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Disney’s Lightyear, the origin story for the real person the famous Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear is based on, will feature the company’s first-ever same-gender feature animation kiss.
The kiss is between prominent characters Alicia Hawthorne, voiced by Uzo Aduba, and another currently unidentified female character, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed. The characters’ relationship was always in the film, but during the creative process, conversations around intimacy were had, and the kiss was removed, though the characters’ roles were never reduced. Following the internal backlash around Disney’s previous public silence on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the decision was made last week to add the kiss back in.
In a March 9 letter to The Walt Disney Co. leadership, unnamed Pixar employees alleged that the company has “shaved down to crumbs” what representation they are allowed to put forth. “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
Pixar has featured LGBTQ representation, but much of it is obscure, metaphorical or in the background. Past representation has come with characters in films like Toy Story 4 and Finding Dory, both of which featured same-gender female parents in shots. The most prominent and overt onscreen representation has come in the form of Onward’s Officer Spector, voiced by Lena Waithe who acknowledges she has a girlfriend in a single line of dialogue. The film was banned in several West Asian countries as a result.
Luca is another notable Pixar film that has had many discussions around its possible LGBTQ representation, with director Enrico Casarosa stating that the team considering making the leads gay, but decided to instead focus on the relationship as a “pre-romance,” after basing it on a personal friendship dynamic when he was growing up.
“But it is a kind of love, right? There’s a lot of hugging and it’s physical and my experience as a straight man certainly wasn’t that. The things we did talk a lot about is what is the metaphor here for being a sea monster, for being different,” he told Insider. “My version was certainly we were two geeks, losery. But it’s so wonderful and even more powerful for the LGBTQ+ community who has felt so much of as an outsider, right, where this is so real and stronger than my experience.”
Lightyear is directed by Angus MacLane, with Buzz voiced by Chris Evans and a supporting cast of Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn and James Brolin. The film is out in theaters on June 17.
Variety was first to report the news.
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