Lightyear star Keke Palmer has applauded the animated film’s LGBTQ+ representation for “depicting life and love the way that exists” in the world.
The actor voices Izzy Hawthorne, who becomes a close ally of accomplished Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans), in the Toy Story spin-off. Izzy is the granddaughter of Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), and the film features a same-sex kiss between Alisha and her wife.
Palmer told the i that she thought the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and Black characters is “progress” as it signals that films are becoming more representative of the audiences that love them.
“Disney, Pixar, there’s a wide audience, and a lot of their audience is obviously LGBTQ+, women, Black women… people that want to be represented in films,” she said. “So, yes, 100 per cent, I think it is progress.”
Palmer continued: “Obviously, we can’t expect for film and television to always be the reason why people decide to respect one another.
“But I think it’s a step in the right direction. And I think the way that it’s illustrated in the film is normal… we’re just depicting life and love the way that exists in our world.”
Lightyear has been banned in 14 countries – including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon – for including a same-sex kiss in the animated film.
Disney previously cut the kiss scene but reinstated it following searing backlash over the entertainment giant’s stance on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. It also came after LGBTQ+ Pixar staff claimed in a blistering letter that Disney censored “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” from their films.
Keke Palmer told Newsweek that she thought young kids will love the LGBTQ+ relationship in Lightyear, saying it “just continues to normalise what’s always been there”.
“And it just shows the representation of what our world has always looked like,” Palmer said.
“If you imagine that this is the movie that Andy saw [in 1995’s Toy Story], then it’s like these people were always a part of the story, and so it’s good to make sure that that’s represented in film and in art.”
She added that she loved the representation because it’s what the “world has always looked like”. Palmer added there have always been women, especially women of colour, in “these places, in these spaces”, but she said they didn’t “necessarily get the recognition or the credit that they deserve”.
Lightyear director Angus MacLane told Yahoo that said everyone involved in the film is “really proud” of Alisha Hawthorne being part of the LGBTQ+ community. But MacLane said they were careful to make sure Alisha’s queer identity was “something substantial and not a window dressing aspect of the character”.
Evans added that people who don’t like Lightyear’s LGBTQ+ representation are “idiots”, and he said they will eventually “die off like dinosaurs” to usher in a new age of inclusion.
“Every time there’s been social advancement as we wake up, the American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” Evans said.
He added that the “goal” is to pay “no mind” to individuals who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, the actor said people should continue to “march forward” and “embrace the growth that makes us human”.
Lightyear is out in cinemas now.