The Walt Disney Company is currently in hot water for supporting legislators who are behind Florida’s current “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which will ban educators from talking about LGBTQ+ issues in schools. The company got into even hotter water after its CEO, Bob Chapek, released a statement saying that the company made a bigger impact by telling “diverse stories” and inclusive content than by standing against the bill or using its money to combat it.
Now, many current and former Disney and Pixar employees are speaking out, alleging that the company has censored same-sex acttraction from movies, and demanding that the company do more to help real-life LGBTQ+ people while making money off of their projects.
In fact, Disney has been happy to make billions of dollars off of LGBTQ+ people for years, using gay artists, actors, writers, and performers to create many of their most iconic characters, shows, and movies. Here’s a look at some of the gay, bisexual, and lesbian people who made Disney what it is today.
This isn't even to mention the thousands of LGBTQ+ artists, writers, directors, animators, actors, musicians, and others who've worked on Disney shows and movies over the years, making the company what it is today. There are far too many of them to mention.
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Ortega is the choreographer and director responsible for some of Disney’s biggest hits on both the big and small screens. He directed the 1992 film Newsies, as well as 1993’s Hocus Pocus, before focusing on Disney Channel Original Movies. He’s the man behind all three High School Musical films, as well as The Cheetah Girls 2, and the Descendants trilogy. HSM and the Descendants films are two of Disney’s most profitable and lasting franchises.
The Lion King was a global phenomenon during the Disney Renaissance in the early '90s, and that’s due in large part to Elton John, who wrote and performed on the iconic soundtrack. His songs “Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” made the album become the best-selling soundtrack to an animated film at the time with over 7 million copies sold. John also won an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy for the soundtrack.
Frozen and Frozen II are Disney’s two most popular animated films, each grossing over a billion dollars for the company, and Groff plays one of the franchise’s three main characters. As Kristoff, Anna’s love interest, Groff has helped create one of Disney’s most profitable franchises to date.
Deja, a German-Polish artist, was the supervising animator on many of Disney's most iconic villains. He’s the man responsible for bringing Gaston, Jafar, Scar, and Enchanted’s Queen Narissa to life. He’s also responsible for animating characters like Roger Rabbit, King Triton, Hercules, and Tigger. He’s also the current resident specialist for the animation of Mickey Mouse, the company’s flagship character.
Showrunner Tim Federle is behind the popular Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series that launched the careers of stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett. Not only that, but he wrote and directed the film Better Nate Than Ever, based on his book of the same name, that will debut on Disney+ April 1, 2022.
For a while, you couldn’t watch the Disney Channel without seeing Hannah Montana. The famous pop singer played by Miley Cyrus was everywhere in the 2000s, and just about every girl wanted to be her or be friends with her. Thanks to Miley (and some other queer actors), the Disney Channel experienced an explosion of popularity in those years.
Another Disney Channel star who was absolutely everywhere in the 2000s was Raven-Symoné, who starred in her own show, That’s So Raven, for four seasons as well as voicing characters in shows like Kim Possible. She also starred in numerous DCOMs at the time, including Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and The Cheetah Girls. Her show was so iconic that it was rebooted as Raven’s Home in 2017.
Ashman, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1991 when he was just 40 years old, wrote many of Disney’s most beloved songs. He wrote the lyrics for classic songs like “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World,” and “Kiss the Girl” for The Little Mermaid, “Beauty and the Beast,” “Belle,” and “Be Our Guest” for Beauty and the Beast, and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. He won two Oscars, for “Beauty and the Beast” and “Under the Sea'.” Without Ashman, the classic Disney Princess sound wouldn’t exist.
The Danish author was likely both gay and asexual, and Disney loves to use his materials to make some of their biggest hits. They’ve adapted his story “The Little Mermaid” into a successful film, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” into The Emperor's New Groove, and turned his story “The Snow Queen” into the Frozen franchise.