While we really hoped for a coming out story for Frozen's Elsa late last year, it looks like Disney has come through and introduced a queer character in the new Pixar film, Onward. While the character is by no means the star of the movie, it's still a big deal for there to be an openly lesbian woman in a Disney movie made for kids. In fact, this character will be the first queer animated character for Disney.
Who is the lesbian character in 'Onward'?
Onward follows two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt), who inherit a magical staff that will bring back their dead father for 24 hours. Due to a not-so-slight hick-up, the brothers manage to only bring back half of their dad. In order to get the rest of his body, they embark on a wild quest. During their journey, they get pulled over by Officer Specter (played by Lena Waithe), who has a conversation with the boys.
Officer Specter talks about her girlfriend's kid, saying, "My girlfriend's daughter got me pulling my hair out."
The internet's reaction to 'Onward's' lesbian character is...mixed.
And not because people are upset that there's some LGBTQ+ representation in a Disney film! But because there's still not enough, quite frankly. Some say "hints" to being queer doesn't count, and they have a point. While Disney is seemingly trying to do the right thing and making strides, some feel like the company isn't doing it fast enough — it is 2020, after all. Should Disney really be lauded for introducing a queer character with two lines at most? Where are the queer leads?
The problem here is with those characters being described as "openly" queer, when they're not. Hints and unspoken subtext doesn't count as open. I have hope, with Onward, since they describe the character as "out." But it won't count either if it's not explicitly acknowledged.— Rainbow🌈Starbird🔥 @ Buy Midnight Tour #1! (@RainbowStarbird) February 22, 2020
Plus, some point out that Disney has recently canceled shows with queer characters and created by queer creators.
Oh yeah, and don't forget as soon as Disney acquired Fox they cancelled Lumberjanes, a series by Noelle Stevenson, a queer creator, that features a lesbian subplot and a trans nonbinary character so I don't want to hear shit about how 'inclusive' Onward is— Archantael 🛡️ #SaveOurSisk 🏳️🌈 (@phoenixtheblade) February 25, 2020
However, some people are celebrating the inclusion of a queer character in the movie. Progress is progress?
Apparently Onward will have Disney’s first openly queer character! That’s so cool!— Violet (@presumablyvi) February 22, 2020
Help me keep track though—this is Disney’s, what, fourth first openly queer character? Fifth, sixth? Either way, congrats to them for having another first 🏳️🌈🎉
Officer Specter isn't the only queer character who exists in the Disney universe. Some much-talked about characters were the women in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker who were alluded to be in a relationship, as well as a man who talks about his male partner in The Avengers: Endgame. These characters sparked a similar conversation: Should Disney be celebrated for including very, very small queer roles in their films?
On the other side of the world, Russia has censored the "lesbian" scene in 'Onward.'
Russia, a country not known for its progressive social politics, will implement censorship in Onward when it comes out in theaters. According to KinoPiosk, a Russian film database, some people have seen the edited version, and report that Officer Specter says the word "partner" instead of "girlfriend." KinoPiosk writes, "Presumably, Disney's Russian branch tried to avoid unnecessary problems with the anticipated project's release." The Moscow Times reached out to Disney, but they have yet to respond.
Onward is out in theaters March 6.