Let’s face it, for as many strides as the LGBT+ community has made in terms of representation in media, there are some places where that progress has met heavy resistance. Look no further than what’s been happening with Disney lately. The media juggernaut seriously dropped the ball in response to controversial Florida legislation involving sexual preference and gender identity in schools. They’ve also taken to cutting content out of their films that feature same-sex relationships. To that end at least, a victory was achieved for the upcoming film, “Lightyear.”
Being a spin-off to the much beloved “Toy Story” franchise, “Lightyear” has received a good deal of press leading up to its release later this year. Disney executives received a bit of unwanted attention though when it came to light in March that a kiss was cut between Buzz’s friend/fellow space-ranger, Alisha Hawthorne, and her wife. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but considering that there has never been a lesbian kiss in an animated Disney release before, it actually is a big deal.
Producer Galyn Susman discussed this controversy following a screening of the film, and underscored how important the scene is and why its inclusion was meaningful.
“Yes. We have a kiss. You saw it in the version of the film that you all saw before this Q & A. We’ve always had the lesbian couple. They’ve always been a part of the film. Being able to put back the kiss was important to us. It’s a touching moment. It helps Buzz to see what it is that he’s… It’s the life that’s being lived in front of him by his best friend that he’s not having. He doesn’t have those kinds of relationships. He doesn’t have a child. He doesn’t have what she has. And so it was important for us to get that back in there. And we’re really excited about that.”
While again, it may not seem like a big deal to some people, this matter of representation is easily something that could be looked back on as an important moment in representation in media. There’s a reason why the kiss between Captain Kirk and Uhura in “Star Trek” in 1968 is remembered to this day. While it’s often cited as the first interracial kiss on television, it in fact may not have been. However, it is certainly the most high-profile and its resonance has not been forgotten.
Could “Lightyear” end up holding the same kind of esteem in breaking boundaries that “Star Trek” did? Who knows; it’s far too soon to tell what place the film is going to have in popular culture. Regardless though, boundaries need to be broken eventually and it wasn’t going to happen here if Disney had their way originally. Sure their allowing the scene to be restored might just be an attempt to walk back their horrible response to Flordia’s Don’t Say Gay bill, but it’s something.
And here’s hoping that something can turn into a something that is far more substantial.
“Lightyear” is set to hit theaters June 17th, 2022.