Disney’s history with queer representation on-screen is, diplomatically, dicey at best. The company’s slow arc toward introducing LGBTQIA+ characters in major roles and tentpole films has laid the groundwork for eventual substance, but here and now, they’re mostly half steps—half steps that, more often than not, are more embarrassing than they are meaningfully progressive.
Disney is by no means the only company that comes off looking bad during Pride every June—there’s a reason “Rainbow Capitalism” has become a snarkily accurate read on major brands rainbow-coating their social media profiles and calling it a job well done for the month. But Disney looks particularly egregious celebrating because, well, all year ‘round it otherwise does the barest of minimums to incorporate LGBTQIA+ stories and characters in its biggest material, leaving them on the cutting room floor or slight enough to be edited out of movies to better appeal to bigoted markets that Disney would otherwise love to see some money out of. And so, this Pride, here’s eight of the queer characters the House of Mouse has somehow managed to herald as major “Firsts” for the studio—ranked by just how embarrassingly minor steps they actually were for one of the biggest entertainment corporations in the world.
[Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this article on 10/19/2021 to include Marvel’s introduction of a queer character in Eternals. It was originally published on 6/3/2021.]