Hundreds of Disney Employees Protest ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law, Demanding More Than Stopping Donations to Politicians
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Last Tuesday the 22nd, hundreds of employees of The Walt Disney Company carried out a general pattern in different parts of the United States to protest against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ proposition that it would prohibit education in Florida schools in sexual and gender diversity, in addition to pointing out again that The Walt Disney Company’s response has been late and absolutely insufficient. Several groups of company workers were seen protesting with banners in Burbank and Glendale, California, and next to the company’s theme parks in Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida.
? Steve Desaulniers (@steve_desaul) March 22, 2022
These protests have not been called by the “official” LGTBQ + association of Disney, nor by the unions, but they have managed to generate a lot of noise after it was discovered that the company has donated money to Republican politicians who voted in favor of the homophobic bill. Bob Chapek, current CEO of The Walt Disney Company, issued a statement in which he simply said Disney would continue to support the LGTBQ+ collective through its content, which generated more complaints inside and outside the company, and days later he apologized for the lack of a more blunt response and announced that all donations to politicians would be stopped until they reviewed the company’s donation system. Nor has it been enough.
Over the last few days, the company’s LGBTQ+ employees have made occasional stoppages to ask for stronger action to protect them and the entire community from discriminatory laws such as ‘Don’t Say Gay’. On Tuesday they made a general break as a great show of defiance, in addition to launching the website whereischapek.com in which they have started a collection of signatures and have published a manifesto with various demands. The most important is that they never finance politicians involved in the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law again. They also ask to stop investment in Florida while the law exists, absolute transparency with the financing of politiciansmake donations to organizations such as Trans Life or The Trevor Project to alleviate inaction at a time when the law could be avoided, allocate more funds to content that supports diversity and create a brand within the company focused on content creators LGTBQ+ as ‘The Onyx Collective’, which gives a voice to creatives of color.
Disney brands and stars support the protest
The protests have been supported by company directors, and employees of Disney-owned brands such as Hulu, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, Walt Disney Animation Studios or Lucasfilm. Virtually all Disney brands have condemned anti-LGBTIQ+ laws through their social networks. In the days before the break, shows of support have been seen, such as a minute of silence carried out by two ESPN journalists during the broadcast of a basketball game.
What a day so far! Thank you all so much for the resounding support. It means the world to us.
Lots still coming in, but a special shout out right now to Pixar for this amazing pic of solidarity.#DisneyDoBetter #DisneySayTrans #DisneySayGay #DisneyWalkout #WhereIsChapek pic.twitter.com/BzvjfVabPC
? DisneyWalkout (@DisneyWalkout) March 22, 2022
Time to watch The Last Jedi again, because this is a movement of leaders. Anyone can be powerful. No one owns the (labor) force besides ourselves.#DisneyDoBetter #DisneySayTrans#DisneySayGay #DisneyWalkout #WhereIsChapek pic.twitter.com/6yXYEmk3Xi
? DisneyWalkout (@DisneyWalkout) March 23, 2022
Several celebrities have also come out in support of the employees, such as Kerry Washington, who has shared collecting signatures, and Oscar Isaac, who in full promotion of ‘Moon Knight’ said: “I think my comment would be gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gayyyyyyyy. It’s an absolutely ridiculous law. It’s insane. And I hope Disney as a company opposes this idea in full force. It’s amazing that something like this can exist in this country. Mark Ruffalo, who on his day applauded Bob Chapek’s response, also declared on Twitter supporting the strike “our LGTBIQA+ family”.
On the other side, Republican politicians have criticized the protests, starting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who will soon sign the “Don’t Say Gay” proposition into law. He accused Disney of succumbing to “cancel culture” and remember that it should be up to the parents to choose if they want their children to be educated in sexual and gender diversity and not the teachers. But as Disney’s LGBTQ+ employees point out in their manifesto, such laws “demonizes” to a group that is still very vulnerable and companies with the power and influence of Disney cannot be anchored in the rhetoric of supporting “both sides” because it is a practice “dangerous and harmful because being LGTBIQA + is not a political opinion or a position, they are people, communities, families”. The Walt Disney Company and Bob Chapek have not commented after Tuesday’s protest. On Monday, Chapek mentioned in a virtual meeting with employees that he is aware of their anger and pain but made no further comment beyond announcing that he was postponing an executive meeting due to take place in Orlando this month, knowing that it is not the most appropriate time.