Disney

Is Heartwarming Gay Pixar Short ‘Out’ a sign of more LGBTQ representation to come from Disney?

For years LGBTQ Disney/Pixar fans have been calling out for more representation in the animated universe. We have seen many gay coded characters and minor characters have been revealed to be gay see ‘Zootopia’ and recent Pixar film ‘Onward’. I have written before about Disney’s history of Coded Gay characters and LGBTQ representation which you can read here.

The Short film ‘Out’ landed on Disney + at end of May, as part of Pixar’s Smart Short series. This is the most visible LGBTQ representation from Pixar and Disney to date, with the short centring around main character Greg who is struggling to come out as gay to his parents. I loved this short, it has the same charm as many of the other great Pixar shorts and also lovely to finally see concrete LGBTQ representation from Pixar/Disney. Hopefully this is a good sign of what’s to come from their future feature films.

It is a great short and I highly recommend checking it out.

Trailer for ‘Out’

P.S. had to do a bonus drawing of Gigi The Cat and the Dog

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5 Things to do While Self-Isolating

Hi, The world has changed quite a bit since my last post, we find ourselves living in a very strange time, Oh how I long for the days of constant GDPR emails instead of these COVID-19 ones! I decided to self isolate last week and I’m now doing my main job from home. I thought that as most us are currently isolated/quarantining I would compile a short list of things to do while we are in this situation, I hope you find it useful.

1.Keeping in touch with loved ones via technology

Whether it is via text,call,video chat or social media, technology allows us to remain in touch with the people closest to us. Free video conferencing app Zoom is very popular at the moment, people have been hosting house parties, game nights and even virtual pubs via the free app.

2. Reading

Now is the perfect time to read a new book, I’m currently reading ‘The Beast Within’ by Serena Valentino the second of of series of books which slightly twists the tales of various Disney villains. They are a fun read and would recommend for any Disney fans out there. I have also recently finish Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ a hybrid memoir and self help book for those dealing with depression. This is great book with good tips for coping with these stressful and uncertain times. If you have a library card many libraries offer downloads on their website of e-books and audiobooks to read/listen to.

3. Watching TV

Whether you prefer streaming a good film or binge watching a boxset there is a plenty of content out there to watch while being isolated. As I always would recommend The OA (Netflix) its not only great escapism but also a story full of hope and people joining together. If you are looking for something a bit more gentle and light hearted recommend another of my favourites Steven Universe (Netflix,Now Kids, Amazon), a lovely animation with quirky and lovable characters. Like I said there is so much choice out there, most of the shows I mentioned in my top 10 TV Shows of the decade list are available to stream. With so many streaming services out there Netflix, Prime Video, Now TV and the recently launched in the UK, Disney +, you really are spoilt for choice!

4. Dancing

My partner recently bought me Just Dance for Christmas and I absolutely love it! Not only is it great fun, you also get a good workout out of it which is great especially if you are confined to your home. Alternatively there are dance videos on Youtube you can dance along to and also live dance parties online, dancer Mark Kanemura has been hosting live dance parties on Instagram (link below)

5. Being Creative

I love drawing whenever I’m going through a stressful time, I find it very therapeutic and sometimes even find the stress fuels my creativity. So I encourage everyone to express themselves at this very odd time in our existence, to draw, write, make music, sew, crochet, or participate in any other creative outlet you have.

Remember we will get through this and by staying home we are saving lives. Stay Safe everyone.

See you on the next blog post – Josh 🙂

P.S below is a recent Wedding card design I created,

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Love Is An Open (Closet) Door – Why Disney needs LGBTQ Characters

After years of Princesses and Princes, isn’t it about time for a Prince and a Prince or a Princess and a Princess?

Disney films are very popular with many members of the LGBTQ Community, with their themes of love, acceptance and finding yourself resonating with many members of the LGBTQ crowd, but as of yet there is no major LGBTQ Disney character.

If Disney introuced a canonically LGBTQ character this would be a great win for representation, helping to create more acceptance and normalisation of the community. Growing up in the 90s I had very little in the way of gay role models, most gay characters represented in the media were 2-dimensional caricatures, often not taken seriously and most definitely not the hero/main character of the story! I feel that if I had, had a gay Disney character to relate to when I was growing up, I would not have struggled as much with accepting myself and internalised homophobia, I would love for the younger generation to have this character I never had growing up.

With campaigns on Twitter to give Elsa from Frozen a female love interest in the ‘Frozen 2’ (#GiveElsaAGirlfriend) trending, it does seem a large majority is on board for Disney to make an LGBTQ character a reality. Whether disney has the courage to make this decision is yet to be seen. I personally think that Elsa would make a great LGBTQ character as her storyline in the first film has parallels to how it feels growing up as person who is LGBTQ, having a secret that no one knows, fear of being seen as monster if people find out etc. Also ‘Let It Go’ has always seemed like a coming out anthem to me, whether intentionally or not.

Iconic characters such as Ursula, Jafar, Hades and Scar are all examples of ‘coded’ gay characters, this is where a character is not explicitly LGBTQ but is heavily implied to be from stereotypes eg they are ‘camp’. WAIT! what do all these characters have in common? Oh right, they are villains! Probably not the most positive LGBTQ representation, but hey! We do have ‘good guy’ coded-gay characters Timon and Pumbaa I guess, may I add Simba was raised by two Dad’s and he turned out fine!

Scar, Ursula and Jafar are ‘coded gay’ villains

There are positive and negatives to coded gay characters, like I’ve said they do often seem to be villains, which negatively impact the stereotypes they are based off. But then again these villainous characters are still great characters and do give some slight representation to the LGBTQ community. Ursula was based on real life drag queen ‘Divine’ which is a nice homage to the late Harris Glenn Millstead who portrayed her,

Disney do seem to be heading in the right direction to actually making a LGBTQ character reality, although I do feel they have made a few missteps along the way. If you have not heard them term “Exclusively Gay Moment” think yourself lucky! This term was brought to us in 2017 by director Bill Condon referring to a scene in the ‘Beauty and Beast’ live action remake, Condon mentioned the phrase in an interview and it then got picked up by various news outlets. At last it seemed we were going to get major LGBTQ representation in a disney film, the “Exclusively Gay Moment” was two male characters dancing together on screen for about 0.8 seconds! I mean it is a small step in the right direction but the way this scene was hyped up, you would have expected a bit more than this tiny moment before the credits roll, also not great that one of the characters in question’s name literally translates to “The Fool”!”

The film Avengers Endgame a Disney property recently received backlash for there first ‘gay’ character. They decided to make their first LGBTQ essentially a background character who is on screen for a minimal amount of time, with the vast amount of these films, its surprising that none of the main characters of the MCU so far are LGBTQ.

Like I said Disney are making some missteps in trying to achieve more inclusion, but I do appreciate that they are trying, although with how other studios are integrating LGBTQ characters seamlessly, it does feel like they are a couple of laps behind.

Disney Channel shows on the other hand have handled LGBTQ characters excellently from what I have seen, Good Luck Charlie did a good job of normalising the fact one of the secondary characters had two Mothers. Andi Mack another disney channel show did a great job covering main character ‘Cyrus’ coming out to his friend without using any labels, this was a heartwarming and very well executed scene. ‘Andi Mack’ later followed this up with Cyrus coming out casually to another character in the show, actually saying the words “I’m Gay’, something we wouldn’t have seen a decade ago on Disney Channel!

Andi Mack’s Cyrus casually comes out

Disney’s animated shows Gravity Falls and Star vs The Forces Of Evil have also given us LGBTQ representation, with Gravity Falls confirming that two male characters where in fact a couple and The Forces of Evil had a scene featuring of various couples (including same-sex ones couples) kissing.

It does look hopeful that we will get a LGBTQ Disney character (in a feature film) in the not too distant future, with Disney showing more and more acceptance of the community. June 1st 2019, Disney will be holding its first official pride event at Disneyland Paris titled ‘Magical Pride’ which will feature a diversity parade and performances from Boy George, Years and Years and Corine. The Disney Store have also recently launched their pride collection including badges, t-shirts and a rainbow Mickey plush toy.

Gay playwright and Lyricist Howard Ashman was instrumental in writing songs for films such as Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin with composer Alan Menken. Ashman tragically passed away from AIDS in 1991, he had kept his diagnosis a secret and had been working on songs for Aladdin from his hospital bed. Ashman died before the release of Beauty and The Beast which featured an homage to Ashman in the credits “To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and beast his soul, we will be forever grateful” Ashman’s story is a very sad one, in a time where an AIDS diagnosis was a life sentence and so stigmatised, that you would have to keep it a secret.

Howard Ashman wrote lyrics for many classic disney songs like ‘Beauty and The Beast’, ‘Belle’, ‘Under The Sea’, ‘Part of Your World’ and ‘Prince Ali’. As the end credits of Beauty and The Beast state he gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, it would be lovely if Disney returned the favour and created a gay character in tribute to Howard Ashman.

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