In A Great Move, Disney’s Beauty And The Beast Will Include A Gay Character. How Will You Discuss With Your Kids?
By Mike McMahan, LPC
Huge kudos, thumbs up and all the rest to Disney for their announcement that the new live action Beauty and the Beast starring Hermione Granger herself will include an openly gay character. There are a lot of reasons that this is positive, many of which I discussed previously when advocating for #GiveElsaAGirlfriend. In the most predictable move ever, Christian social conservatives are not one bit happy. I know this goes against their values, but, really; it's not as if this is going to be some sort of explicit sex scene. It's Disney.
I’ve tried to more or less stay away from politics on this blog, because, let’s face it: there’s a million other places to discuss this and virtually every site in the world is Trump 24/7—love him or hate him. But the field of psychology is very pro-LGBTQ, as am I personally. But I also understand that the issue of homosexuality can be tricky to address with kids; as can, frankly, any issue of sex or sexuality. So how to discuss this matter with children, especially younger ones?
I am a big fan of books, and the best one that I know of concerning LGBTQ families is And Tango Makes Three, the charming story of a penguin with two dads. What I like about this book (besides everything) is that the fact that Tango has two dads isn’t a huge issue. It just is. That sort of normalizing is a perfect way to address an issue with kids without beating them over the head with it.
Another option is just to be open with kids. Though I am not gay, I do have LGBTQ friends, family and co-workers; as, I’m sure, the social conservatives railing against this film do. When my daughter, who is almost five, met a friend and colleague who is lesbian, I mentioned that she was getting married. When my daughter asked me about it, I responded that “mostly boys fall in love with and marry girls, and mostly girls fall in love with and marry boys. But sometimes boys fall in love with boys and girls fall in love with girls.”
Her response? “Oh.” Talk over.
Someday we will get to a place where this will be virtually everyone’s reaction. We’re getting there now, but we aren’t all the way there, clearly. The Bible is currently being used as the key argument against homosexuality, just as it was in the not-too-distant past, when interracial marriage was much more controversial (and much less common) than it is now. And when we hit that point, it won’t be news that there are gay characters. But we aren’t there yet. And for those LGBTQ youth who are scared and isolated, Disney’s move is an important step in letting them know they’re loved just like all children should be and deserve to be.
Mike McMahan, LPC is a psychotherapist based in San Antonio, Tx.
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Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture