Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies. Belle is a strong female character who loves to learn and doesn’t want society to hold her back with its social expectations of women. The Beast – well, we all have some of his qualities within us and we know how difficult it is to change. We also know people fear what they don’t understand. Then, of course, there’s the music.
However, the live adaptation of the movie is causing quite the stir – and it hasn’t even been released in theaters yet. Apparently there is a part when Lefou, Gaston’s sidekick, has an “exclusively gay moment.”
Ok…no one knows exactly what that means. Yet, there are plenty of articles flying around social media calling for Christians to boycott the movie due to this “moment.” I guess, as a Christian, I struggle with this idea.
First of all, I did a lot of research about the Catholic Church’s teaching is on LGBTQ (many denominations have similar views). It’s not as black-and-white as many make it out to be. In fact, nowhere does it say “condemn these people.” It says we need to accept them as an image of God because all people are created in His image. The teaching is that it goes against God’s plan for human sexuality, which makes sense since the humans would not survive without reproduction, which is the act of a man and woman. It also says it understands that many people have feelings that reflect homosexuality and that it is not a choice for them; therefore, it is not a sin. However, ACTING upon those feelings is where the sin comes in.
I know. That doesn’t seem fair either. It’s just what I found in my research.
I am not LGBTQ. I am straight, and I do not have the inclination to engage in homosexuality or anything similar. I cannot even pretend to understand those inclinations as I have no context for them. I do, however, have friends and family who identify as LGBTQ, and I still love and accept them as I would any other human being. I do not have to agree with others’ choices, but I can respect them, their life, and love them for who they are.
However, to call for a boycott seems contradictory to the Church’s teaching about loving each other. It sends the message that others don’t care about them. It says no one is willing to support them. It says they aren’t worth protecting. It says they aren’t human, and therefore, shouldn’t be treated with dignity. Sending these messages casts Christians as people who aren’t loving and supportive, but rather as people who stand against others who are different. It says “We Christians love everyone, except you. We won’t even tolerate your differences.”
And guess what. To treat a human life in this negative manner is a sin.
Is it such a leap or surprise that Lefou is gay? In the cartoon version, Lefou has an obvious “mancrush” on Gaston. He practically worships the ground he walks on. Also, while many people are saying this is Disney’s first major gay character, I beg to differ. First, he’s not a major character, but a supporting one. Secondly, there were two pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean who definitely hinted at an LGBTQ relationship. I don’t think my kids were permanently damaged by those characters. In fact, I don’t think they mentioned it at all, even when the pirates were dressed as women.
Parents must decide if they want to expose their children to the LGBTQ character. However, remember, if you choose to NOT expose your children, it is likely they’ve already been exposed or will be. It is part of our society, and the voices of people who identify as LGBTQ is growing.
Why not use this movie as a stepping stone to help your children understand your point-of-view and to make informed decisions for themselves? Yes, exposing them to adult sexuality, the sexualization of people, inappropriate/unhealthy relationships, abuse, etc. influence children (umm – how many Disney movies could we twist into those catagories? Just saying…). As a parent, it is your job to help them through these times. I, for one, would prefer my young kids ask me questions so I can answer them to the best of my ability. It won’t be long before they don’t want to ask me – they’ll ask their friends, Google it, or explore things on their own.
The Disney adaptions of Beauty and the Beast vary from the original fairytales. Of course, fairytales are known for their lessons. The moral of Beauty and the Beast is that inner beauty is greater than physical beauty. Belle is scared of the Beast’s outward appearance but she soon becomes his friend. She finds that he is a kind and compassionate person. She falls in love with his inner beauty. Therefore, the moral of the story is that you should not judge a person by appearance and that real beauty comes from within.
Sounds like it fits perfectly with how Christians need to view others with different beliefs and appearances.
There’s also another lesson to be taken from Beauty and the Beast. It’s the ever-popular love versus hate. Gaston allows hate to take over and lead his actions. Overcome by hateful feelings, he uses fear to manipulate the townspeople into attacking the Beast’s castle. The townspeople, fueled by their fear of the unknown and different, refuse to listen to Belle. However, as we all know, love is more powerful than hate but it needs people to embody it and show love in order to overcome hate.
Gaston is the villain of the story but how many people does he represent in our world? Hating others because of superficial facets isn’t Christian; it’s simply fear and hatred. Why not strive to be more like Belle (clearly the smartest character in the bunch)? She saw the kindness and beauty not only in the Beast but in the household items, too. She treats all the villagers with genuine kindness and compassion. She even makes attempts to respect and be kind towards Gaston, knowing that she isn’t likely to change his mind.
When I speak to my children about any questions they may have about the LBGTQ community, I hope I can portray this lesson above all else: God’s love for each of His children overcomes all, and we need to be a vessel of His kindness, respect, dignity, and love for others, even if we disagree with them on certain issues.