As you may have noticed there has been a lot of press attention lately, both good and bad, directed towards the notion that the new live action Beauty and the Beast film has a LGBT character. Although this might be the first time Disney are explicitly stating that a character in one of their feature films is gay, there has certainly been a few times in the past that have left us wondering if the prince is really after the princess after all! I was having a Disney marathon at the weekend so I thought I’d do a rundown of a few characters that even as a kid you knew probably weren't as straight as an arrow.
Before we get into this let’s talk about queer coding. Queer coding is, as the name suggests, hinting that a character is gay without explicitly saying so, usually by using stereotypically queer traits. Disney have done this fairly extensively for a long time and unfortunately it's rarely with a positive eye. Usually these queer traits are seen in villains and can be portrayed as evil or goofy. Unfortunately in the current variation of Beauty and the Beast seems as though it might be almost as guilty, as once more a gay man is lusting after someone who ignores him, but we will soon find out if that's true. Here are a couple of character's that Disney have definitely hinted about in the past.
Let’s get into this one straight off the bat shall we. La Fru being gay in the live action film isn’t really much of a stretch from his cartoon counterpart. His ‘bromance’ with Gaston steps over the line of dudes hanging out to full on dreamy eyes at times.
Anyone this aggressively straight has to be gay right? If there’s one thing history has taught us it’s that those who are so desperate to prove that they are straight are often closeted homosexuals themselves. While in reality the only person Gaston actually has any attraction towards is himself, maybe if he peeled away from the mirror and took a look around maybe he’d realise something about himself. Also he just so happens to chase the one woman in town who has no interest in him, that seems like a good way of ensuring you never actually have to date anyone.
I have no idea why I would ever be in this situation, but if I ever had to put money on any Disney character being gay it would be this one. He is one of the campest characters in Disney history, plus he makes a mean gift basket! He’s is over the top, loves pampering Radcliffe's pooch and is comfortable with crying in front of the rest of the soldiers. He want’s to turn the underbrush into topiaries rather than fight the Indians and is an ever loyal manservant to Governor Ratcliffe. Speaking of which...
The dude rocks up with bows in his hair and spends a lot of time with his very camp man servant Wiggins. He loves his pampered pooch and is as foppish as they come. If you want further proof there are whole essays floating around on the internet about the relationship between Wiggins and Governor Ratcliffe.
Hades is the personification of that super cool bitchy gay best friend the media loved to portray in the 90’s. He’s also literally flaming...
A minor but memorable character, it’s not just his camp 'Yoohoo’ that you will remember, but also that his family pic shows a dude who is presumable his husband. As far as Disney goes it's one of their most positive queer positive.
Timon and Pumbaa
Essentially they are a cross species same sex couple who adopt a lion cub and raise him as their own, and do a great job. They also love a bit off crossdressing every now and then.
Of course these aren't all of the examples, Scar in The Lion King is another character who has reams of essays written about his queerness, and we didn't even get onto the women. Is it good that Disney are openly claiming that a character is gay? Sure it's a step forward, but as long as we are falling back on stereotypes and not seeing LGBT characters used more complexly we still have a long way to go.
Agree or disagree with me? Comment or tweet me so we can have a chat :)