OPINION: Disney has a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ representation

Anthony Belinfante is a senior journalism major and news reporter for The George-Anne at Georgia Southern.

Anthony Belinfante

In February, it was announced that Marvel would feature a gay couple in the upcoming film The Eternals, making it the first MCU film to include LGBTQ representation. In recent years, Disney has slowly begun to show signs of progress in regards to queer representation in both film and television. Disney Channel programs such as Good Luck Charlie and Andi Mack have both featured gay characters in the past, and Pixar will introduce their first LGBTQ character in the upcoming feature Onward. But in recent weeks, Disney has taken a few steps back in regards to the normalization of LGBTQ representation on screen. In fact, the company still has a long way to go in regards to the matter at hand.

Last week, Disney announced that the sequel series to the queer coming of age film Love, Simon would move from their recently launched Disney Plus streaming service to Hulu. While the company said that they are proud of the series, they also said that some of the content in the series was deemed too mature for the family oriented service. Love, Victor, which takes place in the same universe and high school as the 2018 film, follows the title character as he navigates through personal issues including sexual orientation. Fortunately, the series will get to see the light of day thanks to Hulu, but the decision to remove it from Disney Plus is shocking, considering it was one of the first original series to be announced alongside the streamer.

Love, Victor marks the sudden shift in programming at Disney Plus that was expected to feature LGBTQ characters. The High Fidelity reboot series of the same name was expected to premiere on Disney Plus, but was later moved to Hulu. The series, which stars Zoe Kravitz, is definitely a mature series not meant for children, but Disney Plus will soon launch television shows helmed from the world of Marvel, which is not always family friendly. High Fidelity also features queer characters in both Kravitz’s character Rob and her best friend Simon.

Although these two shows found a new home on Hulu, another Disney Plus show featuring LGBTQ characters was not so lucky. Four Dads, a comedy series about a divorced gay couple raising their two teenage daughters while both remarrying, was not moved forward by the streamer after filming the pilot. The series would have been a major development in Disney’s progression of telling queer stories, so for it to cancelled is disappointing to say the least.

While we should commend Disney for their efforts in regarding representation, we should also be able to criticize their choices in silencing queer voices and limiting their visibility amongst numerous platforms.

Disney still has a lot of work to do in regards to representing different communities in their programming, and how they go about doing so. While Disney Channel original series Andi Mack featured the network’s first openly gay character, the show was cancelled despite steady ratings and a noteable fanbase online. While Disney may be breaking barriers in regards to showing LGBTQ characters for the first time in certain spaces, they are also doing a disservice by not putting a bigger spotlight on these characters.

By cancelling television shows or moving them to other platforms, they are not helping tell the stories in which audiences want to see. Instead of getting people’s hopes up or borderline queer bating (Star Wars, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast), Disney needs to put their money where their mouth is and put queer characters at the forefront of these stories, and allow them to be more than a “first” that they just want to get out of the way. In order to become an ally, Disney has to first act like one, and reevaluate how they plan on representing the LGBTQ community in the future.