What is anyone ever talking about? It’s one of the great questions of our time. What was Josh Gad talking about on the “Just for Variety'' podcast in July 2021 when he said to “expect the unexpected” regarding his character LeFou in the then-upcoming Beauty and the Beast prequel series for Disney+? At the time, I speculated that perhaps he was suggesting that LeFou — allegedly Disney’s first ever gay character — would hook up with the twink-coded candelabra Lumière. Seven months later, the “unexpected” turned out to be the news that the Disney+ series would be scrapped altogether three days after casting Rita Ora in an unnamed role — a considerably less LGBTQ-friendly outcome.
Well, at least we’ll always have the groundbreaking 2017 Beauty and the Beast film, a classic of queer cinema that changed the way gay men are represented onscreen forever, eventually leading to James Corden’s historic Golden Globe-nominated performance in The Prom.
Today, however, as I sat in my Disney-themed home office drinking coffee out of my Mrs. Potts teapot (my favorite gay diva), I was faced with a somewhat revisionist reading of history from Miss Gad herself in the pages of The Independent.
“We didn’t go far enough to warrant accolades,” agrees Gad. “We didn’t go far enough to say, ‘Look how brave we are.’ My regret in what happened is that it became ‘Disney’s first explicitly gay moment’ and it was never intended to be that. It was never intended to be a moment that we should laud ourselves for, because frankly, I don’t think we did justice to what a real gay character in a Disney film should be. That was not LeFou. If we’re going to pat ourselves on the back, then damn it we should have gone further with that. Everybody deserves an opportunity to see themselves on screen, and I don’t think we’ve done enough – and I certainly haven’t done enough to do that.”
It seems Gad is referring to director Bill Condon’s 2017 statement to Attitude Magazine, which he later walked back, that Beauty and the Beast would feature “a nice, exclusively gay moment” for LeFou. According to The Independent, that moment turned out to be a “two-second dance with another man” amid a larger “crowd scene,” which apparently was not enough for some of the more militant queer separatists in the Disney fandom.
Glancing over at the trophy I had personally forged and embossed for Gad with the words “Best at Gay Representation,” which I had plans to one day present to him at some kind of gay heroes meet-and-greet, I felt disoriented. The thought that Gad was dissatisfied with his quietly radical limp-wristed performance brought me to tears. But more importantly — could he be right? Was there more to the gay experience than what was depicted in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast?
In a moment of weakness, I typed in “gay” on my Google search bar in an attempt to look for answers, but I stopped short of hitting “enter.” This is not my story to tell — it’s Josh Gad’s.