A Disney executive pledged to make at least 50% of its regular characters on its properties to be members of the LGBTQ community by the end of the year.
Karey Burke, the president of Disney’s General Entertainment Content, which oversees the multi-billion dollar company’s host of entertainment properties, including characters for its popular Star Wars, Marvel, and various Disney franchises, said that Disney must do more to make its content more inclusive.
Speaking in a company-wide Zoom call on Monday that was shared on Twitter by journalist Christopher Rufo, the Disney corporate president said, “as the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child,” she wants to see “many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories.”
“I’m here as a mother of two queer children, actually,” Burke said on the call. “One transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader.”
LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies).
The Zoom call was reportedly part of the company’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign, according to the video. The company’s official website promises that at least 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney’s franchises will come from “underrepresented groups.”
During the call, Burke said she was dismayed to learn from a coworker that the company only had a “handful” of queer lead characters.
“And I went, ‘What? That can’t be true,’” Burke said. “And I realized it actually is true. We have many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories and yet we don’t have enough leads and narratives in which gay characters just get to be characters and not have to be about gay stories.”
In addition to changing the nature of its content to be more woke, another Disney employee announced that the company had eliminated the use of gender pronouns throughout its theme parks last summer as part of the ongoing effort to be more inclusive.
“Last summer we removed all gendered greetings in relationship to our live spiels,” said Disney diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware. “So, we no longer say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … It’s hello everyone or hello friends.”
“We no longer say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” Ware continued. “We say dreamers of all ages.”
It is unclear if Disney’s move to eradicate the gender binary from its content will also spell the end of Disney princesses, which were established as a part of the company’s iconic brand by its founder, Walt Disney.
“I hope this is a moment where — shoot, the 50 percent of the tears, sorry, are coming — we just don’t allow each other to go backwards,” said Burke.