GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the queer characters in family movies like Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast are a “good place to start” toward inclusion.
In an interview with Heat Vision, Ellis discussed how important it is to have LGBTQ representation in movies aimed at young people.
“LGBTQ youth deserve a happily ever after just like everyone else,” she said, adding that positive portrayals of queer people in pop culture can be a “lifeline” to lonely children.
They are small inclusions. It appears that they are testing the waters and it is a step absolutely in the right direction. This is not the end game. We want to see better and more inclusion than we are seeing now. We have to start somewhere and this is a good place to start.
Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers have both made headlines for including an LGBTQ character among the cast. Both films have drawn controversy and boycotts for their characters as well. Still, Beauty and the Beast has done well at the box office with the power of Disney behind it.
Though these characters represent a step in the right direction, it’s still a very small step. In either instance, the character’s queerness is very minor to the plot, easily glossed over or edited out. LeFou is a minor character, and his gayness has been described as a small “moment.” And Trini’s queerness in Power Rangers is only mentioned offhand.
The need to appeal to international audiences in countries with much more conservative values (and heavy government censorship) might be putting pressure on filmmakers to keep characters in the closet as well. Russia banned children from seeing Beauty and the Beast for its gay character, and Malaysian censors threatened to cut the scene.