There’s this popular Disney story about a man who has been cursed into a beast because of a past transgression. Then a pure-minded heroine comes along, shows this beast what true love is really like, and this love breaks the curse and restores the beast to his right self.
Beauty & the Beast is one of Disney’s most successful films to date, so much so we are weeks away from the release of a live-action remake.
And suddenly a number of Christians are upset – even boycotting the film and refusing to show it. Why? Because of a single gay character in the film. Not a main character, not the hero, not the villain. Franklin Graham warned christians everywhere that this shift in the story is another example of Disney pushing the “LGBT Agenda” on their children’s hearts and minds.
This outrage, of course, raises a number of questions. First and foremost: why are Christians okay with the “beastiality” ideas of the story but not a gay character?
And I think I have the answer.
For most conservative Christians, Beauty and the Beast has always been about gay people.
It’s really the story they have been told: homosexuality is the result of a curse, an abomination – and those who hide themselves away in that “lifestyle” need only to accept the true love of the pure one, which will cure them of their homosexuality.
Of course, in this situation, the Christian puts herself as Belle, the one who is willing to love the hideous beast and bring out the true beauty underneath.
No one will admit that. I don’t think anyone is really even aware of it.
But after living my entire life in a conservative Christian community, and spending the last 5 years in the conversations between the church and the LGBT community – I’m convinced of it.
And the frustrating truth is that it just takes a few relationships with the amazing folks in the LGBT community to realize there is nothing unclean about them or their love. That this community is the new Church, welcoming and accepting to all, showing grace and forgiveness when those in power choose to silence any viewpoint other than their own.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that my capacity to love is directly related to my capacity to listen. The power of silence-led empathy has been the driving force behind my understanding of unconditional love. For far too long I thought I had the answers. Now I don’t even know if we’re asking the right questions.
Maybe instead of identifying as Belle, folks like Franklin Graham should identity as Gaston, rallying the village to destroy the misunderstood because of fear-driven stories they’ve been told their whole lives.
“He’s no monster, Gaston; you are!” – Belle
Maybe then we could apologize instead of boycott.
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