If you needed one more reminder that bigotry is alive and well (and also very confusing and hypocritical) in America, here’s one: A movie theater in Alabama is refusing to show Beauty and the Beast because this film — a remake of the animated Disney classic about a woman falling in love with a horrifying animal who imprisons her and then gaslights her until she is his — goes against all their religious beliefs. But it’s not the bestiality that the new owners of Henagar Drive-In Theater are particularly concerned about; it’s the fact that LeFou (Gaston’s sidekick, played by the often amusing Josh Gad) is gay in the film. And that kind of monstrosity? It. will. not. stand.
In the new version of the film, LeFou isn’t just someone who admires Gaston. In fact, he can’t decide whether he wants to be Gaston or be with Gaston, with whom he may one day move into a small, cozy cottage in Belle’s small provincial town, share bread from the baker’s tray with every morning, and enjoy long hours of drinking at the town’s pub followed by a quiet embrace at the same fountain where a goat once chewed up a book that Belle had somehow tricked the bookseller into giving her — even though the guy’s running a shop, not a library.
Is this change from the book to the movie new and unexpected? Sure. Can it be seen as Disney turning the LGBT community into caricatures? Some will certainly see it that way (especially because, as adorable, as he is, LeFou’s still one of the villains). But it’s also Disney’s way of including more diversity in their films, putting in gay characters — by the way, Luke Evans, who plays Gaston, is openly gay — without making a big show of it in the film itself. According to Entertainment Weekly, LeFou is seen flirting with Gaston and then dancing with another man during the finale of the film. It’s a small way of normalizing homosexuality (and could be helpful for kids and teens who go see the movie and are struggling with their own sexual identity), but the Henagar’s new owners? They see this move as just another way that Hollywood is forcing the gay agenda down everyone’s throats.
From the Facebook post the theater owners put up on Facebook:
As of December 16th the Henagar Drive-In is under new ownership. Movies scheduled prior to that date and four weeks after this date were not scheduled by the new owners. That being said…It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing Beauty and the Beast at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out. When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine. For those that do not know Beauty and the Beast is “premiering” their first homosexual character. The producer also says at the end of the movie “there will be a surprise for same-sex couples”. If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language. Thank you for your support!
It’s not clear how Disney is forcing “views” on anyone by including characters that aren’t strictly heterosexual in their films (hey! Just how life works!) or how a movie that’s rated PG will somehow scar an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old instead of teaching them about tolerance and acceptance, but it’s sad that the owners have decided that even a few mentions of homosexuality — they make it sound like Disney’s shot a full-on gay porno — makes the movie unfit for viewing.
And it’s even sadder that while these people, who are “first and foremost Christians” and should not judge lest they be judged, have condemned this film sight unseen. Also worrying? While the owners mention not showing films that feature “sex, nudity, homosexuality, and foul language,” they don’t mention a commitment to not showing anything that’s violent. Action movie with multiple deaths? Probably chill. A fairy tale which includes singing furniture (demonic possession is much more of a problem for me, tbh), people (and beasts) learning valuable life lessons, and a character who happens to be gay? Nope, that’s where a line’s got to be drawn.
The theater owner’s decision has already caused an uproar. It’s been shared over 1,000 times and comments from all types of people — both supporting and condemning the decision — are pouring in by the minute. Will this change the owner’s mind? Probably not. But it may change some people’s minds about supporting a business that is so open and blatant about its bigotry. And if that costs the theater some much needed dough? That’s not the gay agenda, it’s just a reminder that fewer and fewer people will stand for naked hatred under the guide of religious freedom.