(Adds reaction in para 8-12)
By Anna Pujol-Mazzini
LONDON, March 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Disney will
feature its first gay scene when a character is seen struggling
with his sexuality in the live-action remake of 'Beauty and the
Beast', according to the film's director.
The film's stars will be heterosexual - British actors Emma
Watson and Dan Stevens play the title roles - and manservant
LeFou, sidekick to the film's macho main man Gaston, will
grapple with his own sexuality.
"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on
another day wants to kiss Gaston," director Bill Condon told gay
magazine Attitude in an interview published on Wednesday.
"He's confused about what he wants. It's somebody who's just
realising that he has these feelings. It is a nice, exclusively
gay moment in a Disney movie," he told the British magazine.
Attitude editor-in-chief Matt Cain said it was an important
step towards fair representation of LGBT people in the media.
"By representing same-sex attraction in this short but
explicitly gay scene, 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, even countries where it's
still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay," he said.
'Beauty and the Beast' tells the story of a prince who is
transformed into a beast, and a young woman who is imprisoned in
his castle, as he tries to win her love.
"It's sad that we still haven't seen a lesbian, gay, bi or
trans lead character in a Disney film," Stonewall, an equality
campaigns group, said in a statement.
"We must see the film industry as a whole become more
diverse, which means actively hiring more writers, directors and
producers whose lived experiences represent all communities."
The decision to update a Disney classic, however, drew
criticism in some quarters, with one commentator in an online
discussion forum saying "gender politics has no place in
children's entertainment. Leave the classic stories alone."
It is not the first time Disney has updated its films to
reflect changing times and drawn a mixed reaction.
In a drive to promote racial diversity on screen, Disney
featured its first black princess in the 2009 film, 'The
Princess and the Frog'. Reaction was mixed; some critics voiced
concern that her depiction only strengthened racial stereotypes.
(Reporting by Anna Pujol-Mazzini @annapmzn, Editing by Lyndsay
Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news,
women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and
resilience. Visit news.trust.org)