Storify: Disney, Queer Rep, and Beauty and the Beast

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

[Content Note: Ableism, Sexual Assault]

Disney, Queer Rep, and Beauty and the Beast:

Why LeFou isn't new, unusual, helpful, or anything more than a punch to the gut for me.

I am REALLY UPSET about the "surprise-gay" Beauty and the Beast character being Le Fou. LeFou isn't just a grasping, foolish, aggrandizing, simpering minion to a bigger villain. He's one of the most evil people in the play. LeFou actively plots to imprison a man to abet the rape of his daughter. The "Maisson de Lunes" song from the Broadway version is chilling.

He is NOT your typical bumbling Disney minion who is sorta cute and sweet and redeemable in the direct-to-video sequel. He's evil. And, if he's gay and in love with Gaston (which is how I'm sure they'll play it), he's "tragic". Absolutely evil people can be gay, sure. But gay rep in Disney canon is already TERRIBLE and Lumiere and Cogsworth were RIGHT THERE.

It wasn't like there were three men in the movie and Disney needed A Gay (TW) and by process of elimination it couldn't be Beast or Gaston. Lumiere and Cogsworth have been fandom-queer for YEARS, there's no way Disney doesn't know about this. They picked LeFou. Whose name, most charitably translated, is "The Fool". And least charitably translated could be rendered "crazy" or "madman".

@anarschtroumpf: The second is definitely what we hear in French. The first feels like a deliberate euphemism to me...

So Disney is hyping that they gave us A Gay by giving us an evil 'madman' who actively abets rape and imprisonment and comes to a bad end. THANKS, DISNEY.

Oh, and btw, he's not just A Gay, he's a Conflicted Gay: "He’s confused about what he wants."

Bear in mind this is being lauded as HISTORY MAKING and BREAKING BARRIERS:


The actor, Josh Gad, is not out as gay but has a gay brother and gay friends.

Frozen's Josh Gad, an outspoken LGBT ally, discusses his one problem with marriage equality and defends recent unfunny comments made by Billy Crystal, his co-star in The Comedians.

"About 90% of my friends are gay, so I actually celebrate gay marriage on a monthly basis."

Oh. I don't want to get into a whole closet thing, but I don't think not-openly-out-as-gay people need to play Confused Gay Villains?? If Disney REALLY wanted to have LeFou be gay and REALLY wanted to treat the role respectfully, I feel there were better choices. There ARE ways to respectfully handle a queer villain. Hiring a straight-or-closeted actor to play an unexamined stereotype isn't it.

@alketrolyat: Disney has used queer-coded villains for so long and now they're just making that textual! It completely sucks

THIS. That's another problem I have with the "MAKING HISTORY" cookies. Disney has used queer people for YEARS. Disney has had queer-coded villains in so many movies. They don't get a cookie for doing that for the umpteenth time. And how much is LeFou's sexuality going to be explored in the movie? Or is this just more queer coding they want credit for?

Again: They could have made Lumiere and Cogsworth gay and had them kiss at the end. THAT would be something I'd pay to see. LeFou is going to, what? make moony eyes at Gaston? Wow, Disney, so progressive. Much representation. Let me throw roses at your feet.

Queer coded villains are not representation.

Queer winking is not representation.

Queer baiting is not representation.

Queer representation is, arguably, a queer actor working within censorship (McKinnon in GHOSTBUSTERS) or explicit queerness on-SCREEN.

I need to unpack this article a little more, and mind you: I have not seen the movie. But.

"Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it." This sounds like "queer coding" to me. I don't want "subtle" queer rep. I want people who can say the words or concepts, loudly and clearly for the people in the back.

"And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away." This sounds like "queer baiting" to me. I don't want "payoff" for queer rep. I want a movie character who is openly queer from start to finish. No surprise, no aha! moment.

"But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie." Again, Disney has been using us queers--our look, our language--for YEARS.

"By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene." Okay, I'm gonna guess that a short, explicit, ending scene is LeFou cradling a dead/dying Gaston in his arms and confessing his love. That sounds like "tragic gay" to me. Do not want.

"The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural–and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world" oh hai White Savorism? First of all, I'm again REALLY unclear how "villainous rape-abetting madman" (per his name) reads "normal and natural". Um? Second of all, there is ONE PARTICULAR Country Of The World that is failing HARD on queer issues and queer rep. In part because said Country Of The World keeps vilifying us, stealing from us, and killing us in their children's movies.

Then the article talks about how and why the animated movie "resonate[d] so profoundly with many gay men." ....without mentioning Lumiere or Cogsworth at all. They... they think gay men liked BATB because of Belle. I don't... I... what?

Emma Watson, if you're reading this, I need you to get better than this because this is trash, honey. It's just stinky garbage.


He plays Cogsworth. This is just insult to injury. I don't really know what else to say on this except that it hurts. I feel physical pain in my chest at this news. I'd rather have no queer characters at all than have Cogs & Lumiere passed over for a straight actor playing a queercoded simpering villain.

This isn't even about whether you, personally, like a gay LeFou. Sure. Make all the characters gay! I'm with you on the fanfics. Fine. This is about what DISNEY chose to do. Take credit and cookies for showing they'd rather have more queer villains than a happy gay couple.

Because of Disney's queerphobia, the First Openly Gay Character they shove at queer kids to identity with is a FUCKING RAPIST COLLABORATOR. *never stops weeping* Queer kids deserve better than this. Fuck you, Disney. Fuck you.

@_mamadeb: wasn't there a gay couple in Frozen? And two same sex couples in the Lilo and Stitch series?

Yeah, I don't know who at Disney decides which characters are REAL QUEERS and which ones are QUEER CODED. A timely reminder: Queer people have been in Disney before, they just refused to acknowledge us. The "gay couple" in Frozen don't get to speak or interact beyond waving.

Here's another piece on Disney and gay-coding. Ursula, as @alketrolyat notes, was explicitly modeled after Divine. Disney has been using us as villains for years. Tale as old as time, only now they want cookies for a straight* actor doing it. NOPE.

*Straight-or-not-out, but I think treating a character with respect means casting an openly gay actor. IF ONLY BECAUSE he can field interviews better. Because the interviews on this so far are hot garbage. An openly out and queer actor is going to have access to better language to describe their identities in non-stigmatizing ways, imho.

I'm going to Storify this, but quick reminder that bisexual and pansexual men exist and are queer. I've already had a "well, actually" on Lumiere not being gay because of Fifi the Feather Duster. I am not here for the erasure of bisexual, pansexual, and other men-who-love-men queers.

I leave you with this head-canon, shared with Tessa Gratton (who brought the LeFou news to my attention): This is VERY SIMPLE, Lumiere is bi, Cogsworth is gay, and Mrs. Potts and the talking armoir are lesbians. SIMPLE.


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