Pixar’s Out is Disney’s first LGBTQ animated short film
While it’s not one of their global releases, Pixar’s Out— the first among the brand new animated short films for Disney’s streaming service– is Disney’s first LGBTQ animated short film.
A SparkShort film that recently debuted on Disney+, Out is about a gay man named Greg who contemplates coming out to his family when they drop by for a surprise visit.
Of course, since this is Disney, expect cute hijinks to occur while featuring great animation, diverse-looking characters, and an adorable dog.
Pixar’s Out: A queer story
Part of Disney+ and Pixar’s SparkShort program to discover new voices and experiment with different, the nine-minute short film is the creation of Steven Clay Hunter, who wrote and directed it.
A 23-year veteran animator at Pixar, Hunter had drawn so many characters, ranging from a seven-armed octopus to a wheezing toy penguin.
However, the gay character Greg is Hunter’s first LGBTQ character– which is apt as Greg is loosely based on Hunter himself.
Speaking to TIME, Hunter said: “The first time I drew Greg and Manuel holding each other in the bedroom, I was bawling my face off.”
“All this emotion came welling up because I realized I had been in animation for decades and I had never drawn that in my career. It just hit me,” he said.
Pixar’s Out: Somewhat a true story
The beginning of the film says “based on a true story” and– despite the magical elements in the story– Hunter admits the central story is autobiographical.
“The relationship of Manuel and Greg is something I went through. I wasn’t out to my family and I was in a relationship but they didn’t know about him,” he explained.
“It took a toll on our relationship and we ended up breaking up because of that. And that break-up led to me coming out to my family, over the phone in a conference room at Pixar,” he added.
Hunter came up with the idea of a coming-out film five years ago, and when the Pixar SparkShorts program started, he pitched the idea and it was accepted. Filming was done by December.
To animate the first gay kiss for a Disney film, Hunter worked with Wendell Lee, the only other gay animator still at Pixar when Hunter had earlier worked with them.
Hunter related; “I just went to him and said, ‘You’ve got to animate this.’ And he was like, ‘Heck yeah.’ I said, ‘I want a kiss. I don’t want a peck.'”
Not the first LGBTQ character
While this is the first time an LGBTQ character is the main protagonist in an animated Disney film, this isn’t their first LGBTQ character.
Disney Pixar’s Onward, which was released this year, featured the first openly gay character: Officer Spector, a cyclops cop that was voiced by actress Lena Waithe.
But while Office Spector mentions she has a girlfriend and a daughter in the story, she’s only a minor character in the movie. Despite this, the movie was banned in Middle Eastern countries.
Meanwhile, Gaston’s sidekick in the 2017’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was barely hinted to be gay.
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD said the short animated film is “a huge step forward for the Walt Disney Company.”
Jeremy Blacklow, GLAAD’s director of entertainment media, said: “Out represents the best of Disney and Pixar’s legacy as a place for heartwarming stories about finding one’s own inner strength in the face of life’s challenges.”
For more about the animated short film, check out the teaser below: