Should we be worried about Disney incorporating a gay character in Beauty and the Beast?

Published: March 17, 2017
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Fine, you “shield” your children from this “morally-corruptible” gay character now, but what happens when that child ventures into the world and encounters gay people?

The inclusion of a gay character in Disney’s latest flick, a remake of Beauty and the Beast, has outraged many conservative Christians who believe that Disney is trying to push a “harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply held beliefs of countless parents and families”.

Franklin Graham, a right-wing evangelical preacher marred in controversies, recently wrote on his Facebook account,

“(Disney is) trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out! … I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney”.

Graham’s Facebook post has been shared nearly 95 thousand times at this time of writing, and a petition boycotting Disney by Lifesitenews, a popular conservative Christian website, has received more than 129,000 signatures.

Make no mistake about it: Homophobia, like Islamophobia, thrives on a provincial mind-set that categorises difference as a threat which must be eliminated or forced to the edges of society. Fed by misinformation and simplistic deductions, it has grown into a phenomenon which threatens the very existence and well-being of gay people in our societies because of our unwillingness to understand and accommodate them.

In the context of America, this is particularly alarming given the fact that a whopping 81% of evangelical Christians voted for a man who has boasted about bedding married women and has admitted to grabbing women’s genitals without permission. Yet, Donald Trump remains the sweetheart of these “morally-conscious” Christians while all hell breaks loose at a Disney movie normalising gay people who have and continue to suffer tremendously for something as personal as their sexuality.

The notion that the movie is being boycotted just because of a gay character is utterly incomprehensible, as it is purposeless. Fine, you “shield” your children from this “morally-corruptible” gay character now, but what happens when that child ventures into the world and encounters gay people?

How are you, as the responsible, concerned parent that you are, to ensure that your child is brought up in a way that he can learn to respect diversity, and can co-exist with different kinds of people? Paula, founder of the website, beautythroughimperfection explores this idea rather well:

“I’ve seen articles online making it sound like this film would feature full on make-out sessions between men. That didn’t happen.That would be completely inappropriate for children and boycott worthy, regardless of the genders of those making out, but that’s not what this film is. In my opinion, everything was age appropriate and on par with other children’s films these days (as far as content/themes).

I want my kids growing up in a world where they are taught to love everyone and I think Beauty and the Beast did a wonderful job reinforcing values that I want my kids to have. I think kids will see that mainly in the way Belle and the Beast fall in love with each other, but also in the way the palace servants love the Beast and how he grows to love them and in Maurice being such a loving old man”.

It is one thing to disagree with someone’s lifestyle, and completely another to lose all human decency because of that disagreement. I do not mind people taking stands for what they believe in, and boycotting things that go against their personal values. But notice I say things because when the boycott is against a set of people, it remains no longer a harmless boycott but ventures into bigotry and xenophobia.

As Elliot Gladwin says,

“If you are this appalled and disgusted by a fictional character who may suggest a same-sex affinity then how do you think real life people who struggle with same-sex attraction think you perceive them?”

This boycott is nothing but a logic-defying, sensationalist move by the Christian right leadership in order to bully a minority group, and divide society further. Such acts of blatant discrimination pose serious consequences, and feed into a culture responsible for bullying, beating and innumerable suicides. It is high time that religious conservatives, with blood on their hands, come out of their shell and embrace gay people for what they are: human beings, just like us.

Rohail Waseem

Ro Waseem

The author is a Muslim who writes about Progressive Islam. He runs a weekly blog on Patheos (www.patheos.com/blogs/quranalyzeit) and has contributed some of his articles to Huffington Post, Onfaith, & Tikkun, among others. He tweets as @Quranalyzeit (twitter.com/quranalyzeit)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rohan

    Doubt the mullahs accept gays.Maybe the author should write about that tooRecommend

  • salman

    I’m boycotting this movie, because I’ve already seen it in animated version! (couldn’t give two hoots about which characters are gay or not). I’m gonna watch mad max: fury road again….Recommend

  • Wasim Francis

    so Christians should accept gays..what about Muslims and Islam..would you and the country you live in accept such inclusion of gay characters kissing each other in a Pakistani movie…Recommend

  • Wasim Francis

    seriously moderator at express tribune..you did not publish my comment because I asked if Muslims and Islam would accept gays..hypocritesRecommend

  • Khurram Chaudhry

    The story is about a girl who falls in love with a buffalo and people are worried about a gay character?Recommend

  • ab

    Accept gays,accept alcohol, accept Isreal, stop hanging. Just for the acceptance of the world. Who do you think we are. They will not accept us unless we become among them. Muslims should stop having apologetic explanation of Islam and proudly say that they are Muslims.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    ofcourse we should be worried. This is simply part of West’s gay agenda.

