that it’s all just lip service and the ‘gay moment’ is a half-second shot of shadowy male figures kind of kissing.

Again though, it’s a start. When the backlash is over, when the controversy has died down, there’ll be room for more queer characters in media aimed at kids and families. We can’t spend too much longer pretending that there are no gay kids or gay families in the world: it’s getting a bit silly.

Beauty And The Beast opens here on Thursday March 23.

This Week:

This Thursday March 16, Studio Kink Sydney is hosting an introductory class on Japanese rope bondage (shibari). The beginners’ class will teach the fundamentals of knots, safety, consent and bondage patterns. This is the first session as part of a four-week course and requires no prior experience at all to join. You can pay $20 per class or $60 upfront for all four classes.

On Saturday March 18, head over to the newly opened Shift Kitchen on Oxford Street to celebrate Gaynor Tension’s glorious return to the stage while enjoying some fine dining – and fabulous celebrity impressions. Admission is free.

Also on Sunday March 18, get down to the duck pond at Victoria Park in Camperdown for a free community event, Keep Newtown Weird & Safe. The event is part of the Reclaim The Streets movement, with lots of emphasis placed on community bonding. Local artists, musicians, performers and queer characters will come together for a vibrant street party that serves to remind us that our neighbourhoods really do belong to us – not investors.

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