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.