The Beastly Beauty of Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’ — And How We Should Respond
Christians must answer with wisdom to match gay activists' strategic savvy.
So Disney is going to have an “exclusively gay moment” in the live-action film version of Beauty and the Beast. It’s not going to be a big thing, just a moment in the action of LeFou the manservant. Something “nice.” Something very feelings-oriented.
That news follows close upon Disney Studios’ first animated same-sex kiss.
We’ve been talking about this behind the scenes here at The Stream. Al Perrotta, our managing editor, made this prediction by email:
Let’s not kid ourselves. The reason you put in a lighthearted, perhaps even obvious, gay attraction theme in Beauty and the Beast is to soften the ground so a Disney princess or heroine can be gay. That’s the goal. They’ll get away with it here because it’s likely to be humorous, over-the-top fun, and done with much skill. (The Modern Family lesson well applied. And the film’s director Bill Condon is no slouch.) But I guarantee Disney is eyeballing a feature with a gay lead.
He’s right. Modern Family presents gayness in such a pleasant and positive light, it’s done more for gay-rights activism than any gay op-ed or slogan has ever done.
Strategically Putting Christians In a Corner
They’ve centered their strategy on positive imagery. The visual media, film and television, are plainly the most powerful image-makers in Western civilization.
Make no mistake, this was by strategic intention. Marshall Kirk and “Erastes Pill” (a pseudonym for Hunter Madsen) laid it out decades ago in a strategy document they called “The Overhauling of Straight America.” Written in 1987, it’s a disturbing paper yet still worth the read if you can stand it, for the insight it gives into decades of gay activism.
Kirk and Pill speak of opening up “a gateway into the private world of straights, through which a Trojan horse might be passed. As far as desensitization is concerned, the medium is the message — of normalcy. So far, gay Hollywood has provided our best covert weapon in the battle to desensitize the mainstream.”
It’s a strategy centered in positive imagery: “For openers, naturally, we must continue to encourage the appearance of favorable gay characters in films and TV shows,” they write. “The visual media, film and television, are plainly the most powerful image-makers in Western civilization.”
Their approach has been astonishingly effective. Consider the strategic savvy of what they’re setting up in Beauty and the Beast. If we say, “That’s wrong!” people will hear it as “That’s ugly” instead. Everything is happening on the level of images, remember.
So there’s no easy way for conservatives to object without looking ugly ourselves. They’ve put us in a corner. If we object, we lose now. If we don’t object, we lose later, when Disney plies gay princes and princesses upon us. Disney is the Beauty, critics are the Beast.
Overhauling Under Way
But how did that happen? How did we get that way? It comes out of “Overhauling Straight America.” Opponents “must be vilified,” say Kirk and Pill:
The public should be shown images of ranting homophobes. … Bigoted southern ministers drooling with hysterical hatred to a degree that looks both comical and deranged; menacing punks, thugs, and convicts speaking coolly about the “f*gs” they have killed or would like to kill; a tour of Nazi concentration camps where homosexuals were tortured and gassed.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If you haven’t seen those precise images, still you know how neatly Christians have been maneuvered into the place of the “intolerant haters.” You could almost admire a strategy so effective, if it weren’t so dishonestly manipulative.
And that, fellow Christians, is the difficult strategic setup we’re dealing with. What’s our best response?
Fight Beastliness With Beauty
We’ll get much further by revealing the true beauty of the way of Jesus Christ.
What we’ve been doing for the most part (and I include myself here) has been trying to make gays and gay activism appear the Beast. We have ground to stand on there, to be sure. Even their strategies are beastly.
But just as there are no fairy tales where the heroine turns ugly at the end, and “they all live happily ever after” (I don’t think even Shrek is an exception, though that’s another discussion), it’s hard to make people happy by exposing gay activism’s ugliness. From both a strategic and biblical perspective we’ll get much further by revealing the true beauty of the way of Jesus Christ.
We must be His Beauty in the world. We won’t be able to do that the way Disney does, with multi-million dollar budgets, decades of film experience and a distribution system to drool over. But we are not without resources of our own.
We have the beauty of Christian marriage. Couples who pray together have more loving unions and divorce less often. We have the beauty of Christian forgiveness. We have the beauty of the love of Christ, reaching out to neighbors, friends, and even enemies. We have the beauty of truth, openness, honesty, transparency and humility.
Personal Relationships and Public Conversations
We have to keep pointing back to the better way. The way of Jesus Christ is beautiful. The more people see it with their own eyes, the more likely they’ll be to believe it.
I could go on. These things are best seen up close, not onscreen. We need to love our opponents. The closer we connect in real relationships with people who consider us beastly, the harder it will be for them to ignore the reality of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Meanwhile the discussion must go on. Disney’s support for homosexuality is very public, so we have to respond in public. But we must be wise to the trap they’ve set for us. Someone commented regarding the cartoon kiss, “It’s official. Our society has gone to sh*t.” Someone else wrote, “You Liberals are disgusting creatures of perversion!!” That’s falling into the trap, and it’s no help at all. Language like that is just as ugly as what it’s objecting to.
No, in our public conversations we have to keep pointing back to the better way. We need to learn to paint the picture better, to show the truly beautiful way, the way of strong and lasting marriages that unite in godly love to build the next generation.
Because the way of Jesus Christ, which our culture has come to consider beastly, is really beautiful. The more people can see that with their own eyes, the more likely they’ll be to believe it.