Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community

By: Greg Gately

Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community

Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community.

The Disney adult community, comprising passionate fans of Disney’s extensive array of films, theme parks, and merchandise, normally can be seen as a positive experience. That is unless it is June and Pride Month, the Opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, or any day ending in Y. However, like any large community, it is not immune to the darker sides of human behavior, including racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry. Despite Disney’s public stance on inclusivity and diversity, the adult fandom sometimes reveals the underbelly of societal prejudices, often manifesting most visibly in online spaces.

Racism in the Disney Adult Community

Racism within the Disney adult community can surface in various ways. When Disney releases films or introduces characters that celebrate non-White cultures, such as “Black Panther” or the live-action “The Little Mermaid,” the casting of Halle Bailey, a Black actress, as Ariel in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” sparked a wave of racially charged backlash. Some fans respond with outright hostility or veiled racism (Dog Whistling). But that was last year, why write this now? Well, at the end of this month, June 28th, 2024, to be exact, Disney will open the controversial Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

When Disney first announced the change in July 2020, we went through the same amount of hate-filled comments, against the idea of retheming “Their History”, a Southern trope from the Civil War era. More importantly, it has turned into a white man’s revisionist history of ‘they’ are the repressed ones, and feminists, blacks, foreigners, and gay people are stealing their heritage and rewriting history. I can never figure out who the ‘they’ are. I could suppose it is anyone who isn’t a straight white male Christian.

Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community
Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community

Homophobia in the Disney Adult Community

Disney’s gradual inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and themes has similarly triggered homophobic reactions from segments of the Disney adult fandom. The 2020 Pixar short film “Out,” featuring Disney’s first gay protagonist, and the inclusion of a same-sex kiss in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” were both met with significant backlash from some fans.

Online discussions often turn vitriolic, with homophobic slurs and derogatory comments. These reactions demonstrate a persistent discomfort and intolerance toward the LGBTQ+ community within the Disney fandom. This hostility can create an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ fans who look to Disney as a source of comfort and representation.

June is Pride Month around the world, and that seems to trigger such a vile response. Instead of living and let live, people view this as an attack on their values. Like, if they even remotely let a story about Pride pass by they will catch the ‘gay’ disease and then be castrated from the flock. Or, now we have to taste the rainbow or take back the rainbow, or whatever the flavor of the month is. I dunno, but as a straight hetero white man, I never felt attacked for my sexual preference in a mate, so I can’t fathom what millions upon millions of LGBTQIA+ individuals have had to deal with for years being persecuted over love.

Disney celebrates with snacks, treats, and murals. But, by the response, you would think that if you even set foot at Walt Disney World, your god will damn you straight to the depths of hell.

Bigotry and General Intolerance

Beyond racism and homophobia, other forms of bigotry are on full display in the Disney adult community. Misogyny, ableism, and xenophobia occasionally rear their ugly heads, particularly in response to Disney’s attempts to modernize its storytelling and character representation. Criticism of characters like Rey from “Star Wars” or Elsa from “Frozen” often crosses the line into misogynistic territory, with detractors using gendered insults and questioning the validity of strong female characters.

You just have to pay attention to any Disability Community right now and the changes to the Disney DAS (Disability Access Services) Pass, and how Disney has laid the blame at the feet of the disabled community for the flaws, instead of saying they (Disney) messed up and just approved anyone. The comment sections are filled with “If you can’t wait in line, don’t go to the park” and “Pay, just like the rest of us!”

The Role of Comment Sections

Comment sections on social media often become the epicenter of these prejudiced attitudes. The anonymity provided by the internet allows individuals to express their bigoted views with fewer repercussions. Trolls and those with deep-seated prejudices exploit these spaces to spread hate, often drowning out more positive and supportive voices.

Negative comments often flood social media platforms, especially on the Disney Invited Media site’s comment sections. These sites should be set at a higher standard for the simple fact Disney invites them out to events, and then these sites act like they represent Disney. These Comment sections become battlegrounds. Yes, even with having the First Amendment, they should still be moderated. But, these responses reveal a resistance to diversity and discomfort with seeing beloved characters reimagined in a way that reflects a broader spectrum of human experience.

Moderation policies on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter can be inconsistent, sometimes allowing harmful comments to persist and proliferate. This environment can be particularly harmful to members of marginalized communities, who may feel attacked and isolated when they seek to engage with content that should be inclusive and joyous.

The Impact on the Community

The presence of racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry in the Disney adult community not only tarnishes the experience for fans but also contradicts the very ideals that Disney strives to uphold. For many, Disney represents a magical escape and a world where everyone is welcome. When bigotry infiltrates this space, it can alienate those who most need the escapism and positivity that Disney provides.

Moving Forward

Addressing these issues requires a concerted effort from both Disney as a company and the platforms that host fan discussions. Disney can continue to champion diversity and inclusivity in its content, making it clear that bigotry has no place in its fanbase. Social media platforms must enforce stricter moderation policies to curtail the spread of hate speech in comment sections.

Moreover, the community itself must foster a culture of inclusivity and respect. This involves calling out racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry when they appear and supporting those who are targeted. By doing so, the Disney adult community can better reflect the magic and inclusivity that Disney strives to embody in its stories and characters.

Racism, Homophobia, and Bigotry in the Disney Adult Community

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