Disney’s new live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast looks almost like a shot-for-shot copy of the 1991 animated feature. But there are some notable differences. For one, Belle will be a stronger character in what’s been referred to as a feminist reinvention of the fairy tale. That change is what drew Emma Watson to the role. Now we have word of another progressive update to the latest version of the story: LeFou is officially gay.
In an interview for Attitude magazine, director Bill Condon, who broke out with his Oscar-winning LGBT biopic Gods and Monsters, revealed the sexual orientation of the villain’s sidekick character, played on screen by Josh Gad:
LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston [Luke Evans] and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.
Following the announcement, Gad offered this response and confirmation on Twitter:
Beyond proud of this https://t.co/5wG1KfKqVZ
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) March 1, 2017
As far as this being a milestone for Disney, that may only be a technicality in that LeFou is only the first “explicitly” homosexual character in one of the studio’s movies. Of course, we can now assume that LeFou in the animated version is also gay. In a 2015 BuzzFeed list of Disney characters “who are probably gay,” he was included as the third-most-obvious. Others include Oaken from Frozen, who is widely accepted as being gay. Many fans also believe the same is true of Queen Elsa.
There is some precedent to Condon’s revelation, at least. It had been clear to many viewers of the recent Oscar winner Zootopia that the neighbor characters Bucky and Pronk Oryx-Antlerson, who are voiced respectively by directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush, share a hyphenated last name and are the same sex yet not the same species so must be in a relationship. Finally, Bush confirmed the intended relationship on Twitter last fall, though there’s been no official acknowledgement from Disney.