Pixar’s forthcoming Toy Story prequel Lightyear has put a same-sex kiss back in following an internal backlash to Disney’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
A source familiar with the production confirmed the change to Deadline. Variety was the first to report the move.
The embrace is between Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and another woman. The characters’ relationship itself was never called into question during production, the source said, but a kiss between the characters was excised before being restored last week. Pixar was one of the loudest voices criticizing Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of the Florida bill, and said in a letter leaked to the press that the company had suppressed same-sex elements in Pixar projects.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will soon sign the bill, which would limit what teachers can say about gender and sexuality in the classroom. Backers have called it the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, while opponents label it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Among other critics, President Biden has used the word “hateful” to describe the legislation.
Chapek last week drew fierce backlash as he sought to communicate the company’s approach to the bill to employees, investors and consumers. Lambasted by opponents of the bill, especially inside the company, for not taking a public stance against it (unlike former longtime Disney chief Bob Iger, who tweeted his opposition), Chapek said the company preferred to work behind the scenes. He then apologized for “letting down” Disney’s LGBTQ+ employees. DeSantis then piled on, with an aide deriding the media company as “woke Disney,” leading to criticism from the right on top of the acrimony from the left.
As Variety‘s detailed story noted, same-sex material is rare in family animation movies, though several titles from Pixar and other distributors have at least gestured at it. Beyond animation, Disney has also started populating some of its other properties with at least some LGBTQ+ characters and moments.
Lightyear is scheduled for theatrical release on June 17. The last three Pixar films — Soul, Luca and Turning Red — have all been re-routed from theaters to exclusive play on streaming service Disney+, a trend that has added to the unrest in the Pixar ranks. Digital plans for Lightyear have not been confirmed. Encanto, a smash on Disney+, grossed $250 million before starting its streaming run a month later.
Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report.
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