Disney has been accused of censoring same-sex love in Pixar movies in a leaked letter from employees of the animation studio.
The letter to the company’s leadership is signed by “the LGBTQIA+ Employees of Pixar & Their Allies” and was obtained in full by Judd Legum of Popular Information, though the date it was sent on remains unclear.
It comes as a result of Disney’s recent response to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which is now just one signature away from becoming law in the state.
The company faced fierce backlash for opting to release a blanket statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community instead of condemning the legislation, which seeks to restrict “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in primary schools.
A report from Orlando Sentinel on 25 February also revealed that the company had donated money to every single sponsor and co-sponsor of the proposed legislation, prompting its CEO, Bob Chapek, to express “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community” on 7 March.
“To this end, it feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to ‘step back’ in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk,” part of the letter from staff read.
BREAKING: Today's statement by @Disney CEO Bob Chapek against the "Don't Say Gay" bill has failed to satisfy many Disney employees
Follow along if interested pic.twitter.com/GJnne22mdy
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 10, 2022
The employees, who are not personally named in the message, stated that they see inclusive content as the solution to the numerous issues they raised – and alleged that this is something Disney has censored in the past.
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were,” they continued. “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory ‘legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the ‘inspiring content’ that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.”
In response to Chapek’s message to LGBTQ+ people and his commitment to giving the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) $5 million, Joni Madison, Interim President of the HRC, said the organisation “will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates”.
“Businesses have had and continue to have a major impact in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to the defeat of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and beyond,” Madison further explained. “While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”
LGBTQ+ representation in Pixar’s feature films has been scarce, with 2020’s Onward being its most notable display of it through the queer character of Specter.
The scene referencing the character having a girlfriend resulted in the movie being banned in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as being altered in Russia.
GAY TIMES has contacted Disney and Pixar for comment.