Bill Condon, the director of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, recently revealed in an interview that Gaston’s sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) is openly gay. This marks the first time in a Disney film that a character has been openly gay. This announcement has made a lot of people very upset for various reasons, leading some people to even declare they will be boycotting the film.
On the one hand, some people have voiced anger over a gay character and claim to be afraid that Disney and Hollywood are trying to force an LGBTQ+ agenda into the minds of children. But other people are also upset that Disney’s first openly gay character is the film’s “fool,” and is a villain. They feel that this will perpetuate negative stereotypes about gay people. Those who have seen the movie have admitted they only noticed the “LeFou is Gay” moments because all the controversy surrounding it made them pay close attention to that detail. Some even described the moments as “blink, and you’ll miss it” moments. With that being the case was all the uproar worth it?
In the animated Beauty and the Beast LeFou’s sexuality is never discussed. He could be either gay or straight, and you could argue that either one is true. There may even be more “proof” for LeFou being gay in that film. This man loves Gaston a little more than an admiring bro would. With the animated movie’s ambiguity in consideration, does his sexual orientation actually change the Lefou character?
No, not really. Especially when it is only presented in a “blink, and you’ll miss it” way. That’s the same way it was (or wasn’t) underlined in the animated feature. Would the majority of people have even noticed LeFou was gay if Condon hadn’t said anything? If we weren’t going to notice and the artistic liberty doesn’t change the character, that raises another question, “Who else might be gay?”
Whoever you want. Cogsworth could be gay. Mrs. Potts could be transexual. The women fawning over Gaston could be bisexual. Anyone in the film could have any sexual identity or orientation in the world, except Belle, the Beast, and Gaston. Unless romance is a quintessential part of a character’s story, their sexual orientation is unlikely to be important.
Too often we try to define characters by their sexual orientation and not by their actions. Isn’t that against the values of both the groups who expressed outrage at LeFou’s sexuality? Those concerned about an agenda contrary to their religious beliefs being indoctrinated into their children, generally believe in hating the sin and not the sinner. Those worried about Disney presenting a bumbling gay idiot want LGBTQ+ people to receive fair treatment. By making the conversation about LeFou’s sexuality, we are hurting both of those missions by defining LeFou as a gay man as opposed to a man. We aren’t letting LeFou be LeFou, which is all LeFou wants.
Within the context it is in the film, LeFou’s sexuality shouldn’t bother anyone. If a character’s sexual orientation is “blink, and you’ll miss it,” then it is hardly significant enough for outrage. That includes outrage toward a character for being gay or about which character is gay. He is LeFou, so we, the audience, should let him be LeFou regardless of his sexual orientation.