5 Openly Gay People Who Have Worked at Disney
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5 Openly Gay People Who Have Worked at Disney

Although Disney Animation and Pixar have never included openly gay characters in their films, gay producers and animators are more abundant than you might think.

5 Openly Gay People Who Have Worked at Disney

In recent months, #GiveElsaAGirlfriend started trending on Twitter, prompting responses that ranged from agreement that it was high time for Disney to include an openly gay character in one of their animated films, to outrage from homophobic parents who threatened to flat-out ban Disney in their home should that ever happen. It's no surprise that a proposition like this would be met with some resistance, but it made me realize that most audiences probably aren't aware just how many artistic roles at Disney and Pixar are filled by openly gay individuals. And it goes beyond voice actors such as Jonathan Groff (Kristoff in Frozen) and Ellen DeGeneres (Dory in Finding Nemo - but I bet you knew that). Sure, having gay people working on a film behind the scenes is different from having an openly gay character, but it shows that finding a Disney film uninfluenced by members of the LGBT community is going to be difficult.

There are bound to be more, but I've compiled a short list of some more prominent examples:

1. Darla K. Anderson

Anderson has worked at Pixar since 1993, and the infamous Darla in Finding Nemo was named after her, a loving jab from director Andrew Stanton to get back at her for playing pranks on him in the studio. She's worked on all of Pixar's feature films, but she's most known for producing A Bug's Life, Cars, and Toy Story 3. Anderson married fellow Pixar producer Kori Rae (Monsters University) in 2004, then again in 2008, since their marriage license had been voided the first time by the California Supreme Court.

2. Byron Howard

After serving as an animator on films from Pocahontas to Brother Bear, Howard made the transition to directing his own films, starting with Bolt and continuing with Tangled and, most recently, Zootopia (a Golden Globe winner as of now). In a documentary detailing production on Zootopiaas well as its themes regarding prejudice and bias, he expressed that he can relate to its messages as a gay man, and mentioned that he's been married for nearly thirty years.

3. Andreas Deja

Perhaps most famous for animating iconic Disney villains such as Gaston, Jafar, and Scar, Deja has worked with Disney since the 1980s and describes Disney as "an extremely gay-friendly company," also saying that the inclusion of a gay character in a Disney film may very well happen when the higher-ups find a story that they feel would fit that character best.

4. Dean DeBlois

Although he has since moved on to Dreamworks Animation, DeBlois served as co-director on Lilo & Stitch, along with Chris Sanders. According to him, their coworkers at Disney Animation "knew that one of [them] was gay," but assumed it was the skinnier and more well-dressed Sanders.

5. Howard Ashman

After achieving massive success with his off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, Ashman's first job at Disney was co-writing the opening song from Oliver & Company. From there, he (along with his composing partner from Little Shop, Alan Menken) was enlisted to write the music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, all of which earned Oscar nominations for him and Menken. According to his sister, Howard experienced bullying for his flamboyant personality in his young life, which influenced his work on Beauty and the Beast (which he also produced), whose two main characters were outcasts in their society.

But the greats never last - Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in March 1991, months before the release of Beauty and the Beast. The film was dedicated to his memory, and Tim Rice of Phantom of the Opera fame took over for him to finish writing the lyrics in Aladdin.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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