Out (2020)

It’s Pride Month, and you know what that means! It’s time for corporations to slap rainbows on their logos and pat themselves on the back so hard that they’ll strain something! And this applies to streaming services, too! Netflix has an LGBTQ section, although it’s there year-round and isn’t being advertised on the main site as of writing. Tubi actually does have their LGBTQIA+ Pride movies on the front page, but after you click the Load More button (and it’s also a year-round thing). And Disney+ has… several TV shows that feature one (1) gay side character, a couple shorts with some gay themes, and a few documentaries. At least it’s on the main page, though! That almost makes up for things like their consistent lack of queer representation, their ability to easily remove any overt queerness they do add in order to appease homophobic countries (and their money), and stuff like a gay man suing the company for discrimination due to his sexual orientation. Yay Pride!

So let’s look at one of those shorts, Out. The story is about a gay man named Greg who hasn’t come out to his parents yet. When his folks show up to help him move, he kicks out his boyfriend, Manuel, and pretends that nothing is amiss. However, a magical cat and dog duo that came out of a rainbow and have house music follow them wherever they go–just enjoy the ride–enchanted the collar of Greg’s dog so that when Greg picks it up, he and his dog switch bodies. It’s a comedy of errors as Greg tries to cover up his body’s weird dog behaviors while also keeping his mom away from a picture of him and Manuel. The dog’s antics spur Greg’s mom to vent about her sadness that her son is moving so far away, and that he hasn’t come out to them, because of they know. In the end Greg and his dog switch bodies back, Manuel is warmly introduced to the parents, and a post-credits scene shows that the parents enjoy “Pink & Purple,” the electro music that was associated with the magical cat and dog. Oh, and the cat is apparently voiced by a drag queen!

I will say that this exceeded my expectations in that it was overtly gay in a way that cannot be censored without throwing the whole thing out. Greg and Manuel even share an onscreen kiss! I will deduct a point for the word “gay” never being stated–and even avoided in a super obvious way–but the short is gay and pretty good! But I started this post with a chip on my shoulder, so I’m going to indulge that.

Disney has a bad track record on queer content in their films. The majority of gay or lesbian moments are short and inconsequential enough that they can be cut from the film and not a whole lot changes. I’m looking at you, incredibly overhyped lesbian kiss in Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker. For years they would have a character that is queer coded and just let the audience do the work for them. Early on it was generally queer coded villains–Scar from The Lion King and Ursula from The Little Mermaid being modeled off of infamous drag queen Divine are big examples. Then it became queer coded supporting characters without direct confirmation–LeFou from the live action Beauty and the Beast dancing with a man for a few seconds. I will say that lately Disney has stepped up their game in that Cruella has a queer coded character–Archie–who is actually played by a gay actor! Sure, when directly asked about his character’s orientation, Mr. John McCrea said, “It depends on who you’re asking, I suppose…” But forget about that! The follow up to that line is, “but for me, yes, it’s official: he’s queer.” The actor says his character is gay, and that’s almost like the company saying it!

This is clearly a pet peeve of mine, so I won’t retread what I’ve already complained about in the Avengers: Endgame post. What’s relevant is that Out is unapologetically gay and good. But in the end it’s just another baby step for a company old enough that it should be strutting by now.

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