Hollywood still far from LGBTQA inclusiveness

Caroline Lozano/ Contributing Writer

Last Saturday, I decided to watch “Beauty and the Beast.” Although I was curious to see how this film would compare to the 1991 Disney animated classic, I also wanted to see the portrayal of the character of LeFou, Gaston’s silly and diminutive sidekick.

Earlier this month, director Bill Condon revealed that the film would include an “exclusively gay moment” involving LeFou, who would also be depicted as gay.

The announcement spanned a mixed reaction among many viewers, with some ecstatic for the inclusion of a gay character in a children’s film and others angry for the supposed “gay propaganda.”

The film was initially banned in Malaysia and would only be shown if the scene were cut from the final product as homosexuality is illegal in the country.

According to Deadline, in Malaysia, “on screen, gay characters are allowed to be depicted, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.”

After Disney’s refusal and the film’s subsequent submission to the Film Appeals Committee, the film will be released with a PG-13 rating on March 30.

In Russia, the film was called to be banned but instead, was released with a 16+ rating due to the country’s anti “gay propaganda” laws.

A theater in Alabama went as far as to cancel screenings of the film because it went against “Christian values.”

With all the commotion built up because of LeFou’s sexuality and gay scene, I expected it to be something more than the 3 seconds presented towards the end.

The film’s narrative was sprinkled with queerness, but the “exclusively gay moment” Disney was patting itself on the back for wasn’t revolutionary in the slightest, especially in comparison to the 2012 animated film, ParaNorman, where the typical dumb jock character revealed he had a boyfriend without shame or ridicule from his friends.

Surprisingly, this isn’t exclusive only to children’s animated films. Mainstream films still don’t evoke the LGBTQ inclusion that the community has long wanted.

The majority of today’s films don’t feature prominent gay characters, either in lead or supporting roles. GLAAD, the powerful LGBT advocacy organization, supports this fact on their Studio Responsibility Index.

According to GLAAD, “Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters.”

Most LGBTQ characters introduced in films also tend to be gay males while lesbians and bisexuals are forced to take the backseat.

In 2016, GLAAD reported that “the overwhelming majority of inclusive films (77 percent) featured gay male characters, an increase of 12 percentage points from the previous report. Less than a quarter of inclusive films (23 percent) featured lesbian characters and less than one-tenth (9 percent) included bisexual characters.”

Now, I’m not trying to say that the film industry has never helped the LGBTQ community. Films have featured gay and lesbian characters — though usually, in a negative light  — from as early as 1895.

According to Cinema Jam, “the first film regarded as LGBT is the 1895 The Dickson Experimental Sound Film, in which a dance between two men is considered the first depiction of homosexuality in film.”

Other films like “Milk” and “Brokeback Mountain” changed the way Americans viewed homosexuals since it showed them as regular people in search of happiness within a bigoted society.

Now, over a decade later, “Moonlight” scored a Best Picture win at the Academy Awards, becoming the first LGBT-themed film to ever do so.

It’s apparent that we’re moving past the prejudices and fears that once haunted our history. I’m also not discrediting the successes of LGBT-themed films. It’s great that these stories are being told and LGBT characters are finally depicted in an authentic manner.
It’s a step towards the right direction, but regardless of Best Picture wins or not, the film industry has a long way to go before it can laud itself for its so-called inclusiveness.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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