In March Disney made waves by introducing their first officially gay character. In the live action version “Beauty and the Beast” it’s revealed that LeFou is gay and is low key in love with Gaston. The close minded were outraged, shouting about how inappropriate it was to have a gay character in a children’s movie. The majority of people were delighted, saying it was about time that Disney finally had some gay representation in their movies. But some reacted by basically saying, “duh.”
Many people with media critical perspectives pointed out that Disney has been writing characters that are kind of gay for a really long time. If you watch Disney movies and read between the lines, there are definitely some characters that give off a gay vibe, and there are even some pairs that could be viewed as secret gay couples. Unfortunately, many of the gay coded characters in Disney movies have been villains, but that’s a whole other discussion.
Of course, the conservative people out there who don’t think it’s appropriate to have gay characters in kid’s movies would probably be appalled at the suggestion that Disney has been throwing in low key gay characters for years. But for the LGBTQ people out there who are used to reading between to see any characters like them, these characters have become icons.
Some of the theories about secret gay couples in Disney movies are a bit farfetched, but some are right in your face, if you’re willing to look hard enough. Here are some Disney pairs who are kind of gay for each other.
12 Gaston and LeFou from “Beauty and the Beast”
Let’s start with the most obvious pair, and the pair that Disney has made canon. Obviously, LeFou is gay, even in the animated movie. He follows Gaston around everywhere and does everything for him. They’re surrounded by beautiful women all the time, apparently because they love Gaston so much, but LeFou never even glances at them. His eyes are on Gaston 24/7. I mean, he even sings an entire song about Gaston’s fabulousness. How is that not true love?
But what about Gaston? Clearly, he’s straight, right? Not so fast. What if all the skirt chasing is actually a cover? He’s surrounded by beautiful women, but he “fixates” on a woman he knows is never going return his affections. Maybe the arrogant jerk personality is act so everything thinks he’s a womanizer. Maybe he feels the same way about LeFou as LeFou does about him and his internalized toxic masculinity won’t let him admit it.
11 Timon and Pumbaa from “The Lion King”
This one doesn’t require too much reading between the lines. I think we’re supposed to believe that Timon and Pumbaa are like hetero life mates, but let’s get real. They’re two men, living alone in the jungle together. They’re just a cute gay couple, living together in paradise and when Simba comes along, they decide to adopt a kid. They’re literally two men raising a child together. Not that dressing in women’s clothes makes you gay, but Timon also shows a predilection for hula skirts and leis at one point in the movie.
Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa is actually a beautiful story about gay adoption. Two men raise him together, without any messaging about what it means to “be a real man.” The result is a kind, free-spirited young man who’s in touch with his feelings and his passions, who’s capable of overthrowing an evil dictator.
10 Captain Hook and Smee from “Peter Pan”
The relationship between Captain Hook and Smee is pretty similar to that of Gaston and LeFou. Captain Hook is a man dripping with toxic masculinity. He’s constantly going out of his way to try to prove what a “man” he is, maybe because he’s wearing heeled boots and a frilly coat. Smee runs around after him, attending to his every need. Smee is also highly invested in convincing everyone around him of how awesome Captain Hook is. Smee is either a really devoted deckhand, or he’s got some pretty strong feelings about Hook.
Also, there’s no mention of any human women in Neverland, so neither Hook nor Smee are ever seen with any romantic prospects. There is the myth that women are bad luck on ships, so I can buy the fact that there aren’t any female pirates to get cozy with on the Jolly Roger, but the fact that neither Hook nor Smee seem to want any women around leads me to believe they’re getting their needs met in their cabin below deck.
9 Grimsby and Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid”
There are plenty examples of May-December relationships in the gay community, which seems like what might be going on with Grimsby and Prince Eric. Prince Eric is a young, handsome man in the prime of his life, but no one can convince him to get married. Apparently, he’s had multiple offers, but he’s not really interested in any of them.
