Disney Censors 'Overtly Gay Affection' In Movies, According To Pixar Employees

Employees at Pixar have penned a letter alleging that Disney corporate executives censor "nearly every moment of overtly gay affection" in projects from the studio.

The letter, which was acquired by Variety, is attributed to "the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies" and is the latest in a wider reaction to a memo sent to all Disney employees by CEO Bob Chapek earlier this week. The memo addresses the company's response to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, in which Chapek said that Disney's "biggest impact" would be achieved by "creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce."

As the Pixar letter states, that claim runs opposite the actual experience of Pixar employees trying to create stories that include LGBTQIA+ storylines or characters.

The Mouse House holds firm

"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 says. "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 problem is that this is not even censorship after the fact, which has happened multiple times in the past as the international release of several Disney films are either banned in foreign countries or edited to remove any trace of LGBTQIA+ characters. Instead, the letter alleges this is Disney outright shutting down LGBTQIA+ character affection before it can happen.

This is not the only letter sent to Disney in response to the "Don't Say Gay Bill." According to Variety, the CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, received a letter from Disney's LGBTQIA+ Business Employee Resource Groups on February 28, before the bill was passed in Florida and before the company memo was issued. 

On social media, several Disney animators and employees have spoken out against the bill and Disney's response (or lack thereof) to it. Abigail Disney, an activist and descendent of company co-founder Roy O. Disney, shared her outrage on Twitter, saying "it takes a seriously flawed moral compass to not see that funding the people who wrote and passed [the bill] is anything less than supporting their ugly agenda."

Likewise, "DuckTales" writer Benjamin Siemon also took to Twitter to share criticism, saying "LGBT kids are going to be left alone and scared and hurt by this bill." Journalist Joe Flint shared a statement from Garth Ancier, former president of Walt Disney Television: "For a CEO of The Walt Disney Company to make such a public and obvious misstep seems incredible to me," Ancier said. "We would often joke that we didn't know if any Team Member at the Parks Division was 'straight,' especially at Disney World in Florida. For Chapek not to understand that reality — well, no serious CEO can be that detached from his workforce."

Not the first time

Of course, Disney has included LGBTQIA+ characters in past movies, from "Mulan," to "Jungle Cruise." On the Pixar side of things, there was a very blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to a gay cop in the film "Onward". But they have also long shut down references to LGBTQIA+ representation in multiple forms.

Back in 2020, "Gravity Falls" creator Alex Hirsch went on social media and wrote about how Disney "FORBADE me from any explicit LGBTQ+ rep," he said in a tweet. 

Though some things have improved — Hirsch's tweet was in response to "The Owl House" including a bisexual character — it is very discouraging to hear Pixar employees say attempts at LGBTQIA+ representation were not even censored after the fact, but outright shut down before they could happen. Time will tell if the backlash becomes too big for Disney to ignore.