Keeping pace with fast-changing cultural and societal mores — particularly regarding sexuality — has been challenging for Walt Disney Studios. More than most of its Hollywood rivals, Disney aims films at a broader audience, from preschoolers to grandparents. Disney also specializes in that most archetypical of storytelling genres: fairy tales.
Disney executives blanched last year, when a movement materialized online to demand that Elsa, the independent, prince-free princess from “Frozen,” be given a girlfriend in the coming sequel. But Disney does not want to be stuck in the past, either. And so it seems to have tiptoed toward open homosexuality in its new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Bill Condon, who directed the film, and is openly gay, told the British magazine Attitude that the manservant LeFou, played by Josh Gad, has “a nice, exclusively gay moment” in the movie, which has its premiere here on Thursday and arrives in theaters in the United States on March 17.