This week, large groups of people have taken up pitchforks online and shouted, “Kill the beast!” But they’re not talking about a cursed prince in a monstrous form. They’re talking about a reported “gay moment” in Disney’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The ball started rolling after British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude published an interview with the film’s director, Bill Condon, in which he said that the movie has an “exclusively gay moment.”
Headlines were quickly written about “Beauty and the Beast” introducing a gay character, and many Christians (and Christian groups) were quick to, for lack of a better term, freak out.
Boycotts were organized. Petitions started. Hot takes were written. Glenn Beck started a poll. One theater canceled its showings of the movie.
But the movie isn’t out until March 17. Reviews weren’t even posted from media outlets until early March. When all of this hubbub started, nobody really even knew what the “gay moment” was.
So I have a message for my fellow Christians: Stop.
Calm down. Chill out. It’s going to be OK.
There are a few things going on here. The first is that you’re reacting without actually knowing what you’re freaking out about.
So let me tell you, because I saw the movie Thursday night.
The character LeFou (played by Josh Gad in this adaptation), as in the animated original, is shown as being devoted to Gaston. More devoted than most straight men are with even their best male buddies. There are slight tinges of jealousy when Gaston fawns over Belle (“Who needs her when you have us?” he asks at one point), but nothing blatant.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon says in the interview.
But aside from some subtle longing and another moment at the end that I won’t spoil, that’s it. There is no gay kiss, there is no LGBTQ wedding, the Beast doesn’t reveal that he’s secretly into gay porn. Very little from the source material is changed, and I would argue that the “change” is actually true to the original character.
“But there shouldn’t be anything even remotely sexual in a kid’s movie!” you say about a movie that is explicitly about a romance between two adults. “They’re just shoving suggestive themes down our family’s throat! Disney has gotten too liberal!”
How long has it been since you’ve watched the original movie? Because let me remind you of Lumiere, a very frisky candelabra who gets handsy (err, candle-y) with a feather duster. Remember the scene with the unmarried couple up to something behind a curtain?
So that’s factor No. 1: The thing you’re freaking out over is not worth worrying about. “Beauty and the Beast” is still family-friendly (and, if I might say so, quite wonderful. It’s a great version of the story).
There’s another issue at play here, however. And it’s the fact that, whether you like it or not, gay people exist.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume all Christians agree that homosexuality is sinful. (This isn’t true, mind you, and approaches to the LGBTQ community vary between denominations, churches and individuals.)
Gay people still exist.
So when you ask, “How can I take my child to a movie that has gay characters in it?” my question is: Do you take your children to the park? Or out to eat? Or to school? Because everywhere they go, they’re going to run into sinners of all kinds.
Both in movies and in real life, people lie. People cheat. People steal. People have affairs and pre-marital sex.
If those are things you feel you need to have serious discussions with your children about, then you need to have those conversations anyway. If anything, maybe the movie can be a jumping-off point.
You can try to keep your child in a bubble, but all bubbles pop, eventually.
And take it from a millennial who has watched a lot of people leave the church when the bubble their parents placed around them popped: You’re not actually helping your child grow closer to God, you’re just shoving them further away from their fellow humans.