'Luca' Is Filled With Queer Subtext And Shows Why We Need LGBTQ+ Representation In Disney Films
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'Luca' Is Filled With Queer Subtext And Shows Why We Need LGBTQ+ Representation In Disney Films

The new animated film, "Luca," tells a story of self-acceptance and fitting in that feels all too familiar.

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'Luca' Is Filled With Queer Subtext And Shows Why We Need LGBTQ+ Representation In Disney Films
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdAIBlPVe9s&ab_channel=Pixar

*This article contains minor spoilers of the film.

Disney has an interesting history when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. When it comes to their television shows, there have been some characters that are openly gay. Their films, however, are another story. Sometimes there are background characters that seem gay. They've done this with films like "Zootopia" and the live-action "Beauty and the Beast." However, we have yet to receive a Disney movie centered around an openly gay character or romance.

The reasons for this seems due to society's homophobia and the possible money Disney will lose as a result. The one reason these homophobes often give centers around faux concern for their children. Apparently, they see the image of two princes kissing as sexually explicit. Even though we've been watching princes kiss princesses for decades without anyone batting an eye. They also think that if their kids are exposed to homosexuality, it will "influence" them.

Let me straighten something out, no pun intended. I grew up watching heterosexual romances in Disney movies and was never "influenced" to be straight. I still grew up to be the proud gay man I am today. These homophobes shouldn't be catered to and Disney should take the risk. Don't get me wrong, Disney does celebrate LGBTQ+ families at Disney World with their Gay Days. However, when it comes to their representation, they could improve greatly.

Many of us thought "Luca" was going to be that source of representation. The film tells the story of Luca, a sea monster who turns into a human when out of water. Luca meets a fellow sea monster named Alberto on land. They both share an interest in the human world and become friends. However, they have to deal with the fact that sea monsters are hunted, killed, and looked down on by humans.

At first, many saw similarities between the film and "Call Me By Your Name." For starters, both films take place in Italy, "Call Me By Your Name" was directed by a man named Luca, and some even said Luca looked like Timothée Chalamet's character. Once those comparisons began, speculation as to the nature of Luca and Alberto's relationship. The director of "Luca" quickly shut down those rumors, saying this film takes place before puberty and thoughts of romance.

While there may not be an innocent romance between Luca and Alberto, queer subtext is all over the film. Luca's parents don't want him to go on dry land. They want to keep him away from the bigger world that intrigues him. Many queer people can relate to this. After they discover Luca was on dry land, they threaten to send him away with his uncle. Many have interpreted this to be symbolizing conversion therapy. By the end of the film, Luca's parents learn to accept his desire to be on dry land.

But the subtext is even clearer when observing Luca and Alberto's experiences on dry land. First of all, hunting sea monsters isn't merely treated as a hobby or sport. There are statues celebrating it and there's a bigotry towards them that radiates from the humans. Many LGBTQ+ people view this as symbolizing their status as an oppressed minority. There's also the bullies who target (and later attack) Luca and Alberto. These bullies sense the two are different and go from there. For LGBTQ+ people, this closely resembles the experience of being bullied prior to coming out.

Then there's Giulia, Luca and Alberto's human friend that they meet when they get to town. Her father hunts sea monsters and after discovering their secret, Giulia learns to support them. She refers to the three of them as "outsiders" right away and says people like them need to stick together. Her role in Luca and Alberto's lives resembles that of an ally. For LGBTQ+ people, having an ally in a community where we weren't accepted meant the world. The character of Giulia is a mirror for so many people we befriended growing up.

Alberto becomes jealous of Luca's growing friendship with Giulia. Alberto decides to reveal himself as a sea monster and scares her. Giulia yells at him to go away and Luca follows suit. This moment of betrayal feels just like a queer person coming out with their queer friend, only for that friend to lie and leave them out in the dust. Giulia eventually learns that Luca is also a sea monster, but her reaction is more supportive this time. She actually sends Luca away to protect him from her father.

During the course of the film, Alberto develops a friendship with Giulia's father and we find out later that Alberto's own dad abandoned him. At the end of the film, Giulia's father accepts Luca and Alberto after finding out their secret with the rest of the town. During this rainy scene, two women (who were seen walking together earlier in the film), let down their umbrellas to reveal they're sea monsters as well. When viewing this scene, it was impossible to not view them as a lesbian couple coming out.

The film ends with Luca and Alberto parting ways at a train station. As if the "Call Me By Your Name" similarities couldn't get any more obvious. The truth is, there was no romance between Luca and Alberto. However, the message of their journey is filled with queer subtext. The instinctive need to hide who they are, the bullying, the ally, the parental acceptance tug of war. These are elements of life LGBTQ+ people know far too well.

It reinforces the need for Disney to make a film with LGBTQ+ characters at the forefront. It's ridiculous that there are still films where we must decode the queer subtext in 2021. Yes, it's a children's movie. However, if a prince can kiss a princess in a Disney film, there's no reason a prince can't kiss another prince. If your only problem is with the gender of the person being kissed, you're homophobic. Sure, we got "Out," a cute animated short which premiered on Disney+ during Pride month, but it's not enough.

Disney needs to make a big budget, heavily promoted, large production of a film that centers around a gay romance. It's long overdue. They need to stand up to those who threaten to boycott the company. Curb your faux concern for your kids. If anything, a film like that would teach kids not to judge or bully others who are different. Maybe a film like that would lead to LGBTQ-related bullying to be less prominent in future generations.

I don't know about you, but that's certainly a future I want to see. I think Disney has the power to be an instrumental part of that future. Come on, Disney. We're waiting.

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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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