Disney is often accused of pretending to care about the LGBTQ+ community while actively suppressing their stories in fear of jeopardizing their immense wealth. They readily promote superficial forms of “representation,” such as Joe Russo as a grieving gay man in The Avengers: Endgame or Josh Gad in Beauty and the Beast. However, when it comes to meaningful representation, they either shelve or completely eliminate those stories.
Like many other corporations, Disney has created a “Pride Catalog” on their streaming platform, Disney+. It includes documentaries about pop stars like Elton John and Miley Cyrus, as well as the series Glee. They even highlight episodes of the beloved animated series The Owl House, which itself is insulting because Disney is also the studio that canceled The Owl House after its second season, forcing the creators to rush an abbreviated third season to provide closure.
It’s important to note that The Owl House featured a central relationship between two women: Luz, a bisexual 14-year-old protagonist, and Amity, who initially starts as her enemy but later becomes her friend and girlfriend. The showrunner confirmed that Amity is a lesbian. The series also explored another romance between Luz’s mentor and their nonbinary partner, also a first for the network.
The sheer hypocrisy of Disney’s public support for the LGBTQ+ community becomes more infuriating when contrasted with their profiting from Pride-related content while denying LGBTQ+ individuals the opportunity to write and promote their own stories. This hypocrisy is evident in the case of The Owl House and even more so with the upcoming film Nimona. Based on the popular graphic novel by ND Stevenson, the film features an ensemble cast including Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, Eugene Lee Yang, and others. It has been highly anticipated for years and will be released on Netflix on June 30 after a limited theatrical release on June 23.
According to a report from Collider, the film was abruptly canceled despite being 75% complete. This decision followed the acquisition of 20th Century Fox and its subsidiary studios, including Blue Sky Studios, which was working on Nimona before being shut down. The film was poised to showcase a same-sex romance between former lovers-turned-enemies, Ballister (played by Ahmed) and Ambrosius (played by Yang), as well as the gender fluidity and nonconformity of the titular character. This progressive and necessary story faced resistance, particularly concerning the inclusion of the same-sex kiss, which ultimately contributed to the studio’s closure.
The report suggests that Blue Sky Studios felt pressured by Disney to exclude the same-sex kiss from future presentations while still hoping to include it in the final film. While Disney may attribute the decision to profit-related concerns, it is difficult not to question their motives.
In contrast to Disney, other networks and streaming services such as Netflix and Cartoon Network actively celebrate queer voices and stories. They have successful series like She-Ra, Steven Universe, and Adventure Time that champion LGBTQ+ representation. Disney, on the other hand, continues to present itself as an ally in public while failing to promote their own LGBTQ+ stories. While they decorate their Disney+ page with rainbows, they have recently removed shows such as Big Shot, Marvel’s Runaways, and Better Nate Than Ever from their catalog.
The release of Nimona is nothing short of miraculous considering the challenges it faced during production. However, it’s important to remember while they continue to profit from their association with Pride that Disney was one of the main obstacles to its creation.