Lightyear Producer Says Disney Pushed Back Against Same-Sex Kiss – The Hollywood Reporter
Disney supported Lightyear’s inclusion of two lesbian characters but was hesitant about featuring a kiss between them, according to one of the film’s producers.
In an interview with Mercury News, Galyn Susman, a producer for the Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear origin tale, briefly touched on the controversy around Pixar’s first animated feature film same-gender kiss. In March, it was revealed that the film would be restoring a kiss scene that had previously been cut.
When asked about the studio’s response to including what is described as a “quick lesbian kiss” between the Aduba-voiced character Alisha Hawthorne and her fellow Black lesbian wife, the producer revealed that Disney had always supported the couple being gay. And it was because their onscreen relationship helped further one of the film’s storylines reflecting on Buzz’s loneliness in life. The kiss, however, garnered a different response.
“They were all supportive of that,” Susman recalled of discussions around featuring the couple. “But there was definite pushback on having that kiss.”
The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that the kiss between the characters,’ whose relationship was always in the film and their roles never reduced, had been restored. It was initially cut during the creative process amid conversations around intimacy. The news of the kiss’ removal and then restoration came amid the height of Disney’s “Don’t Say Gay” turmoil, which saw some employees become critical of CEO Bob Chapek’s decision to refrain from making a public statement denouncing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which has since become law.
As internal and external pressure mounted for Disney, including a March 9 open letter from anonymous Pixar staffers alleging Disney had censored “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in past studio titles, the decision to reverse course was made.
“We got the opportunity to put it back in and that was really exciting,” Susman said.
During the interview, Lightyear’s director and co-screenwriter Angus MacLane also spoke about how the origin story of the space ranger — which features a racially diverse ensemble both on and offscreen — presented a chance to crack open two longstanding narratives in sci-fi with his feature debut.
“There’s the white savior narrative and there’s the teamwork narrative,” MacLane, a self-described Star Trek and Star Wars fan, said. “So what I wanted to do was marry both of those ideas with someone that was convinced that they were the hero and who ultimately recognizes that they were sold something that wasn’t useful. I think that really is one of the biggest challenges of our time.”