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Disney’s Animated Movie ‘Onward’ To Feature First Explicitly LGBTQ Character
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Lena Waithe attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020 in Pasadena, California.
Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET

Disney’s Pixar will be breaking revolutionary ground on March 6 with the release of “Onward” – the studio’s first animated movie to feature an openly LGBTQ character.

The character, voiced by Lena Waithe, will be a lesbian police officer whose sexuality will be explicitly pointed out in the movie as opposed to just being implied, such as the alleged lesbian couple in “Finding Dory” or the “exclusively gay moment” in the “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake.

According to Slate, Pixar has largely kept the reveal of Waithe’s character under wraps by not making a huge media splash about it, opting instead to have it leaked slowly through varying reports. Here’s how the reveal unfolded:

There’s a lesbian character in Onward, a police officer voiced by Lena Waithe, but the most revolutionary thing that Pixar has done in advance of the movie’s release is not tell anyone about it. A day before the review embargo on the movie lifted, the closest thing to a relevant search result was a Reddit post from a user with the subject ‘possible lesbian couple in Pixar’s Onward??’ featuring an ambiguous-at-best screenshot from the movie’s trailer…

That being said, the inclusion of Waithe’s character will probably satisfy nobody who truly craves total representation in the LGBT community, being that Waithe’s moment of explicit lesbianism is a brief, throwaway line of little consequence:

But we don’t need to speculate about Waithe’s Officer Spector. We know because she tells us. When she and her partner, voiced by Ali Wong, pull over a driver who claims he was distracted because his girlfriend’s sons have been acting up, she commiserates, “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.”

That line isn’t the point of the scene. In fact, it goes by so fast you could barely notice it. But that’s why it works so well. The film doesn’t pause to let it sink in or isolate the moment with a cut for emphasis. It passes unremarked, because in this world, it’s accepted as a fact of life. Some babies have two daddies, and some babies have two mommies, even if those mommies happen to be centaurs or elves.

The inclusion of Waithe’s character comes amid a wave of LGBT representation at Disney via the studio’s various intellectual properties and distribution platforms. In just a few months, Marvel’s “The Eternals” will be breaking new ground by not only featuring the first openly gay superhero, but also the franchise’s first gay kiss.

“It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” said actor Haaz Sleiman. “Everyone cried on set. For me, it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be. Brian Tyree Henry is such a tremendous actor and brought so much beauty into this part, and at one point I saw a child in his eyes, and I think it’s important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point. We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part.”

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