But wait a minute, you’ll say. Prince Eric was waiting to find true love. Okay, but when he meets the beautiful Ariel, he’s not really about that. He’s not even interested in kissing her. Eventually, he has to be cursed before he falls in love with a woman. Yeah, he ends up marrying Ariel in the end, but it’s got beard written all over it.
As for Grimsby, he’s a lifelong bachelor who’s devoted everything to caring for and advising Prince Eric. He’s probably an old queen who just never found the right man, and now he’s loving Prince Eric from afar.
8 Mulan and Li Shang from “Mulan”
So, you’re probably thinking, “how could this possibly be a secret gay Disney relationship?” Yes, Mulan was a woman all along and Shang Li apparently didn’t fall in love with her until he suddenly found out that she was a woman. But I call shenanigans on that.
First of all, Shang Li sings a whole song about making a man out of his soldiers, which if you really think about it, is a pretty gay song. He’s going to assert his manliness to make them “real men.” I think there’s way more to that than just combat skills.
Shang Li starts to favor Mulan, who he thinks is a man named Ping, over the other soldiers long before he knows that Ping is actually Mulan. Shang Li is impressed by Ping/Mulan’s performance and his/her perceived “manliness.” They start to get close, and then there’s that scene in the tent where they get real close, while Shang Li still thinks Mulan is a man.
You could argue that Shang Li was like, inherently drawn to Mulan’s feminine energy, but I think he was falling in love with Ping, not Mulan.
7 Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from “Sleeping Beauty”
Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, the three older fairies who become women to raise Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty, are definitely a gaggle of lesbians. Or a pair of lesbians living with their lifelong bachelorette friend. There’s never any mention of men in their lives and there’s never any mention that there have ever been men in their lives. I guess you could argue that there aren’t any male fairies, but then what do the lady fairies do when they get an urge? That’s right, an entire society of lesbian fairies.
I like to believe these three are all in a poly lesbian relationship. These three ladies abandon their entire lives and their magic in order to adopt and raise a young child. It would be a lot to ask three single ladies who aren’t that close to do that, even if it was for the greater good. It’s much more likely that these three have cohabitated and been really “close” for a while.
6 Cogsworth and Lumiere from “Beauty and the Beast”
One of the songwriters for “Beauty and the Beast” was actually a gay man who had many friends with AIDS. He saw the story of the Beast’s isolation and rejection from society as an allegory for what was happening to the gay community in the 80’s and 90’s.
When you find that out, it’s not surprising there were a couple secret gay couples in the movie, like Gaston and LeFou and Cogsworth and Lumiere. Cogsworth and Lumiere are together for most of the movie, despite the fact that there are multiple other people in the house. Cogsworth could be getting it with Mrs. Potts, or the armoire in Belle’s room, but he spends all his time chasing Lumiere.
Now, Lumiere is portrayed as a womanizer. He’s always off chasing the lady candlestick, who’s clearly a sexy maid, but he spends all the rest of his time with Cogsworth. Cogsworth is always scolding him jealously for running off with the lady candlestick, and Lumiere is always insisting it’s not a big deal.
My guess is that Lumiere is a bi and Cogsworth is his sometimes lover. They definitely argue like a couple.
5 Sebastian and Scuttle from “The Little Mermaid”
Sebastian and Scuttle are both single guys who don’t seem to have any interest in partners. In fact, we don’t even see female crabs or seagulls in the movie, so it’s not like they’re involved with anyone. They’re both perfectly happy to be the single best friends of a teenage, boy obsessed girl, but neither of them seem particularly interested in said girl. Scuttle is always helping Ariel accessorize and Sebastian’s main function is to listen to Ariel wax romantic over this guy she met for like a minute. Sound familiar? Maybe like your gay BFF?
So, they meet each other through this mutual friend and at first they’re not really in to each other at all. They nitpick and argue over every little thing, especially what their BFF should do about this guy. Eventually, they have to combine forces to help out said BFF, and as they do, they get really close. They even attend her wedding together!
