Pixar employees are now fighting back against their parent company due to claims that Disney has been a poor “ally” to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Despite Disney’s long history of supporting and funding progressive causes, the lack of immediate support for the progressive opposition of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which bans the teaching of sexuality and transgenderism to children between kindergarten through third grade, has led to infighting within their subsidiaries.
The bill has been dubbed the “Anti-Grooming” bill by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw.
In a letter that is a direct response to Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s company-wide email that declared the company was a “force for inclusion” and that the company would not be taking a public stance on the bill, these Pixar employees claim that Disney is not as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community as they claim.
The employees of the Disney-owned animated studio, that primarily creates movies aimed at children, also allege that Disney corporate executives have censored nearly every moment of overtly gay affection in Pixar films.
In contrast, these Pixar employees claims they have fought to include LGBTQ+ scenes in their movies.
The letter also chides Disney for not taking public action on the Florida given the company has made recent public statements regarding the invasion of Ukraine as well as coming out against a 2016 pro-life bill in Georgia.
Shared to Twitter in pieces by activist and opponent of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill Judd Legum, and later fully published by Variety, the letter begins, “We are writing because we are disappointed, hurt, afraid, and angry. In regards to Disney’s financial involvement with legislators behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, we hoped that our company would show up for us. But it didn’t.”
It continues, “Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community’, rang hollow. It began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone.”
From there, it goes on to accuse Disney of not being supportive enough of the LGBTQ+ movement, “Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s.”
“Additionally, Disney began capitalizing on Pride in 2018 with The Rainbow Mickey Collection, (while de-emphasizing the terms like LGBTQ+ and not even featuring explicitly LGBTQIA+ pieces such as Pride flag pins until 2021),” the letter claims.
Following those accusations it states, “To this end, it feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to “step back” in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk.”
Next, they addressed Chapek’s reason for not supporting the bill, mainly that he believes “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds.”
The letter implies Chapek and Disney leadership are hypocrites given the company-wide memo addresses the invasion of Ukraine before discussing the Florida bill.
The employees state, “The second claim stated that ‘corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds’. However, the very email making this claim opened with a corporate statement regarding the ongoing situation in Ukraine.”
“Eight days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Disney paused the release of theatrical films in Russia and announced ‘We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,'” the letter states. “Following the siege on the capital in 2021, Disney stopped all political donations to members of Congress who had objected to the presidential election results.”
Next, they point to Disney’s action against a pro-life bill in Georgia back in 2016, “In 2016, Disney told the state of Georgia: “We will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law” in response to the controversial Religious Liberty bill. By taking a stand, Disney directly affected the legislative outcome in Georgia. It has been proven that Disney’s corporate statements can and do make a difference.”
In their next point, they take issue with Chapek’s promise to create more LGBTQ+ content. It reads, “Finally, we come to the push for Content as the answer. 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.”
“Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is a protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar,” the letter asserts. “Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the ‘inspiring content’ that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.”
To that end the employees demand, “We are calling on Disney leadership to immediately withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to fully denounce this legislation publicly, and to make amends for their financial involvement.”
It then claimed Disney’s promise to donate $5 million to LGBTQ+ charities like the Human Rights Campaign was not enough, “While signing on to donate to the HRC is a step in the correct direction, the shareholder meeting on Wednesday made it clear that this is not enough.”
They explained why, “Throughout the shareholder meeting, Disney did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, they instead attempted to placate ‘both sides’ – and did not condemn hateful messages shared during the question and answer portion of the meeting. This is not what it means to ‘unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.’”
Next, they demanded Disney join them and come out against the bill, “Disney taking a stand by honoring their company values has changed the course of legislation in the past. If Disney is true in its values, it will take a decisive public stand against the discriminatory legislation occurring in Florida and offer tangible support for the LGBTQIA+ communities affected by bigoted legislation sweeping the country.”
“Stand against this bill in Florida and against the similar bills in South Carolina, Arizona, Virginia, and Tennessee,” the letter demands. “Stand against the transphobic legislation in Texas, Iowa, Utah, Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, and Alabama. Many hateful groups are attempting to eradicate us through legislation – we need you to stand with us entirely, not in empty words.”
As the letter concludes it takes issue with Chapek wanting to delay conversation about the bill to their Reimagine Tomorrow Summit, which is scheduled to happen in April.
It reads, “This matter is not something that can wait until Reimagine Tomorrow in April, or Pride Month in June. This matter needs to be addressed now.”
“This is urgent. 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth seriously considered suicide in 2021, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, with a large factor being the lack of support that these discriminatory legislations enable,” the letter alleges.
It concludes, “Disney claims to care for the welfare of children, but supporting politicians like this directly hurts one of their most vulnerable audiences. There are lives at stake and Disney’s support could save those lives. ‘We still have more work to do,’ your email said. This is that work.”
Pixar Animation Studios is responsible for numerous children’s movies such as The Incredibles, Toy Story, and Cars. Recently the studio has focused more content on the LGBT community such as the film “Onward,” which features a cyclops police officer named Specter, voiced by Lesbian filmmaker Lena Waithe, who is in a same sex relationship.
Other projects have included “Out,” on Disney Plus, about a gay man who struggles with coming out to his parents.
The injection of LGBT love scenes in these children films is not only disturbing for parents, but it is grounds for the films to be banned in regions such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia which is likely the source of Disney’s opposition to including even more LGBT content in their movies.
Disney has yet to address any of the claims by their Pixar employees.
What do you make of this letter and the demands it makes?