Now in 2017, Disney is releasing a new live-action update of the movie. It stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. The director is Bill Condon, who helmed Chicago, Dreamgirls and the final two Twilight films.
The film also stars Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston's sidekick. Gad's been in many films and TV shows, but may be best known as the voice of Olaf in Frozen. But his latest character is breaking some new ground.
On the topic of Lefou's attraction to Gaston, Condon said, “Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Lefou, of course, is a fairly minor character. His main purpose is to be silly and provide comic relief. However, he's the first character in a Disney movie to be revealed as gay. And Attitude editor Matt Cain says that's important.
“This is a watershed moment for Disney,” Cain said. “By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural.” He added that, “this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.”
Cain also pointed out this is just one step towards improving the representation of gay characters in movies. “It’s a step in the right direction and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it,” he said. “And in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.”