Disney is under fire for supporting the lawmakers behind Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill as well as alleged censorship within the company.
In the news the last few days, we've watched as Disney has been called out for donating to lawmakers behind the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill in Florida and flip-flopping among public pressure. Their CEO, Bob Chapek, told shareholders during a meeting Wednesday that they were against the bill "from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers—on both sides of the aisle."
But actions speak louder than words, and, as mentioned, the company did donate funds to lawmakers behind it before showing any public opposition to the bill.
As Disney tries to publicly back away from that association, they're facing internal pressure. Not just from the LGBTQIA+ employees, many of whom have been forced to relocate to Florida thanks to business consolidation, but from families all over the world who want to show their children a more diverse world, and feel like the company is stifling that as well as putting young people in danger by supporting a bill that targets and could be used to antagonize LGBTQIA+ people.
Now, a statement attributed to “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar and their allies" has surfaced.
Variety is reporting that Pixar employees allege that Disney corporate has demanded they cut “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection… regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
The statement goes on to confirm what Pixar is all about and the way they see their ongoing mission.
“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. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
New Chapek has now said the company would pledge $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQIA+ rights organizations, but for many, it's too late to take back the harm of these actions. What if no one had found out? It's very likely the company would have continued support of these lawmakers behind closed doors.
The HRC has officially rejected Disney's donation until “meaningful action” is taken.
In a statement, Joni Madison, interim president of the HRC, said, “The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s 'Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill, don’t become dangerous laws. 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.”
To date, Pixar's only gay characters are the two moms you pass in a fleeting scene in Finding Dory, and Lena Waithe's lion in Onward, who mentions having a girlfriend. That mention of having a same-sex partner got the film banned in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Pixar does have a short, Coming Out, which is the story of a child coming out to their parents.
Perhaps the most damning part of the Pixar letter is when they allege Disney profits off LGBTQIA+ people, while never directly supporting them. It reads:
"Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s. Additionally, Disney began capitalizing on Pride in 2018 with The Rainbow Mickey Collection, (while de-emphasizing the terms like LGBTQ+ and not even featuring explicitly LGBTQIA+ pieces such as Pride flag pins until 2021). 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."
You can read the full Pixar letter on Variety. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.