Unless you've been living under a rock lately, then you'll know that Disney's live action version of their classic Beauty & The Beast is due for release this week...one of the most highly anticipated movie releases of recent years.
You'll also no doubt be aware of the furore that has surrounded the fact that the movie contains what is being hailed as the first LGBTQ Disney Character - incase you're not, I'll catch you up quickly - LeFou, Gastons pal and admirer, has been confirmed by director Bill Condon as having Disney's first "openly gay moment" during the movie.
Now the movie isn't out here yet and so I haven't personally seen it to comment on - but what I have seen is some of the backlash online.
This evening I was pointed in the direction of a blog post from an American mummy blogger who stated that she has cancelled her trip to Disneyworld in protest against Disney's "agenda to normalise homosexuality in our society" - the blogger in question noted that she also refrains from watching any TV shows which feature gay characters as she doesn't wish to allow entertainment into her home which goes against her beliefs as a Christian.
And this lady is not alone in her thoughts, the online petition asking Disney to reconsider their stance on this issue has over 120,000 signatures at present.
It seems that many parents are very upset with Disney right now, and do you know what?
So am I!
Here's what I'm upset about:
1) I'm upset that it's taken THIS LONG for an "openly gay" moment or character to be written into a Disney movie - in my opinion this is long overdue.
2) I'm upset that even now, this is only a "gay moment" ... and, from what I hear, only a mere suggestion that LeFou may be gay. Is it a step in the right direction? Sure! But is it enough? No, I don't think it is. Until all types of families in our society are represented regularly in Disney movies - in ALL kids movies and TV shows - I don't think it is ever enough.
A while ago, I saw this meme being shared around social media sites with the question "Would You Allow Your Kids To See This Disney Movie?"
My reaction when I saw it was "Yes, of course I would!" - and I was naive enough to think that all of the comments on it would be in agreement with me. They were not. And I was shocked. Which I guess just goes to show how sheltered my life is.
Ever since then, since long before there was any mention of the "gay moment" in Beauty & The Beast, I have thought about this meme often and hoped that soon there would be a movie like this released - a Disney movie containing an LGBT love story or at least something with central characters who are homosexual.
Of course not overtly sexual, but at a level appropriate for their ages - you see Cinderella and Prince Charming share a kiss, so something along those lines.
Because what our children see on screens and read about in books is a big part of what teaches them about the world around them. I want my children to be raised knowing that there is no such thing as a "normal" sexuality or a "normal" family unit - that everybody is different.
And as hard as I try to ensure that my children are raised to be accepting individuals who understand that love is love and that every family is made up differently - it is hard to truly push that message of normality across to them when every TV show they watch and every advert they see still features the same 1 Mum, 1 Dad family unit.
And if the fact that this is so rare in the mainstream media is something that I find upsetting, then how must the children who come from LGBT families feel when there is such a lack of representation of their families? When everything they watch shows another Mummy & Daddy? It took years for us to start seeing adoptive parents regularly represented in the media, surely the time is long overdue for LGBT families to be represented as standard?
I've heard people say that they're reluctant to let their kids see movies with mentions of gay relationships because it "raises difficult questions" - but how difficult can the questions be? The explanations are just as straight forward as they would be if your child was asking questions about heterosexual relationships - the answers are no different.
"Why is that man kissing that other man?" Because they're in love.
How is that difficult? What else could they possibly ask that you can't answer in the same way you would about a heterosexual relationship?
I've also seen people argue that Disney doing this is a "slippery slope"? A slippery slope towards what? Acceptance of other people?!
One thing that has shocked me is how many people I have seen condemn Disney for introducing a gay character to its movies, who are the same people that sang its praises for introducing a Black princess - they talked of how glad they were to finally be able to show their daughter a Princess who looked like her, but yet they seem to think that the same level of acceptance and inclusion shouldn't be given to homosexual people or their families? That they have no right to see themselves represented on screen?
I've seen people say that the purity of our children's minds need to be protected - and I agree. But I don't believe that it needs to be protected from understanding the world around them, I think It needs to be protected from the prejudices and hate in our society.
Our children are not born questioning what they see in the world....they only begin to question it when it is unfamiliar to them. If they are raised with exposure to homosexual relationships, they don't question that this is a normal part of life - and I'm sorry if you don't like that concept, but a normal part of life is exactly what homosexual relationships are. They are not something for you to agree or disagree with.
A while ago, my 3 year old son asked me if he could marry me when he grew up. I laughed and said "That's a very cute idea! You can't really marry your mummy but maybe you could marry somebody like Mummy"...he then asked if he could marry his Daddy. So what did I say? "Aww that's so sweet! You can't really marry your Daddy either, but maybe you could marry a man like Daddy".
And just like that, he knows that there are no rules about what gender of person he can marry when he's older. It was the most simple conversation in the world to have.
And sure, maybe he'll ask more questions as he gets older - and I'll answer them honestly too.
I'm sure that the people who were commenting on the many posts I read tonight about the "evil agenda" of this movie would condemn me for telling my son this and "leading my son down the wrong path", but I believe this is the right way to raise him...what could him having knowledge of the existence of homosexual people possibly do to him?! Will it make him*shock horror* gay?! As though it's something you become by power of suggestion?! And even if it did...SO WHAT?!
Homosexuality is nothing for me or him to be afraid of, it's not something to sweep under the rug and try not to talk about - it's just a part of life. Some people are straight, some people are gay and that's not changing - so the sooner everybody just gets used to that and starts letting their kids in on that fact the better off our society will be.
It disturbs me that so many people want all children to be sheltered from the mere existence of homosexual people in our community because it doesn't fit in with their own religious beliefs - well of course it's your own choice how you raise your children, and if you want to take the bibles teachings so literally then that's your call - I believe in God but I also believe in human rights. I believe that people should have the right to live and love freely. And I believe that love is always a blessing and always to be celebrated.
My son & I will be first in line to see Beauty & The Beast this weekend, and I live in hope that it won't be too long until we're lining up to see a Disney movie with central LGBT characters as a main storyline...not just a "gay moment".
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