    FYI, Pakistani libtards are so clueless they dont eve know being gay is a white thing = a culture/idea introduced by white people = western school of thought = originated FROM the WEST.
    This is a FACT. Look it up!

    Now, all of a sudden as of part 8 or 10 years, theres this unnecessary hype and hoopla about gay. Sure, people are born gay even though science cant even prove it and theres no such thing as gay gene.

    Issue is, west has their school of thought about being gay which is to accept it. In Islam, you ignore it. You dont act upon those feelings just like you are told to not act upon feelings of looking at na mahram.

    So then Im not sure why fake liberals are making such a big deal about it? If you know someone whose going through this, tell them that in the good old days people didnt have such feelings and even if they did they would ignore and wouldnt act upon it. So we should be following the customs of our forefathers as well.
    Its just part of wests gay agenda which they have bombarded now on innocent kids through media, pop culture etc. etc.Recommend

  • farhan

    hollywood trying to brainwash people..trying to putt things in our sub concious so we accept these thingsRecommend

  • nimra

    I am not hateful towards any person no matter how different he/she with respect to my ideas of being a moral person is, but I will not promote anything which God has clearly prohibited (it is not even open to discussion) and I will definitely have my say on it if it is being promoted in any way because as a staunch believer in the values taught to me by Allah and his messenger (S.A.W) my role is to speak against the vice. Ofcourse many people who already are homophobe or have any other personal agenda will then use my comments to fuel their own propaganda but God knows my intention was to speak against the vice for the better good of the people living in this time and for the generations to come. I cant keep submitting myself to the changes the world is bringing, no matter how subtle the changes are, how do you expect to remain morally intact when you go on changing the standards with time in the name of progression or whatever. We muslims are ourselves victims because of our lack of critical thinking and wavering belief in our own values.Recommend

  • Bilal

    Yes indeed gays are human beings just like us, but they are committing an immoral act which is something we need to protect our children and society from. That’s why some Christians have woken up and have realized that their values are being attacked by influences of the media. The author who claims to be a “progressive Muslim” I wonder if he knows what happened to the people of Lut (A.S). If we want to save ourselves from the punishment of Allah than we need to advocate against these actions or else we will end up just like Kuffar rather than aiming to please them.Recommend

  • Fatima Altaf

    Seriously, ET? I actually cant believe my eyes that I’m reading this in a local newspaper. Wake up. This is Pakistan, not a confused western society where we have to “accept” homosexual individuals as part of our society. By the way, homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder before the American Psychological Association decided to remove it from the DSM. Recommend

  • jesica wilde

    nice blogRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Sometimes men love other men, and women love other women. Your permission is not required for what they do privately with one another’s consent.Recommend

  • Agha

    This article is ironic and hypocritical at best. Granted that US has homophobia but it is no where near the intensity that is present in muslim world. Evangelicals and the “immoral” Trump are not calling for the death of gay people. They are just protesting a character’s inclusion in a kid’s movie. Though I do not agree with them but it is their right to protest. You are so much worried about homophobia in US (you even equate it with islamophobia geez, they are NOT comparable) but say nothing whatsoever the miserable position of gays in islamic countries. Recommend

  • Agha

    “By the way, homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder before the American Psychological Association decided to remove it from the DSM.”
    Yes they learned. They learned that they were wrong. So are you going to latch onto previous opinions of APA but not the current one by the SAME APA? (a tad hypocritical don’t you think?) Or are we going to learn and move on?Recommend

  • Agha

    “ofcourse we should be worried.” Of course, if we are bigots we should worry. You know those westerners are trying to take away our “right” to persecute others. Should definitely be worried.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    thank you sister agha.Recommend