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Beauty and the Beast will feature Disney’s first ever gay storyline

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The live-action remake of the 1991 classic will finally see a gay character in a Disney movie. 

Director Bill Condon revealed that LeFou’s admiration for a male lead will cause him to contemplate his sexuality, in an interview with Attitude Magazine: “Le Fou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He's confused about what he wants,” he said. “It's somebody who's just realising that he has these feelings.”

Both Condon and Luke Evans - who are openly gay - stress that this is a way of increasing LGBTQ+ visibility on screen.

In the past, queer films and character have mostly been reserved for non-mainstream audiences. To feature a gay character in such a high-profile and child-friendly story is to break new ground.

In recent years, Disney has subtly teased audiences with gay storylines. Finding Dory saw two women appear to be romantically involved in its trailer, although the film did not actually feature a same-sex couple; Zootopia saw two male antelopes share a double-barrelled surname, yet their relationship was not made explicit; and Frozen fans speculated whether Sven’s intimate relationship with his reindeer was indicative of his sexuality. Earlier this month, Disney XD aired the first ever gay cartoon kiss, in Star Vs The Forces of Evil.

The inclusion of a gay character is a tribute Howard Ashman, the lyricist for the 1991 original who died before the film opened. Condon explained that Ashman saw the Beast’s circumstances as a “metaphor for Aids. He was cursed, and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him, and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very, very concrete thing that he was doing.”

Condon’s live-action remake of the Disney classic is one of 2017’s most hotly anticipated films. The film’s trailer was viewed more than 130 million times in the first 24 hours it was released. Emma Watson stars as Belle – a role she accepted on the grounds that this would be a feminist reinvention of the original. 

Beauty and the Beast is released in UK cinemas on 17th March. 

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