Disney's Beauty and the Beast remake shouldn't have a tokenistic gay romance – the main characters should be gay

An LGBT person’s struggle with HIV/Aids shaped the original Beauty and the Beast story – so it makes sense to say that in an equal world, the Beast would have been gay, and Beauty would have been a devilishly handsome boy

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It was announced today, in the LGBT publication Attitude magazine, that in the upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast there will be a gay romance storyline for the first time in Disney’s history.

LeFou, the sidekick to the grotesque antagonist Gaston, will allegedly come to terms with his sexual feelings for Gaston throughout the course of the film.

Predictably, the immediate and most vocal online reaction was one of scorn.

“They just could have just made Cogsworth and Lumiere a couple and be done with it!” scoffed one Facebook user, referring to the animated clock and candlestick holder characters.

Similar vitriol reared its head when J K Rowling revealed Dumbledore’s LGBT backstory in Harry Potter. “The sorting hat is transgender!” mocked one viral tweet, ridiculing what some people saw as Rowling’s desperation to make a political statement.

Whenever LGBT characters are represented in mainstream stories, the producers are accused of shoehorning them in where they are not “necessary”. The addition of LGBT characters seems to always be perceived as a forced political statement. The implication is that LGBT characters don’t exist in real life, and could never arise in a fairytale organically.

Beauty And The Beast Social - Exclusive Teaser Launch Event with Cast & Crew

The overwhelming question that’s circulating at the moment seems to be: “Why does Beauty and the Beast need a gay character?” But this is the wrong question to ask.

What we should be asking is: “Why wasn’t Beauty and the Beast always a gay story?”

The lyricist for the original Beauty and the Beast movie, Howard Ashman, was a gay man living with HIV. His experience of living with this disease helped to shape the storyline of the Beast in the original film. As director Bill Condon explained to Attitude: “Specifically for him it was a metaphor for Aids. He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted.”

LGBT people have permeated society since the beginning of time, but their narratives have been missing from mainstream stories throughout history – not because they didn’t belong there, but because homophobic society repressed them, buried them, and snuffed them out.

We have been brainwashed by homophobic society to see the presence of LGBT characters as incongruous and jarring, but we should recognise that the absence of these characters is the real absurdity.

When LGBT characters are included, they are not being “shoehorned in”. They are simply being allowed to return, after being actively cut out and forcefully excluded for centuries.

If we are to be outraged about anything, it should be the fact that this representation is not enough. What we should be asking is: why we are forced to survive on scraps? Why are we being tossed breadcrumbs of acknowledgement when we deserve the whole cake?

An LGBT person’s struggle with HIV/Aids shaped the original Beauty and the Beast story – so it makes sense to say that in an equal world, the Beast would have been gay, and Beauty would have been a devilishly handsome boy. Why are we being relegated to a subplot within a bigger story? Why is the only gay character in the film a slimy, sycophantic, villain’s sidekick? This story is about us. Why isn’t the Beast gay?

Another Disney movie, Frozen, was praised when it came out for including a brief, subtle reference to a gay family. These half-hearted nods are not enough. When will we have a Disney movie of our own?

When will we be allowed to simply exist and have our stories told without being accused of pushing some political agenda? Because we shouldn’t be asking why the Beauty and the Beast film needs a minor gay character. We should be asking why Beauty and the Beast weren’t a gorgeous gay couple from the very beginning.

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