Pixar employees accuse Disney of censoring “overtly gay affection” in films

“We are writing because we are disappointed, hurt, afraid, and angry”

Pixar employees have claimed Disney executives have censored gay affection in its films.

In an open letter attributed to LGBTQIA+ animators and allies at the studio (obtained by Variety), it reads: “We have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were.

“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.”

The letter is in response to Disney’s messaging around the recently passed legislation in Florida known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which blocks the discussion of LGBT+ identities in schools.

Disney’s soft reaction to the legislation attracted widespread criticism. In a statement addressing why the company hadn’t publicly denounced the bill earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek wrote: “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create here and the diverse community organisations we support, including those representing the LGBT+ community.”

After it emerged that Disney made corporate political contributions to several politicians who sponsored the legislation, Chapek addressed the matter in a company-wide email on Monday (March 7).

In the memo, Chapek expressed Disney’s “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community” and said they had “not given money to any politician based on this issue” but to legislators who have “subsequently taken positions on both sides”.

Responding to Chapek’s original comments, the letter from Pixar employees reads: “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.”

The letter calls for Disney leadership to withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and to “denounce this legislation publicly”.

NME has reached out to Disney for comment.

Disney has featured LGBTQIA+ characters in only a few films. In 2020’s Onward, a policewoman named Office Specter makes a reference to her “girlfriend”, while Pixar also released short Out which features the story of a gay man coming out to his parents. Toy Story 4 and Finding Dory have also featured gay characters in the background of scenes.

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