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While Walt Disney Pictures is getting ready to tell their “tale as old as time” again in a new way with their live-action adaptation update of Beauty and the Beast, due March 17th, word recently broke that this new version will also include a new tale for our time.
In an interview with Attitude Magazine, director Bill Condon (Mr. Holmes) revealed that the character LeFou, played in this version by Josh Gad (Frozen, The Book of Mormon), will be Disney’s first ever openly LGBTQ character. Condon stated, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Not surprisingly, this landmark inclusion of an LGBTQ character has been met with controversy. In addition to petitions boycotting the film, The Henagar Drive-In Theatre in DeKalb County, Alabama has cancelled screenings of the film. A statement released by the company’s Facebook page read, “When companies continually force their views on us, we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine. If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it.”
Disney has yet to issue any comment.
The decision to make LeFou an LGBTQ character was made not only has a way to expand on the relationship the character had in the original, but to also honor the late Howard Ashman, who helped composed music for the 1991 original with Alan Menken.