It seems as though Disney is finally meaningfully bending to pressure from the LGBTQIA+ community and allies over the company’s lukewarm condemnation of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which CEO Bob Chapek initially refused to denounce. As such, in a shockingly progressive move for Disney, a same-sex kiss that was previously cut from the upcoming animated Pixar film Lightyear has been restored ahead of the film’s premiere.
According to Variety, the film features a “significant female character,” voiced by Uzo Aduba, who is in a relationship with another woman. The decision to edit the kiss back into the film comes a week after Pixar employees penned an open letter detailing how Disney corporate executives have had a no-tolerance policy for including just about any queer characters or stories into their content.
“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,” states the letter, likewise shared by Variety. “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. 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.”
There have been a handful of times that Pixar has managed to fly “unambiguous LGBTQ characters” under the radar, such as when two moms hug their child goodbye at kindergarten in 2019’s Toy Story 4 or when 2016’s Finding Dory features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of what appears to be a lesbian couple. Likewise, a one-eyed cop played by Lena Waithe who appears in a few scenes in 2020’s Onward at one point mentions her girlfriend.
In addition to the letter from Pixar employees, news of the kiss also lands square on the heels of reports that another same-sex kiss was nixed from a Blue Sky Studios adaptation of ND Stevenson’s graphic novel Nimona before the project was shelved altogether when Disney shut down the entire studio, shortly thereafter acquiring it from 20th Century Fox.
Disney’s hand has clearly been forced in the matter, but even forced progress is still progress. Watch Pixar make LGBTQIA+ history when Lightyear arrives in theaters on June 17, 2022.