4 Iago and Jafar from “Aladdin”
Disney really has a thing for making villains and their sidekicks be kind of gay for each other. Jafar and Iago are another pretty typical example. Jafar does have his eyes on Jasmine, but only for her access to the throne. He doesn’t actually want her or love her. He just wants to be king and he sees Jasmine as his only way to get the throne. I mean, he has her tied up basically as his slave and the most he tries to do is steal a kiss, which he’s probably only doing to prove that he wants her.
In reality, Jafar is all about his sidekick, Iago, who has eyes only for Jafar. Like all of the other kind of gay sidekicks, Iago doesn’t have any purpose other than catering to Jafar’s every need. And he doesn’t really have any external motivation to be Jafar’s gopher. Jafar has promised him riches or power. The only thing Iago is looking for is the privilege of being by Jafar’s side while he rules the kingdom.
3 Pocahontas and Nakoma from “Pocahontas”
The coded love story of Nakoma and Pocahontas will be familiar to any queer identifying person who’s fallen in love with their best friend. Nakoma and Pocahontas grew up together and they’ve always been super close. At some point, Nakoma realized that she liked Pocahontas as more than a friend, but she didn’t know how to tell her.
Pocahontas is an independent woman who has literally no interest in being married off in order to preserve peace within her tribe. Her father is pushing her to marry Kocoum, who’s handsome and kind and a good warrior, and Pocahontas is so not interested.
When John Smith shows up and tries to seduce Pocahontas, Nakoma is obviously wary and pretty low key jealous. She wants Pocahontas all to herself. And eventually, after toying with the idea of John Smith, Pocahontas rejects him and Kocoum to do her own thing.
In my own fantasy world, the real end of the story is Pocahontas and Nakoma taking over their tribe and turning it in to a matriarchy.
2 Baloo and Bagheera from “The Jungle Book”
Once you start reading between the lines, it’s pretty easy to see that Disney has a real pattern of writing stories about two same sex partners raising orphan children or children in distress. Timon and Pumbaa raising Simba, the fairies raising Sleeping Beauty, Scuttle and Sebastian raising Ariel, and, of course, Baloo and Bagheera raising Mowgli.
Like Scuttle and Sebastian, Baloo and Bagheera are brought together by their mutual commitment to the child they begin raising together. When Bagheera loses Mowgli, Baloo finds Mowgli and begins to raise him as his own. When they reunite with Bagheera, Baloo and Bagheera become a loving set of parents. Baloo is the carefree and fun parent, while Bagheera is the disciplinarian. They bond over their love of the child and cement their relationship through co-parenting.
When Mowgli returns to the humans, I bet Baloo and Bagheera saunter off in to the jungle to find a new home together.
1 Jumba and Pleakley from “Lilo and Stitch”
And finally, we have the most obviously gay couple in Disney history: Jumba and Pleakley. In a way, Disney used the fact that these two were aliens to send some pretty progressive messages. Both of the characters could be interpreted as having no gender in the traditional sense because they’re aliens and maybe gender doesn’t exist to them. Jumba is pretty masculine, but he’s doesn’t embody toxic masculinity. He’s generally a kind guy who’s in touch with his feelings, which makes him an atypical representation of masculinity.
Pleakley is truly agender. Pleakley is referred to by male pronouns, but his first name is Wendy and he has no problem with pretending to be a woman.
At one point in the movie, Pleakley and Jumba even pretend to be married. It wasn’t exactly necessary for them to pull off the deception they were engaged in, but they pretend to be married anyway. These two are definitely in some kind of queer relationship.
Disney has a pretty long track record of writing characters that are low key gay. These are just some of the examples of pairs that may have been in secret queer relationships. Making LeFou gay in the live action “Beauty and the Beast” was a great step, but it’s about time that Disney gave a main character a same sex love interest. That’s why I’m all for #GiveElsaAGirlfriend.
Sources: Vanity Fair, Disney movies referenced