A group of LGBT+ Pixar staff have accused Disney bosses of cutting “nearly every moment” of overt same-sex affection from their movies, in a leaked letter from employees of the animation studio.
The letter, said to have been sent to Disney executives, is signed by “the LGBTQIA+ Employees of Pixar & Their Allies” and challenges the company’s response – or lack thereof – to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill, which is about to be signed into state law
The letter (below) was obtained by Judd Lengum of political newsletter Popular Information and shared on Twitter on 9 March, although the exact date it was sent remains unknown.
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were,” the letter read.
“Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest. [Even] when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
It continues: “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.”
Disney has faced backlash for their response to the Don’t Say Gay bill, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, which passed through Florida’s senate on the 8 March and will, amongst other things, ban “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.
Disney failed to condemn the bill in any way, despite holding huge political and economic sway in the state and being one of Florida’s largest employers.
Disney, who also host so-called ‘gay days’ at its parks, profit off sales of Pride merchandise every year – all whilst reportedly bringing in an annual revenue of $17 billion.
Furthermore Disney is said to have donated money to every single sponsor and co-sponsor of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, according to reports from the Orlando Sentinel.
Responding to mounting public pressure and backlash, Disney CEO Bob Chapek eventually
albeit too late, in a lengthy internal memo, expressed his “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community” but still refused to publicly oppose the bill, arguing that Disney tells “diverse stories” which are more impactful than a company statement against. Which, of course, is a load of shit.
Hours after the Don’t Say Gay bill passed through senate, Chapek announced that the company would pledge $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other LGBT+ organisations.
HRC declined the donation until “meaningful action” is taken.
HRC’s interim president, Joni Madison, said in a statement: “Businesses have had and continue to have a major impact in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to the defeat of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and beyond.
“While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”
Continuing: “HRC encourages Disney, and all employers, to continue to fight for their employees – many of whom bravely spoke out to say their CEO’s silence was unacceptable – and the LGBTQ+ community by working with us and state and local LGBTQ+ groups to ensure these dangerous anti-equality proposals that harm LGBTQ+ families and kids have no place in Florida.
“Every student deserves to be seen, and every student deserves an education that prepares them for health and success — regardless of who they are. This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end.”
The Don’t Say Gay bill is now headed to be signed into law by Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis.
BREAKING: Today's statement by @Disney CEO Bob Chapek against the "Don't Say Gay" bill has failed to satisfy many Disney employees— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 10, 2022
A letter from @Pixar staff to Disney leaders, obtained by https://t.co/Gl6evXRDcZ, details their anger and demands
Follow along if interested pic.twitter.com/GJnne22mdy