Year in Review: Staff Picks

Howard Ashman and creative team Alan Menken

screenshot: Disney+

By Sabina Graber

Florida’s controversial anti-LGBTQ Don’t Say Gay bill has passed the state Senate and goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk with all but a guarantee of passage into state law — and one of the biggest State company, the Walt Disney Company, has largely chosen to remain silent.

Instead of turning its attention to supporting LGBTQ youth and their families, Disney focused on another situation that made headlines in Florida: its latest luxury vacation company on board the Star Wars Galactic Star Cruiser. Yesterday, however, Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally addressed the issue. Type of.

In Chapek’s refusal to directly denounce the Florida bill as part of an email sent to Disney employees is a specific part of his statement (you can read the full memo at The Hollywood Reporter) has made waves: his belief that Disney is doing everything it can to promote tolerance and equality through its content. “Encanto, Black Panther, Pose, Reservation Dogs, Coco, Soul, Modern Family, Shang-Chi, Summer of Soul, [and] Love, Victor”, the statement listed as influential, diverse works by the company.Those stories, and all of our diverse ones, are our corporate statements — and they’re more powerful than any tweet or lobbying.” But for all the dancing, it’s about the power of content rather than Disney’s actual vast financial power, power to which it is accustomed support supporters financially of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, perhaps the most offensive thing about Chapek’s stance is that he failed to consider the impact that one legendary gay figure in particular has had on Disney: Howard Ashman, who, like the legions of queer employees at Disney has been ignored since his time by Chapek’s cowardice.

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