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Audiences Are Applauding That LeFou Moment at the End of 'Beauty and the Beast'

Over the past several days, much has been said about the new live-action version of LeFou (played by Josh Gad) in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and how he represents Disney’s first explicitly gay character. Now, arguably, he isn’t the first gay Disney character, at least according to fans, who’ve debated over the years that other characters from films like Frozen and Zootopia are also (probably) gay. 

Once both director Bill Condon and star Josh Gad confirmed that LeFou has an “exclusively gay moment” in the film, suddenly there was controversy, with much of it revolving around an Alabama theater’s decision not to play the movie because of it. Since then Condon has called the entire thing “overblown,” considering it’s such a tiny moment in the movie. Meanwhile, Josh Gad spoke to People about the hubbub, saying the film is one of “inclusiveness” and has a little something for everyone.

Now as audiences actually begin to see the film for themselves, an interesting thing is happening: they’re applauding LeFou’s moment at the end. There were cheers at our IMAX preview screening in New York, and reports from the Chicago screening claim it received the biggest ovation of the entire film. 

The moment, overblown as it may be, is now becoming something else entirely.

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And folks, this is a tiny moment — mere seconds long — and what we’ve seen play as a similar subtle gag in other films is now taking on this life of its own in a way that proves why watching movies like Beauty and the Beast with an audience is a powerful experience in more ways than you’d think. How being amidst a group of hundreds who are all rallying around this idea of being comfortable in your own skin is something that sticks. Sure, the songs will be stuck in your head for days (and we’re all fully prepared for that), but it’s pretty awesome (and also rare) to see crowds cheering for what’s essentially the film’s central theme. 

What’s special about this version of Beauty and the Beast is, as Gad says, its inclusiveness. LeFou isn’t the only character who’s slowly coming to realizations about himself throughout the film; gradually learning how to embrace the person he is versus the person others think he should be. This is something Belle (Emma Watson) struggles with, as does the Beast (Dan Stevens). Even Gaston (Luke Evans), as slimy and deceiving as he is, struggles with the fact that he may not be as enticing a catch as he always thought himself to be.

Beauty and the Beast is a film about loving the person that you are no matter what you look like, be it a beast or a candlestick or a girl with an unusual appreciation of literature. It’s not about a specific lifestyle being overtly shoved in your face, as some have claimed, unless that lifestyle is one that includes simply being yourself. 

Any movie that champions that kind of lifestyle — especially one geared toward impressionable kids navigating the wild complexities of coming of age and all the feelings that go along with it — is most definitely one worth applauding. 

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