While the fact that an Alabama movie theater cancelled screenings of Beauty and the Beast for having a gay character is absolutely unacceptable and disgusting, there may be at least one silver lining to come out of this. The theater's statement has provided customers with the chance to see exactly how close-minded the businesses they support can be, thus giving them the option to take their support elsewhere, if they're so inclined. By cancelling the screenings, the theater has essentially revealed its true colors, letting patrons see that its feelings towards the LGBTQ community are so negative, it decided to ban a film over the potrayal of a gay character.
The theater in question here is the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in DeKalb County, Alabama, which canceled all of its screenings of Beauty and the Beast when it caught wind of the fact that the rebooted classic will include a slight update to the script — Disney's first openly gay character. Josh Gad's LeFou, sidekick to Gaston, will be gay, which will partially explain the former's infatuation with the latter. And not that Disney needed another reason to add a gay character, since the real world is literally full of queer people and it's wonderful, but Variety reported that LeFou's sexual orientation is also a nod to the late Howard Ashman, lyricist for the 1991 original.
The Henagar Drive-In Theatre, which recently changed ownership, published a statement to their Facebook on Thursday explaining that the previous owners booked Beauty in the Beast, and that the new ones refuse to show it. Here's an excerpt:
Wanna hear something crazy? I actually agree. When companies force their views on us, we have to "take a stand." Now, customers can apply that same logic to their choice of where to watch movies. If their views are not in line with those of the theater, they too can "take a stand."
The statement continued,
Here's the thing: Beauty and the Beast is still very much a wholesome, family-oriented film, because the inclusion of a gay character has nothing to do with, and certainly does not take away from, either of those traits. Personally, I'm so proud to live in a world where Disney is using their platform to teach inclusivity and understanding. (Bustle reached out to Disney for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.)
Ultimately, if one drive-in theater in Alabama doesn't want to be a part of that message of positivity, that's their decision. I guess I am just glad that they've chosen to make the reason for that decision openly, so that their patrons can decide whether they'd like to continue seeing movies there or take their business elsewhere.