- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2017

Bill Condon, director of the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” says the controversy surrounding his reveal about an “exclusively gay moment” in the new Disney film has been overblown.

Mr. Condon made international headlines last week after he told Britain’s Attitude magazine that he depicted Josh Gad’s LeFou as confused about his feelings toward the film’s macho antagonist, Gaston, played by Luke Evans.

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Mr. Condon said. “And 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.”

The news was hailed by the LGBT community as a first for Disney, which has steered clear from portraying openly gay characters on the big screen. It also sparked condemnation from religious groups, with evangelist Franklin Graham calling on Christians to boycott Disney. A drive-in theater in Henagar, Alabama, even canceled its planned screenings of the film because of the so-called gay moment.

Now, Mr. Condon said his words are being blown way out of proportion.

“It’s all been overblown,” he told ScreenCrush. “Because it’s just this, it’s part of just what we had fun with. You saw the movie, yeah? You know what I mean. I feel like the kind of thing has been, I wish it were — I love the way it plays pure when people don’t know and it comes as a nice surprise.

“Why is it a big deal?” he asked.

The moment that has caused such a stir (warning: spoilers) is when Mr. Gad’s LeFou shares a dance with another man “who previously experienced a self-realization moment of femininity with a wardrobe,” ScreenCrush reported.

“There’s also a few lines of dialogue that seem to allude to LeFou’s crush on Gaston,” ScreenCrush noted, but LeFou’s sexuality is never discussed.

“There was nothing in the script that said ‘LeFou is gay,’” Mr. Gad told USA Today. “I hope that it’s a surprise to audiences to some extent, although I don’t think it is anymore.”

Regardless, “I’m honored to have that moment as part of my character’s arc,” he said.

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