Disney has had a rough week, made rougher by the fact that it dove headfirst into a problem that it very easily could’ve not only avoided but come out on the right side of — it’s like, instead of avoiding a car crash, they drove into the oncoming lane to create a worse car crash. It all started when anti-LGBTQ + politicians in Florida put together what’s referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which effectively criminalizes any discussions of LGBTQ + issues in schools. Disney, despite owning some particularly enormous real estate in Florida and despite making a big show of its LGBTQ + support with Pride-related events at Disney World, initially declined to comment on the legislation at all until CEO Bob Chapek put out an internal memo saying that the company’s lack of a response was on purpose and that he felt like a big corporate statement on any issue like this would only do more harm than good.
That lack-of-a-statement did not go over super well, prompting Chapek to send a formal apology email to Disney employees in which he said that the company would stop all Florida political donations (it pretty much gives money to any politician who will ask, including many who supported the anti-LGBTQ + legislation) and acknowledged that — with his silence — he had whiffed it pretty bad on this particular issue.
Since then, Pixar employees have accused Disney’s higher-ups of forcing them to cut “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in their movies and Disney employees have begun planning both live and virtual walk-outs to protest the way the company has handled all of this. The latest development is that Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Disney and one that answers directly to Disney corporate rather than Marvel corporate, has just gone ahead and released a pointed statement of its own on Twitter:
Nobody’s biting the mouse hand that feeds them in that tweet, unfortunately, but it’s pretty clear that Marvel is doing something here that Disney itself has not done at least. That might be worth something. But at the same time, while the movie side and the comics side of Marvel are largely separated these days (so Kevin Feige can comfortably call the shots at Marvel Studios), Marvel did also announce its plans for Pride Month in the comics today as well.
It would’ve seemed disingenuous at best if Marvel had said “Look at Billy and Hulkling! Ice Man! America Chavez! We’re celebrating them! ” and then have one of its other branches ignoring the horrible treatment being given to real LGBTQ + people.
Either way, all of this is further proof that Disney should’ve said something. It would’ve been very easy!