Disney is breaking ground by putting openly LGBTQ characters in their work. They showed a same-sex kiss in Star vs. The Forces of Evil. And the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast will feature an “exclusively gay” moment between Gaston and his adoring manservant LeFou.
Back in the day, however, a children’s entertainment company couldn’t be quite so open about human sexuality and gender identity. But make no mistake: a lot of classic Disney characters were totally gay. Characters like the following:
1. Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
He’s flamboyant, he’s way too well-dressed for a murderous brigand, he surrounds himself exclusively with rough men and he and his bo’sun Smee are extremely close.
In fact, in the live action 1991 adaptation of the story, Dustin Hoffman says he and Bob Hoskins played Hook and Smee “as a couple of old queens.”
“There isn’t a boy who won’t enjoy a-workin’ for Captain Hook,” the pirates sing, for Hook has no interest in women — except as a way to get his hands on a certain flying twink in green tights.
2. Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
Shere Khan’s bored aristocratic manner of speech got him mentioned in LGBTQ linguistic documentary Do I Sound Gay? The villainous cat manages to be simultaneously well-mannered and savage, a feat very few straight boys can pull off.
In this scene, Shere Khan and snake Khaa (a hypnotic animated Creepy Uncle if we ever saw one) argue over possession of a “man-cub.” The implications are obvious.
3. Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
The purple hat. The bows in his hair. The little moustache. The purse dog. And that song:
4. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
The word “gay” may be inadequate to describe Ursula. Ursula is her own sexual orientation. Ursula is her own gender. Ursula needs her own pronouns.
The character was based on legendary drag queen Divine. And much of her magic concerns personal transformation.
5. and 6. Timon and Pumbaa (The Lion King)
Not all classic gay Disney characters were villains. Much has been said about Scar (so we won’t bother), but what about the interracial stoner couple that adopts Simba? They’re social outcasts (because of homophobia, possibly), and they talk about butts an awful lot.
7-13. The Seven Dwarves (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
A group of rugged, isolated, lonely men return home from a day at the mines to discover the most beautiful girl in the kingdom sleeping in their communal bed (omg), and their immediate response is… terror. Then they stick their asses in the air for some reason — force of habit, presumably.