While Disney has long supported the LGBT movement and has subtly slipped in several gay references in its productions in the past, including the recent live-action "Beauty and the Beast," none of its films have featured an openly gay character. That's about to change with the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt-starring film, "The Jungle Cruise."
In what The Sun reports is being called a "turning point" in Disney's history, sources told the outlet that the live-action park ride-themed film will feature Disney's first ever openly gay character, a "gay man – one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny," who will make clear that he is "not interested in women."
Disney has reportedly chosen British comedian Jack Whitehall to play the "turning point" role.
"This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever pay cheque," the source told The Sun. "But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man - one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny. It's a dream role. Disney’s always been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community. This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point."
But while some LGBT activists are celebrating Disney's first openly gay character, others, including some of his fellow actors, are condemning the entertainment giant for choosing Whitehall to play the role. Sky News reports:
Omar Sharif Jr, son of the late Oscar-nominated Egyptian actor, asked Disney on Twitter: "Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail! This ship should sink."
Fellow actor Chris Salvatore told Disney to "do better", adding: "Such a dam [sic] shame it's so hard to find gay actors to play gay roles in Hollywood."
Actor and producer Emerson Collins added: "It's too bad there weren't any out actors who are regularly called some euphemism for 'too camp' by casting directors, studios, networks, executives etc. for literally any role who were available for this Disney 'first'."
The headliners of the film are "The Rock" and Blunt, but, as was the case with the character of LeFou in the 2017 "Beauty and the Beast," Whitehall's character might end up stealing many of the headlines, as he has already.
Leading up to the release of "Beauty and the Beast" last year, director Bill Condon revealed that LeFou (played by Josh Gad) would subtly struggle with his attraction for Gaston and would enjoy a "nice, exclusively gay moment," a reference to LeFou dancing with a man dressed as a woman at the end of the film.
"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston," Condon told Attitude magazine prior to the film's release. "He's confused about what he wants. It's somebody who's just realizing that he has these feelings."
Below is a clip of the film where the effeminate LeFou displays some of that "confusion" over his feelings for Gaston (h/t Amanda Prestigiacomo):