Earlier this month, a group of concerned Pixar employees released a statement claiming executives at parent company Disney had censored all attempts to portray instances of “overtly gay affection” from storylines.
Now, according to a more recent report, Variety has learned a same-sex kiss between characters in the beloved animation studio's upcoming animated film Lightyear has been restored after it was earlier cut.
Lightyear is the Toy Story origin story, with Chris Evans replacing Tim Allen in the title role of Buzz Lightyear. The movie, which is is scheduled for release this June, never hides that female main character Hawthorne (voiced by Orange Is the New Black alum Uzo Aduba) is in a relationship with another woman. However, a kiss between Hawthorne and another female character was reportedly originally cut.
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were,” the employees wrote in the letter decrying decisions like the removal of the kiss with Hawthorne. “Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
Disney had been harshly criticized these past few weeks for its lack of opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bills. The laws would bar classroom discussion of sexuality and gender identity for some grade levels. Reports have shown that Disney has financially contributed to every sponsor and cosponsor behind the bill.
Disney initially issued a statement saying that the company “understands” the importance of the issue and felt that its “biggest impact” comes from creating inclusive content. This caused further backlash as the company did not address its donations. In an internal Disney email to cast members, Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended the company and said corporate statements “do very little to change outcomes or minds” and reiterated the focus on creating inclusive content.
Following continued outrage from employees and the public, Chapek changed course and expressed his opposition to the bill directly with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He also signed a letter in opposition to the legislation but the move wasn’t enough for LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign which said it will refuse further donations from Disney until the company takes “meaningful action” to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Lightyear is set for release on June 17 and features Chris Evans, Uzo Adulba, James Brolin, Keke Palmer, Dale Soules, Taika Waititi, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. The story follows Buzz Lightyear as after he is marooned on a remote planet where he and his talking cat toy companion named Socks are pursued by robots and other creatures who mean them harm.