After 'Don't Say Gay' Outcry, Disney Reinstates Lesbian Kiss Snipped from Buzz Lightyear Movie

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday March 21, 2022

Buzz Lightyear
Buzz Lightyear  (Source:Disney/Pixar)

Disney suits, accused of censoring same-sex love in Pixar films, have put a scene showing a lesbian kiss back into Pixar's upcoming Chris Evans-starring "Toy Story" prequel, "Lightyear."

The move follows an outcry over Disney's political contributions to all of the Republican state lawmakers behind Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, along with the company's delay in responding to the bill, and allegations from workers at Pixar (the Disney-affiliated animation studio) "claiming that Disney executives had actively censored 'overtly gay affection' in its feature films," Variety reported.

The kiss is reportedly between two characters in a "Toy Story" prequel titled "Lightyear" that centers on Buzz Lightyear and "feature[s] a significant female character, Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), who is in a meaningful relationship with another woman," Variety detailed.

"While the fact of that relationship was never in question at the studio, a kiss between the characters had been cut from the film," the Variety article went on to add.

"Following the uproar surrounding the Pixar employees' statement and Disney CEO Bob Chapek's handling of the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, however, the kiss was reinstated into the movie last week."

Variety speculated that the reversal might signal "a possible major turning point for LGBTQ representation" in animated films, where — especially when a G or PG rating is being sought — "the pervasive approach has been to tell, not show — and only barely at that."

Case in point: Variety referenced "The Mitchells vs. The Machines," where the lead character — a young woman named Katie — is a lesbian, but that fact "is only fully revealed in the final moments of the film when her mother makes a passing reference to her girlfriend."

UK newspaper The Guardian detailed another instance, in which, in Pixar's animated feature "Onward, Lena Waithe voiced a lesbian cop but her girlfriend was never seen."

Even so, "The brief scene led to the film being banned in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," The Guardian recalled.

The Guardian said that a letter from Pixar employees claims that "beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were," with scenes showing same-sex affection removed.

Staffers at Disney also showed their displeasure with the company's handling of the situation by staging walkouts, The Guardian recalled.

"Lightyear" is slated to hit theaters in June.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.