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Several same-sex couples were shown kissing in the latest episode of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, a cartoon geared toward children and adolescents that airs on Disney XD, the company’s digital cable and satellite television channel.
The scene took place at a boy band concert, where several concertgoers, including gay and lesbian couples, kissed while the band sings the song “Best Friends.”
Some viewers found the same-sex representations too subtle, according to the Daily Mail, but others tweeted praise for Disney’s first-ever gay kissing scene in the children’s cartoon.
The on-screen same-sex kisses took place as news also surfaced this week of Disney’s first officially gay movie character set to hit screens later this month.
Disney’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast remake will have a gay storyline, the film’s director said, which is thought to be a first for Disney.
Belle’s suitor Gaston, played in the film by actor Luke Evans, will have a male admirer in the new portrayal of his manservant LeFou (Josh Gad).
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” director Bill Condon said.
Condon described for the British gay lifestyle publication Attitude Magazine how LeFou would shine a light on homosexuality.
“He’s confused about what he wants,” Condon said. “It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.”
“And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away,” he continued. “But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
A recently released trailer clip for Beauty and the Beast has LeFou singing the film’s “Gaston” song while dancing in campy fashion as he heaps extravagant praise on Gaston, who is shown appreciating the attention.
Condon said this version of LeFou represents a “watershed moment” for Disney.
“The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural,” he stated, “and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.”
The Gaston-LeFou gay subplot will play out beneath the main story centered on Belle, played by Emma Watson, and her relationship with the Beast (Dan Stevens).
This is not the first time Disney has ventured into highlighting LGBT characters, as its television network has been depicting same-sex relationships for several years now.
Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie introduced a lesbian couple in 2014, and last year the company revealed that two characters from its Gravity Falls program were a gay couple. That animated show started on the Disney Channel before moving to Disney XD.
Disney has faced pressure from LGBT activists to feature more openly gay relationships on its programs. Some activists inferred that previous Disney characters were gay.
A May 2016 Cosmopolitan article endeavored to classify a dozen Disney characters through the years as supposedly gay.