You already know about Pixar‘s Buzz Lightyear origin film, Lightyear, which comes out on June 17.
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Along with Chris Evans as the titular space cadet, Lightyear also features Uzo Aduba as a female character, Hawthorne, who’s reportedly depicted as in a relationship with another woman.
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Variety reports that a kiss between Hawthorne and her partner was initially cut from the film — but now it’s been put back.
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The abrupt change has to do with Disney’s response — or, initially, lack thereof — to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
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The recently passed bill “bans ‘classroom instruction’ on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade and teaching ‘in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.'”
Obviously, Disney has a massive corporate presence in the state with Walt Disney World — but many inside and outside of the company were disappointed with their initial non-response.
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“We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a memo that drew widespread criticism. “Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there. And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.”
Chapek eventually issued a widespread apology.
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“Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was,” he wrote. “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.”
A few days before Chapek’s apology, Pixar employees released a statement claiming that Disney executives had actively censored “overtly gay affection” from their films over the years.
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“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,” the letter stated. “Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
So it seems that the recent decision around Lightyear is a response to those allegations — a small step for a company that has a long way to go.
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