GLAAD president: "Beauty and the Beast" foes are "outliers"

Negative reactions to word of Disney including a gay character in its live-action “Beauty and the Beast” have made headlines recently, but GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told CBS News that critics of the move are “outliers,” not the mainstream.

Earlier this month, director Bill Condon revealed that his adaptation of the 1991 animated film featured a “gay moment” for one of its characters, LeFou, who is played by Josh Gad. 

“It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie,” he said.

In response, an Alabama drive-in theater refused to screen the film, which opens today, and Russia’s ministry of culture chose to release the film with an adults-only rating. Disney also opted to scrap its plans to release the film in Malaysia after the government’s censors agreed to release the film after the “gay moment” had been edited out. 

“Those are outliers,” Ellis said. “The opponents of this film are trying to position themselves as pro-family, and they’re really anti-family and anti-LGBTQ. I think that they are few and far between.”

While Condon and others promoting the film have tried to downplay the significance of the moment in the film, Ellis explained that such visibility is important. 

“It is a small moment in the film, but it is a huge leap forward for the film industry,” she said. “Having LGBTQ representation in all ages of programming is incredibly important. These portrayals help both LGBTQ youth to recognize that they are not alone and to validate their identity -- especially internationally in countries where being LGBTQ is still criminalized.”

“What we know is that about 17 percent of the films released by the big studios have LGBTQ inclusion -- and most of it negative inclusion, where it’s either the punching bag or the punchline. It’s a problem in the industry as a whole,” she continued. 

“Having LGBTQ people in the stories that we tell on the big screen is very important, not only for adult LGBTQ people but for youth so that they can see themselves reflected. What’s so important when you are LGBTQ is to see positive role models, to see people who reflect your life.”