In Disney Pixar’s film Lightyear, the first same-sex kiss featuring Black space ranger Alisha Hawthorne and her wife shouldn’t be a huge deal, but it holds great significance for both Disney Pixar and Black families and fans who have been longing for representation.
In recent months, it appears like Disney has taken several significant measures in the correct direction on diversity. From their Star Wars account publicly condemning racist remarks against Moses Ingram, who portrays Reva in their current Disney Plus original series Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Pixar’s newest animated picture Lightyear containing the first-ever same-gender kiss in an animated film. The Walt Disney Company is finally showing signs of advancement! And as a Black mother with a Black adolescent daughter who adores Disney, I’m glad they’re slowly coming together.
Obviously, they have encountered a few difficulties along the way. This is the significance of the same-sex kiss in Lightyear, which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
After the controversy caused by the “Don’t Speak Gay” bill, Disney decided to reinstate the same-gender kiss that had been removed from the picture. And despite the fact that Lightyear may not be Pixar’s finest effort (Thanks to an invite from Disney, my daughter and I watched the film a few days before its big-screen release.) I am pleased that Disney is progressing on the correct path in terms of representation.
I’ve already initiated a conversation with my 10-year-old daughter about various types of families. As our family enjoys movies and television, it makes natural that she was introduced to same-sex couples through Ava Duvernay’s Home Sweet Home. Now that she has seen Lightyear, she has finally witnessed a same-sex coupling on the big screen without any explanations from her mother. She didn’t even mention anything, which is precisely how things should be.
The Kiss Controversy of Pixar
Alisha Hawthorne, an extraordinary Black space ranger voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her spouse share a passionate kiss in the film Lightyear. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the connection was always a component of the plot. But, the kiss was eliminated during the creative process following “discussions about intimacy.” “After internal outrage over Disney’s prior public quiet on Florida’s ‘Don’t Speak Gay’ bill, it was decided to reinstate the kiss,” they said. But if the kiss was initially included in the film, why was it removed? Especially if it has such great significance for the Black LGBTQIA+ community.
Freelance writer from New York, New York, Ty Cole, says, in reference to the kiss, “I wish we didn’t have to have these conversations, and I hope it becomes commonplace in the future.” “People may be homosexual; who cares? As mportant as representation is, let people be themselves without apology.” And I completely concur!
Even Charlee Disney, a member of the Disney family, has expressed having “very few openly gay role models.” If you are Black, you know how hard it is to find accurate depictions of Black people on TV and in the media. Hence, if you are Black and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, your chances of finding representation on television are considerably lower.
The Need for LGBTQIA+ Representation
Oftentimes, children who don’t see themselves in the media tend to believe that what they see on television is correct and that who they are is wrong. And the last thing this world needs is more children who doubt themselves due to media consumption.
Despite the importance of on-screen representation for our children, Disney continues to pull back.
But there are several families, such as that of Nikkya Hargrove, a Black queer mother, and writer from Fairfield County, Connecticut, and yes, even my own, that would benefit from seeing a major company like Disney be unabashedly supportive of all types of families. You see, it’s not just crucial for LGBTQIA+ families. I am straight, but my parents frequently made homophobic comments about others in front of me as a child, which made me feel uncomfortable. Therefore, it is also vital for heterosexual families.
According to Hargrove, the Lightyear kiss reminds people that homosexual partners express affection similarly to heterosexual couples. She argues that such advancement in Disney’s portrayal demonstrates that “our children, our families, and our queer-identifying people who enjoy Disney and Pixar films are closer to being regarded as equals.”
Although we adored the bromance depicted in Luca, Disney missed yet another opportunity to represent the LGBTQIA+ community on screen in a significant way. Initially, Luca’s plot had a homosexual character, but this was altered.
Los Angeles resident Daric L. Cottingham asserts that no film has completely represented his homosexuality. “There are not enough Black LGBTQ experiences on the big screen,” he admits. I have found more representation in television series.
But, when it comes to children’s films, Disney always walks a delicate line, as if they’re afraid of alienating or angering its “less accepting” audience. This is why the same-sex kiss in the film Lightyear is so significant to me.
But despite the significance of the film and the same-sex kiss, it should not be treated as a joke. “The only people making a big deal about this are adults who believe their children are “too young” to learn about something that is normal for many of their peers,” according to Sa’iyda Shabazz, a Los Angeles-based queer writer, and mother. Queer individuals should not be contentious, and it is strange that this is still a topic of discussion in 2022.
LGBTQIA+ Moments in Films with a Younger Audience
When Disney began featuring more LGBTQIA+-friendly characters in PG-13 films, she proved her case. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) and Eternals (2021) also include “out and proud” characters; however these films are rated PG and aimed at a considerably younger audience than Lightyear, which is rated PG and rated G.
Are younger children prohibited from viewing LGBTQIA+ characters on-screen due to their age? There exists a distinction between a kiss between a mother and a father and a kiss between two characters of the same sex. Because Disney includes kissing between straight characters without hesitation. Thus, it is important to examine why brands, like Disney, continue to reject certain families despite claiming to value diversity.
Children should have the opportunity to view the world as it truly is and become acquainted with many types of households. Hence, when kids do encounter a buddy with same-sex parents, they will not be clueless or shocked.
Shabazz argues that a film like Lightyear normalizes same-sex relationships for children whose parents are not the same gender. She says, “Kids are far more tolerant than we give them credit for, so I don’t imagine this will have anything but a positive influence.” In an era where pop culture and the media are so influential, it only fits that we use them as a vehicle for change and acceptance of others as they are.
“I believe there is still much work to be done, but that we are moving in the right path. The nonchalance with which Lightyear portrayed the same-sex kiss indicates that we are being accurately represented. I just hope it continues in this manner,” Cee, a queer Hispanic mother, who also maintains the lifestyle blog What Cee Says, states the following. And as Shabazz puts it, “I’m not throwing them a parade for it, but I’m genuinely excited that it’s happening.”
Lightyear is a positive step in the right direction. Therefore I sincerely hope Disney continues to incorporate more diverse characters in their storylines, particularly those from the LGBTQIA+ community. Because, to quote Ty Cole, “people are homosexual, period.” People can be straight, and now it’s time to accept that people can also be gay. It’s 2023, for Christ’s sake!
Meaningful Related articles you might like: Online Counseling For Teens That Works Best, Online Counselling for Teens: What Parents Need to Know, Free Family Mental Health Resources