On June 17, Toy Story fans will be introduced to the story of how Buzz Lightyear became the legendary space ranger we know and love with the release of Pixar’s newest film, Lightyear. Chris Evans will play the titular astronaut. Taika Waititi will also star in the film as Morrison. Keke Palmer will voice the character Izzy. Lightyear will show how Buzz Lightyear went from an ordinary test pilot to an icon.
Lightyear will feature an openly gay character — voiced by Uzo Aduba –and the original cut had shown a same-sex kiss. That kiss ended up being cut from the film. However, following the hot water that Disney found itself in due to its response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — we are learning that the same-sex kiss has been put back into the film.
According to Variety, which broke the news:
According to a source close to the production, Pixar’s next feature film, “Lightyear” — starring Chris Evans as the putative real-life inspiration for the “Toy Story” character Buzz Lightyear — does feature a significant female character, Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), who is in a meaningful relationship with another woman. While the fact of that relationship was never in question at the studio, a kiss between the characters had been cut from the film. Following the uproar surrounding the Pixar employees’ statement and Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, however, the kiss was reinstated into the movie last week…
But according to multiple former Pixar employees who spoke with Variety on the condition of anonymity, creatives within the studio have tried for years to incorporate LGBTQ identity into its storytelling in ways big and small, only to have those efforts consistently thwarted. (A spokesperson for Disney declined to comment for this story.)
Over the years, Disney and Pixar films have had same-sex characters, but they have never been featured. Their relationships have been in the background. Onward featured a one-eyes police officer who mentioned her girlfriend. Toy Story 4 showed two mothers hugging their child goodbye. The 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast showed LeFou having feelings for Gaston and potentially another male character. It has also been speculated that Oaken from the 2013 film Frozen was also in a same-sex relationship.
The move to add the same-sex kiss back into Lightyear is the latest step in Disney attempting to do damage control for its Florida response. Disney CEO Bob Chapek has made a more firm stance on his objection to the bill. Chapek has also announced that Disney has paused all political donations to Florida politicians. In response, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has called Disney “woke”. DeSantis also criticized the company for its business dealings with China.
Currently, Lightyear is slated for theatrical release on June 17. The theatrical release will be the first Pixar has seen in a while, as its most recent films — Turning Red, Luca, and Soul — have all been released straight to Disney+.