Opinion

March 3, 2017 11:11 AM

Spoiler Alert: What's the real deal with Disney's gay character in 'Beauty & the Beast'?

In a Facebook post, Franklin Graham wrote the new “Beauty and the Beast” “will feature a gay character in an attempt to normalize this lifestyle.” He warned that Disney is “trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children – watch out!” He concluded by suggesting that Christians boycott the company.

This follows the North Carolina evangelist’s attack on the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” (which he also has not seen), where he warned families not to “allow your young people to be sucked into Hollywood’s dark plan.”

Well, Franklin Graham has not seen “Beauty,” but I have. So here’s what he’s talking about.

Josh Gad, best known for the Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” and the animated hit “Frozen,” plays “Le Fou,” sycophantic sidekick to the swaggering Gaston (Luke Evans).

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Director Bill Condon told Attitude magazine that “Le Fou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. 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. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Well, I will give it away: For approximately four seconds, in a ballroom full of swirling male and female dancers who are changing partners, a young man whirls into the surprised Le Fou’s arms, and they dance happily away together. He does appear to be the first character acknowledged as gay in a Disney movie, whether animated or live-action, though rumors have long buzzed about Timon and Pumbaa in “The Lion King” and others.

Earlier scenes suggest Le Fou’s sexual uncertainty. He dances mincingly around a tavern during the song “Gaston,” then gives his idol a shoulder rub while singing his praises to assembled townspeople. A bit later in that number, he spins across the room and lands on the reclining Gaston’s lap, wrapping Gaston’s arms around him. “Too much?” he asks. The startled Gaston (Luke Evans) nods.

The hashtag #boycottdisney didn’t start with the “Beauty and the Beast” news, but it resurfaced on Twitter and Facebook, and a petition begun Wednesday night showed more than 25,000 signatures in 24 hours.

There’s no doubt that Gaston, the nastiest character in the film – as he was in the 1991 animated classic – is straight and wants to marry Belle (Emma Watson), if only to dominate her and complete his list of conquests. An interesting factoid: Evans is openly gay, while Gad is married to actress Ida Darvish and has two kids with her – and has said he’s proud to be playing Disney’s first gay character:

But some gay people feel that Le Fou – whose name means “the crazy one” or “the fool” – doesn’t mark much of an advance for Disney. The Daily Dot argued (again, without seeing the film) that his “role is to bolster Gaston’s confidence and help him take down the heroes. You can interpret this as a tragic story for Le Fou, but it’s hardly a high point for positive LGBT representation in 2017: a dweeb who hopelessly pines after a muscular straight guy.”

The movie opens March 16.

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