The Walt Disney Company has faced backlash, particularly this past week, as a Florida bill that would ban the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary school classrooms was passed by the state’s Senate. Last week, numerous Pixar employees and their “allies” took the opportunity to issue a statement that the House of Mouse has previously “shaved down” the studio’s attempts to depict the LGBTQ+ community in animated films “to crumbs.” Now it looks like Disney is responding with a change to the upcoming film Lightyear.
Pixar’s next movie following Turning Red is Lightyearwhich will serve as an origin story for the Toy Story space ranger, starring Chris Evans in the voice role. Following the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill controversy, Pixar has reportedly reinstated a same-sex kiss that had been removed from the film previously, per variety‘s source “close” to the production.
The LGBTQ+ moment will be between a “significant” character voiced by Uzo Aduba and another female character in Lightyear, who she will have a meaningful relationship with in the storyline. As noted in the Pixar statement from last week, Lightyear was apparently another movie that Disney removed content from regarding the Queer community, but in light of the “Don’t Say Gay” backlash, the company changed its mind.
Pixar has long attempted to showcase more representation in their films. The studio did get the chance to feature its first LGBTQ+ main character through the 2020 shorts, Out. Additionally, in 2020’s ForwardLena Waithe’s Spector is a female cyclops and police officer who mentions she has a girlfriend during the film in passing. Having a main character in Lightyear who is unmistakably queer would be a major move for not only the studio, but for the industry.
The animation studio has been hard at work to bring more diversity to its beloved films, such as with Turning Redwhere Pixar developed technology to make sure the characters in the background of the scenes represented the melting pot of Toronto, Canada. Pixar recently pushed boundaries in Turning Red as well by featuring feminine products and the discussion of female puberty.
Along with the complaints to Disney from Pixar employees, three Blue Sky Studios staffers recalled the company cutting a same-sex kiss in their film Nimona, which was scrapped altogether by the studio while it had been deep into development. Disney employees are also set to stage walkouts following Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s slow response to the Florida bill that will move the LGBTQ+ community backwards.
Lightyear is set to be released on June 17, with Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer and James Brolin also among the cast. The movie is expected to hit theaters, but it’s unclear how things will shake out considering recent Pixar films have debuted exclusively on Disney+ as of late.