Pixar’s Lightyear Brings Back Same-Sex Kiss Amid Backlash Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

As the film landscape looks to grow with more inclusive content, the House of Mouse has found itself in the limelight yet again—and not for the right reasons. Disney‘s lack of public response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary school classrooms, and the revelation of its donation efforts to every politician who sponsored it, prompted LGBTQ+ employees and allies at Pixar Animation Studios to send a joint statement to Walt Disney Company leadership.

It claimed that Disney executives had made the conscious decision to censor “overtly gay affection” in its animated features, and has previously “shaved down” the depiction of the LGBTQ+ community in Pixar works “to crumbs.” In light of the staff backlash, the House of Mouse will now be reinstating a same-sex kiss in Lightyear that had previously been cut (via Variety).

The animated prequel for Toy Story‘s Buzz Lightyear features a meaningful relationship between two female characters, one of whom is Hawthorne, voiced by Orange Is The New Black‘s Uzo Aduba. A kiss between her and her partner was originally removed from the movie, but it has reportedly been restored. Not much else is known about the scene, however, as Lightyear is still months away from its opening date.

The decision marks an encouraging turning point for LGBTQ+ representation in both Pixar movies and feature animation, especially with Hawthorne expected to play a significant role in the narrative. Animated features have always shied away from portraying same-sex affection in a meaningful manner, and it’s certainly encouraging to have a precedent set for future works. While there are explicit LGBTQ+ depictions in adult-focused animation, the approach for PG or G rated films continues to be “tell, not show,” with Out likely to be the most overtly LGBTQ+ project in Pixar’s history. First released on Disney+, the 2020 short film follows a gay man as he struggles to come out to his parents.

Back in the real world, Disney’s slow response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill also saw Disney staff staging a walkout in protest earlier this week. CEO Bob Chapek then agreed to pause all political donations in Florida, and stated that the studio would “unequivocally stand” with LGBTQ+ staff in an internal statement.

Lightyear is slated to release on 17 June 2022, with Chris Evans lending his voice to Buzz Lightyear. Joining him are Taika Waititi, James Brolin, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Dale Soules, Efren Ramirez, Uzo Aduba, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Audran Cattin, and Mary Lewis.