Disney has it’s first openly gay character. Beauty and the Beast hits U.S. theaters this upcoming Friday, a movie that it based on the french story by the same name. However, the classic Disney movie and this live action remake have one thing that the original story did not, Gaston and LeFou. Gaston and LeFou were created as the main antagonists for the film. Gaston is a beautiful but horribly full of himself muscle man who desires Belle for her beauty, while LeFou is his vertically challenged henchman.
It has recently been leaked that in the live action remake, there is more to LeFou then just a henchmen. He has officially come out as Disney’s first openly gay character. While this fact is not highlighted with a neon sign, director Bill Condon spoke of an “exclusively gay moment” that took place during the film. The scene in question is LeFou subtly flirting with Gaston. Later, LeFou is seen dancing with another male character. According to Bill Condon, “It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it,” referring to Josh Gad who plays LeFou.
However, since the interview, Bill Condon has since been trying to downplay what he said. “Why is it a big deal?” he asked during a later interview. He described LeFou’s sexuality as something that he and Josh Gad had some fun with. He said, “I love the way it plays pure when people don’t know and it comes as a nice surprise.”
LeFou’s sexuality has created some backlash as well. In Alabama, one theater canceled its screening of Beauty and the Beast after hearing that it contained an openly gay character. It has also been reported that Russia may not screen the film due to their ban on whatever officials deem to be “gay propaganda.”
This decision is also thought to pay homage to one of the creators of the 1991 classic. Howard Ashman was the lyricist who co-wrote the iconic songs that were found in the original animated film. Ashman was openly gay and was fighting a losing battle with AIDS while he worked on the movie. One of the masterminds behind the film, it was his idea to make the movie a musical, and to feature Beast as one of the two central characters. Up until that point, the story centered mostly on Belle.
For Ashman, Beauty and the Beast was deeply symbolic and a metaphor for AIDS. He considered himself cursed, a curse that hurt his loved ones, but with just a chance of a miracle. Ashman wrote the lyrics for the movie while he was dying at home. Disney paid for a private nurse to help him during this time. While he did not live to see the film released, there is an acknowledgment to him in the credits.
What do you think of this controversy?
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