The Walt Disney Company and, more specifically, CEO Bob Chapek have come under fire in recent weeks for their response to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" legislation, or rather for their lack of response to the bill. Even employees at Pixar Animation Studios shared an open letter to the CEO, with a new report from Variety claiming that the upcoming animated feature Lightyear initially had a same-sex kiss, which had been cut from the film, though it has since been reinstated. The outlet and their sources, however, didn't specifically note where the decision to cut the kiss originated from, as there was no question that the characters in question are in a relationship with one another.
The outlet's sources claim that Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) is assuredly in a relationship with a woman, though it sounds like the kiss was cut and thus prevented there being overt affection shown between the two female characters. Last week, the kiss was inserted back into the film.
Given the impact that Disney has in general in pop culture, and the influence they have in Florida thanks to their Walt Disney World Resort, many supporters had hoped the company would more vocally opposed the new bill, with Chapek's initial remarks being to emphasize the ways in which he aimed to support the LGBTQIA+ community.
"As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change," Chapek initially shared.
After employees expressed their disappointment, Chapek sent an apology email, as opposed to issuing another public statement.
"It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry," Chapek shared in the email. "We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review."
Pixar was one of many divisions of The Walt Disney Company that publicly expressed their disappointment by sharing their support of the LGBTQIA+ community, with Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and more issuing statements. Pixar, however, pointed out that there have been issues in which they felt censored from including LGBTQIA+ content.
"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," the statement pointed out. "Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it."
Variety noted that, despite the implications of the Pixar statement, their sources couldn't cite specific examples in which projects were directly censored per Disney's requests.
This legislation would prohibit any lessons regarding sexual orientation or gender identity and that they "may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
Lightyear is expected to hit theaters on June 17th.0comments