Employees at Pixar have penned a letter suggesting that Disney leaders censor same-sex love onscreen and cuts “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection.”
First obtained by Popular Information newsletter journalist Judd Legum, the letter is unsigned but attributed to “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies.” It’s the latest in a collective reaction towards Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, legislation “prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” The widely criticized bill has been passed by Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate, now heading to governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, where it is poised to be passed into law.
The Pixar letter, published after Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting, said Disney can do far more to fight against the bill, with a more concrete public response, and that if “Disney is true in its values, it will take a decisive public stand against the discriminatory legislation” in Florida, and other states with similar legislations.
But most notably, the letter claimed that Disney executives “shaved down to crumbs” any LGBTQIA+ content and representation put forth by Pixar writers and animators.
“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,” reads the letter, per Variety. “Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the ‘inspiring content’ that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.”
“Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.”
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has faced internal and external pressure to condemn the bill — Disney employs 80,000 people in Florida. On Monday, Chapek sent a company-wide memo declaring that he and Disney’s leadership team “unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities,” and that Disney was “committed to creating a more inclusive company—and world.”
“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’s memo read.
This echoed a similar statement from Disney last week which declared, “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce…”
LGBTQ Disney employees took to Twitter on Monday to speak about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and its potential dangers, asking Disney to take a stronger stance against it. Animation writer Benjamin Siemon, for instance, said, “LGBT kids are going to be left alone and scared and hurt by this bill.” Abigail Disney, an activist, filmmaker, and descendent of Disney’s co-founder Roy O. Disney, also took to social media to express outrage. The hashtag #BoycottDisney quickly began to trend on Twitter.
Chapek spoke about the criticism at an annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, saying, “While we’ve been strong supporters of the community for decades, I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill. We were opposed to the bill from the outset, and we chose not to take a public position because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
The CEO also said he called Governor DeSantis to express Disney’s disappointment and concern, to which DeSantis responded by agreeing to a meeting with LGBTQ members of Disney’s senior team in Florida.
On Wednesday, Chapek also pledged a $5 million donation to The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other organizations protecting LGBTQ rights, which was rejected by the HRC citing the need for “meaningful action” from the company on the bill. Disney responded, with a spokesperson saying, “We signed the HRC’s national business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and pledged to financially support their efforts, and while we are surprised and disappointed that they will not take our financial support at this time, we remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”
Disney’s support of LGBTQ employees and the community at large, the Pixar letter claims, is only a very recent development, citing that “Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone.”
Your move, Disney.
Read more: mashable.com