Beauty and the Beast's modern makeover extends past Emma Watson's Belle and her feminist agenda. In fact, Bill Condon's live-action Beauty and the Beast will feature Disney's first-ever "exclusively gay" onscreen moment. (Sorry, the much-discussed, potentially lesbian couple in Finding Dory does not count.) Better yet: The character in question is someone we know from the 1991 animated classic and not just some random background player.
Prepare to see a different side of LeFou (Josh Gad), Gaston's dopey and extremely loyal sidekick, come the film's release on March 17. "LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston," Condon told Attitude in the mag's latest cover story.
"He's confused about what he wants," the director added. "It's somebody who's just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that's what has its payoff at the end, which I don't want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
It's also the first exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie, and that's huge. Not only is it a chance to give LeFou — a character whose sole purpose was comic relief — some much-needed depth, but it's a necessary step in the right direction when it comes to LGBTQ representation onscreen. And let's face it: Disney still has a long way to go.
On Wednesday (March 1), Gad tweeted that he is "beyond proud" to be part of the Disney milestone. Condon also saw it as a dedication to the 1991 film's lyricist Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS-related complications before the film premiered in theaters. (And took home the Oscar for Best Original Song.)
According to Condon, Ashman internalized the Beast's isolation and dire circumstances as a "metaphor for AIDS." Originally, the Beast was a secondary character to Belle's leading heroine, but Ashman saw potential in him and his love story with Belle. "[Beast] 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," Condon explained. "It was a very, very concrete thing that [Ashman] was doing."
At least it's nice to know that we're officially past metaphors now.