Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” hasn’t even been released yet and it’s already receiving a ton of backlash.
Last week, director Bill Condon revealed the film will feature Disney’s first gay character. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” he said in an interview with Attitude magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants.”Unfortunately, LeFou’s change in sexuality sparked backlash online, with many encouraging people to boycott the film.
— Lori Hendry (@Lrihendry) March 2, 2017
Boycott Disney's Beauty and the Beast. There is a character who is confused about his sexuality. Why are they teaching this to our youth?
— John A Dodson (@johnnylovsjesus) March 1, 2017
One of the most vocal boycotters includes Christian evangelist Franklin Graham. Last Thursday, Graham criticized Disney in a Facebook post for normalizing the LGBTQ community.
“They're trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out!” he wrote. “Disney has the right to make their cartoons, it's a free country. But as Christians we also have the right not to support their company.”
In addition to the boycott, an Alabama theatre announced it will not screen the film due to the homosexual character and Russia is currently debating whether or not they will ban the film, as it potentially violates their law against “gay propaganda.”
Despite the strong backlash, director Condon is standing by his decision to include a gay character in “Beauty and the Beast.”
At a press conference in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday, he said: “I talked before about how we translate this into live-action. That means building out the characters. It’s also a translation to 2017, you know? And what is the movie about? What has this story always been about for 300 years? It’s about looking closer, going deeper, accepting people for who they really are.”
“In a very Disney way, we are including everybody,” he continued. “I think this is for everybody, and on the screen we’ll see everybody. And that was important to me.”
At the film’s world premiere, actor Josh Gad said he was “really proud” to play LeFou, but made it clear that “there was nothing in the script that said ‘LeFou is gay.’”
“Bill Condon did an amazing job of giving us an opportunity to create a version of LeFou that isn’t like the original, that expands on what the original did, but that makes him more human and that makes him a wonderfully complex character to some extent,” he said.