Karine Jean-Pierre
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Disney Execs Promote ‘Not-So-Secret’ Gay Agenda in Leaked Internal Vid

Disney meeting

As Disney faces criticism for not fighting a controversial Florida bill sooner, video footage from an internal call shows executives explaining the company’s supposed atmosphere of tolerance.

Animation director Latoya Raveneau, a director on shows including The Proud Family, was depicted in the video. In it, she described feeling concerns when she first worked at Disney because she heard rumors the company played it too safe with content.

“But then, my experience was bafflingly the opposite of what I had heard,” she said in footage that has since been posted to Twitter. “In my little pocket of Proud Family Disney TVA, the showrunners were super-welcoming. [Disney Television Animation senior vice president] Meredith Roberts and our leadership over there has been so welcoming to my not-at-all-secret gay agenda. So I felt like maybe it was that way in the past but I guess something must have happened. They were turning it around.”

She discussed pushing to place same-sex couples in the background of shows, a shift at Disney, which for years came under fire for censoring such images and downplaying what little LGBTQ+ representation existed.

Videos from the webinar were leaked to right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, who shared them with followers.


The conference call was likely to ease internal tensions at Disney amid criticism that the company, a major employer in Florida at its Walt Disney World theme parks, remained neutral as the Florida Legislature debated the controversial “don’t say gay” bill. Only after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation into law did the company vow to fight for its repeal or for it to be struck down in court.

One video showed Karey Burke, president of Disney General Entertainment Content discussing being a mother to LGBTQ+ children.

“I’m here as a mother to two queer children actually, one transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader.” Burke said in the video. “That was the thing that really got me because I have heard so much from so many of my colleagues over the course of the last couple weeks.”

The new law’s critics have lambasted Disney for not speaking up sooner. There have been  protests and employee walkouts at Disney’s Florida parks. The law prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, something critics fear will stifle representation and even the acknowledgement that LGBTq+ people exist. Many also fear provisions will lead to children being outed to parents even in unsupportive homes where the children could face hardship or harm.

The company has worked in recent years to remedy a reputation of failing to advance LGBTQ+ representation, but production coordinator Allen March said the company has worked in recent years to produce content with more representation. “They’ve been really open to exploring queer stories,” he said. For example, he discussed how if storylines take place in New York, the world on film should be an accurate reflection of New York. That included creating a tracker on background characters in scenes to make sure a certain percentage were gender-nonconforming characters.

“It’s not just a numbers game of how many LGBTQ+ characters you have,” he said, “the more centered a story is on a character, the more nuance you get to get into their story.”

Rufo is best known for stoking outrage about critical race theory, a complex legal theory not taught in grade school, to the point that states including Florida have banned the subject in classrooms.

“We are waging moral war against Disney,” he tweeted. “We are directly targeting their public reputation. We are turning half of their customers against them.”

Much of the response to the leaked videos has been pro-LGBTQ+.

“Please do articulate what you find problematic in what she describes,” reads a response tweet from user An Onoma on the Raveneau video. “Do you think two characters kissing in the background is fine for children to see only if it is a heterosexual couple?”

 

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