(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MD Top 10: Disney Toons in the Glass Closet


Much has been made about the “coming out” of LeFou, the bumbling sycophant sidekick of the hunky villain Gaston in Disney’s latest live action redo of one of their animated classics, Beauty and the Beast

Redneck states and even whole countries are scrambling to ban or restrict the film, and homophobic internet trolls (who you know haven’t even seen it) have already tried to sabotage its Internet Movie Database score with low ratings (in contrast, its CinemaScore rating, which polls actual theatergoers, is a solid A). Even so, actual film critics are calling it a Beauty (by the way, our Dearest review will be posted shortly) and this box office Beast in the making just set the record for the biggest March opening day ever.

Which all seems like much ado about nothing, or at least much ado about something that was pretty obvious 26 years ago for anyone who viewed the beloved 1991 original through a queer eye: yep, LeFou has always been pretty gay. In fact, since the very first Disney animated feature eight decades ago, there has been gay characters aplenty through the years, one just has to know how to read the (often none too subtle) subtext to see into their glass closets.

For example:

1. The Seven Dwarfs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937):
If that many dudes living in the same house doesn’t raise an eyebrow, what about the fact that the pure as the driven snow Snow has nary a qualm about moving in with them? Yes, they aren’t exactly tidy, but they sure are interested in learning all about girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

2. Willie the Operatic Whale, Make Mine Music (1946):
He’s an “Operatic Whale”. What else is there to say?

3. The Grand Duke, Cinderella (1950):
You know he was just dying to try on those glass pumps.

4. Captain Hook, Peter Pan (1953):
At the start of the long list of effeminate Disney villains (see also: Aladdin’s Jafar, The Lion King’s Scar) is the “Elegant” Captain Hook. With his dainty lace accents and expertly waxed moustache, it is no wonder that this chicken hawk is so obsessed with the ultimate twink (remember he never grows up) Peter Pan.

5. Just About Everyone, The Jungle Book (1967): A bossy queen (Bagheera) and a big lovable bear (Baloo) are the de facto gay dads of Mowgli, who every guy in the jungle “wants”. The “mancub” is seduced by a lisping snake (read: phallic symbol), abducted by an all male band of party animals and hunted by a tiger velvety-voiced by George frikkin’ Sanders, thus proving that The Jungle Book is like the gayest movie ever.

6. Edgar, The Aristocats (1970): Yes, this scheming butler was English so it may be hard to nail down the gay, but how about this: his whole diabolic criminal plan was to steal… cats.

7. Ratigan, The Great Mouse Detective (1986): No, it’s not the tired “Holmes and Watson bromance” meme that will set off your gaydar in this talking animal take on the iconic sleuth. Rather, it is its rodentified version of Sherlock’s nemesis Moriarity, who not only talks like Vincent Price and owns a pet cat named Felicia, but also tries to pass as a mouse when he’s really a self-loathing closeted rat. No wonder he wants to go into politics.

8. Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King (1994): Two misfit outcasts find each other and shack up in a jungle paradise where they spend their days exchanging witty banter and belting out show tunes (composed by Elton John no less). Also: Timon (voiced by Nathan Lane no less), at the drop of a hat, knows exactly how to dress in drag and do the hula.

9. Wiggins, Pocahontas (1995): As the aide-de-camp to the pompous (and equally queerish) Governor Radcliffe, he’s the original perky P.A., one who doesn’t balk at tending to the boss’s prissy pug and is an expert gift basket maker. Fun fact: out actor David Ogden Stiers performed the voices of both Radcliffe and Wiggins.

10. Pleakley, Lilo & Stitch (2002): It’s not surprising that this one-eyed alien “Earth expert” who takes a liking to sporting wigs and wearing mu’umu’us is voiced by Kevin McDonald, best known for his often-cross-dressed performances on the comedy sketch show The Kids in the Hall.

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