From Oscar Isaac to Gabrielle Union: The actors who’ve criticised Disney over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Hope Disney ‘comes out as forcefully as possible against this idea’, Moon Knight star Oscar Isaac says

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 23 March 2022 06:12
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Gabrielle Union appears to call out Disney over 'Don't Say Gay' bill
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More Disney talent has come out in support of the company’s LGBT+ staff currently protesting their employer’s response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Officially named the Parental Rights in Education bill, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill restricts schools from teaching students about sexual orientation and gender issues. Should teachers refuse to acknowledge the new rules, they will face lawsuits.

Reports from The Independent and other news organisations revealed that Disney donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican legislators and state officials who supported the bill, which led Disney CEO Bob Chapek to announce that the company would be “pausing” all political donations in the state.

However, according to a statement from protesting workers, Chapek’s response, in which he apologised for not being “a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights”, failed to “match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation”.

Disney – the state’s largest private employer and a political heavyweight in the state – has now faced weeks of pressure from company staff and LGBT+ advocates urging leadership to leverage the company’s massive influence to publicly lobby against the bill.

Following criticism from Gabrielle Union (Cheaper by the Dozen) and Kerry Washington (who stars in Disney-owned ABC series Scandal), other Disney and Marvel actors have spoken out against the “ridiculous” piece of legislation that was recently passed by the state of Florida.

Here’s what they’ve said about the discriminatory bill:

The Hulk star Mark Ruffalo on Tuesday (22 March) tweeted: “Standing proud and in solidarity with our LBGTQIA+ family! #SayGay#DisneyWalkout”

Daily walkouts at Disney offices this month culminated in a full workday protest on Tuesday, with company employees demanding Disney indefinitely halt all political donations to state officials who created or helped pass the measure.

Oscar Isaac, who is set to make his Marvel superhero debut with Moon Knight later this month criticised the “ridiculous law” in a statement to Variety.

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“It’s insane. It’s insanity. And I hope that Disney as a company comes out as forcefully as possible against this idea. It’s astounding that it even exists in this country,” the 43-year-old Oscar nominee said.

Disney child actor and star of the forthcoming Raven’s Home, Raven-Symone on Tuesday announced that the cast of the series will be “walking out” to support its “LGBTQ+ family and all of those who will be damaged by the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill”.

“Education that reflects the truth and the world we live in is something we must fight for,” she said on Instagram.

American comedian Larry Wilmore on Tuesday tweeted: “We’re taking the time today on set to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ employees of Disney. We’re all in this together!!”

Wilmore serves as the executive producer of Disney-led Onyx Collective’s new legal drama Reasonable Doubt, with Washington.

In her widely shared online statement, Washington said she doesn’t “condone the actions or inactions of Disney”.

“I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQIA+ employees, and stand with them in this walk out today,” Washington said, adding: “Please know that you matter. Your rights matter. Your voices matter. I encourage you all to help their voices ring louder today.”

Encanto animator Rebecca Perez posted a photo of Disney’s Animation Studio employees participating in the company-wide walkout on Twitter, in support of “our fellow Florida co-workers and LGBTQIA+ community.”

Gabrielle Union, who stars opposite Zach Braff in a remake of Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, was asked about the bill while attending the film’s premiere on Wednesday (16 March).

She said: “Somebody asked me, ‘Are you disappointed?’ I’m disappointed when my order isn’t right at In-N-Out. I don’t even think that’s a word that you could use for something like this, where children’s lives are literally hanging in the balance.”

Late night show host, comedian and the voice of The Lion King character Zazu, John Oliver has previously called Disney “morally bankrupt” for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican senators backing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“Marginalised creators have made billions of dollars for Disney,” Oliver said on 13 March. “Now, should it embarrass them that it took them until this week to realise that they shouldn’t take that money and use it to actively undermine those creators’ interests? Who’s to say? I’ll tell you. I am. I’m Zazu, remember?”

“And while I haven’t been invited back for the prequel yet, after tonight I’ve got a pretty good feeling about it.”

Other Disney actors like Mark Hamill have, without naming the company, backed the protests against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Disney-owned companies like streaming services Disney+ and Hulu, sports channel ESPN and Marvel Studios have publicly condemned “Don’t Say Gay” on social media.

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