News & Politics

Disney shows it’s a gay world after all

PHOTO CREDIT: SKIES-OF-BLUE

PHOTO CREDIT: SKIES-OF-BLUE

One of my biggest pet peeves is how the far-right has co-opted certain words, as though social conservatives have a monopoly on certain things like “values” or “morality.” I’m particularly vexed by the adoption of the word “family” by neo-conservative groups,  especially when used as a weapon to vilify my family. Family is the most important thing in my life. My children, my parents, my siblings, my extended family and, at the center of it all, my partner. This is why I’m so grateful when high-profile companies make it clear that it’s not mutually exclusive to be family-friendly and LGBT-friendly. Disney is a leader in family oriented companies that demonstrate it’s possible to be pro-equality and pro-kids.

Here are the top 10 ways Disney has led the way in being LGBT-inclusive:

  1. Since 1991, Disney has been welcoming LGBT people with Gay Days at their parks. While Gay Days aren’t produced by the parks themselves, they are sanctioned and supported by the company.

  2. Disney doesn’t just welcome LGBT people during a separate celebration. Many of their programs are inclusive. For example, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings have welcomed same-sex weddings. With the marriage debate as contentious as ever, the fact that Disney includes gay couples in the magic of marrying at their parks/resorts/cruises is a welcome statement.

    PHOTO CREDIT: VISIONARI

    PHOTO CREDIT: EVER AFTER BLOG

  3. The Disney Channel made waves earlier this year when the show Good Luck Charlie featured lesbian moms on an episode. Did Frozen debut the first openly gay character in a Disney movie?  Some seem to think so.

    PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY CHANNEL

    PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY CHANNEL

  4. From the flamboyant Genie in Aladdin, to tomboy Terkina in Tarzan, to Mulan, to Ursula (who was inspired by the drag queen, Divine) in The Little Mermaid – there is no shortage of characters who reflect qualities with which LGBT people might connect.

  5. Disney has cast openly gay actors for many beloved roles in animated movies. Nathan Lane voiced Timon in The Lion King, Rosie O’Donnell performed Terkina in Tarzan, BD Wong brought Li Shang to life in Mulan and Jonathan Groff plays Kristoff (a love interest!) in Frozen.

  6. Disney puts their money where their values are by sponsoring LGBT events like OutFest and Pride Festivals.

  7. Disney recently halted their “EARS to You” financial grants to the Boy Scouts because their “views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”

  8. Disney owns Networks like ABC (Modern Family) and ABCFamily (The Fosters) that produce groundbreaking shows that bring LGBT families into the homes of millions of viewers.

  9. The Walt Disney Company scored a 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, highlighting their commitment to an LGBT-friendly workplace that provides important protections for employees like non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity. They offer healthcare coverage for domestic partners and transgender individuals. The company has an LGBT employee group (PRIDE) and even put out an It Gets Better video. Perhaps the biggest testament to a company’s inclusiveness is when LGBT people are able to rise to leadership and last year, Walt Disney World appointed its first openly gay president, George Kalogridis.

  10. Disney joined over 250 other companies in filing an Amicus Brief against DOMA last year. Disney isn’t just hosting Fairy Tale weddings for same-sex couples, they are joining the movement to get them legally recognized.

Is Disney perfect? No. I wasn’t thrilled that they didn’t acknowledge P.L. Travers’ (author of Mary Poppins) Sapphic roots in the storyline of Saving Mr. Banks and I struggle with the (admittedly evolving) princess images. It seems Walt Disney himself had some pretty serious character flaws, but I appreciate the progress I’ve seen the company (and characters) make in my lifetime. I loved Disney movies growing up and since becoming a parent, I’ve developed a new appreciation for the wholesome entertainment they produce for children. My son’s favorite TV show is The Disney Channel’s Doc McStuffins – he even dressed up as Doc for Halloween. Last year, he had his first live theater experience when I took him to see The Lion King. Next week, I’m taking him to see his first movie in the theater. His pick?  Frozen. These are moments, milestones and memories we will cherish for years to come. Because of the reasons listed above, I feel pretty good about Disney playing a role in my family’s life.

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12 Comments

  1. Love this! It’s good to know when a company is truly inclusive.

    • Yes, me too. Especially at all levels – not just a gesture to appear so. Once I started researching, I was surprised myself!

  2. I didn’t know many of these things. Thanks for sharing.

    • Even knowing, once I gathered them all in a list, I was impressed with how it all added up. Pretty great.

  3. Thanks for sharing this; I’ll admit I didn’t think Disney was this progressive and am obviously thrilled they’re more inclusive than I first realized!

  4. These are terrific points, Sandra. I wasn’t aware of #10 at all. Thanks for sharing with us!

  5. i missed the same sex couple on Good Luck Charlie, or maybe it just didn’t faze me or my kids.
    I never realized how far Disney had evolved.

    • Totally. I think that is what was coolest about the segment – if it’s not a big deal in your family you might not even notice it. It wasn’t ABOUT same-sex parents. Just included some!

  6. ART GARCIA says:

    VERY INSPIRING! THIS MESSAGE WILL HELP SO MANY TROUBLED PEOPLE. THANK YOU DISNEY CORP FOR THIS PSA.

  7. This was hugely informative. Thanks!

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