EDITORIAL: Pixar’s “Onward” to Feature Disney’s First Out LGBTQ+ Animated Character

Shannen Ace

onward officer specter

EDITORIAL: Pixar’s “Onward” to Feature Disney’s First Out LGBTQ+ Animated Character

Shannen Ace

onward officer specter

EDITORIAL: Pixar’s “Onward” to Feature Disney’s First Out LGBTQ+ Animated Character

In the past few years, Disney has been making attempts at LGBTQ+ representation, with LeFou being gay in the live-action Beauty and the Beast and two women kissing briefly in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now for the first time, an animated character in a Disney film will be an out and proud lesbian.

The character is Officer Specter in Pixar’s Onward. Specter is voiced by Lena Waithe, an out lesbian herself. Onward producer Kori Rae told Yahoo, “It just kind of happened. The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted.” Director Dan Scanlon said, “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.”

If you don’t care about spoilers, read on to learn more about the film and Specter’s role.

onward officers poster

Onward takes place in a modern fantasy world and stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as elven brothers Ian and Barley. On Ian’s 16th birthday, their mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives them a magical staff that’s supposed to bring their father back to life. Unfortunately, the spell goes wrong, sending the brothers on a quest to bring their dad back for good before time runs out. Their mother and her new boyfriend, Officer Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez), chase after the boys to save them from a curse.

Specter appears in one scene of the film as a cop who catches up to the boys. She and her partner, Officer Gore (Ali Wong), pull them over, but Ian manages to cast a last-minute spell to disguise him and Barley as Officer Bronco. “Bronco” complains about his girlfriend’s kids and Specter sympathizes. She says, “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.” She tells “Bronco” that the best thing they can do is try to be there for the kids, which helps Ian and Barley realize Bronco’s struggle. The magic starts to wear off so the boys make their escape, but not before Specter realizes something’s wrong and alerts the real Officer Bronco.

The inclusion of minor LGBTQ+ characters is a step forward for Disney, but many people are still hoping for a queer protagonist. Disney has faced criticism for how they have included gay characters, with LeFou being an antagonist crushing on the villain, and the kiss in Rise of Skywalker being blink-and-you miss it. Officer Specter being a good guy who verbally acknowledges her gay relationship is an improvement, and it’s great that she’s played by a lesbian woman of color. Hopefully, Disney will realize that these characters deserve leading roles and develop larger storylines for them. Until then, we can’t wait to hear what we’re sure will be an excellent performance from Lena Waithe.

You can see Officer Specter in Onward on March 6th.

23 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Pixar’s “Onward” to Feature Disney’s First Out LGBTQ+ Animated Character”

  1. Is this really LGBT though? When women refer to girlfriends, 9 times out of 10, it’s just that, a friend of the same gender. Women don’t use girlfriend in the same vein as men do. I didn’t get anything from the snippet of dialogue that meant to imply someone’s sexuality and this is just a case of “Oh, the actor’s gay so that means the character has to be gay too!”, which is actually a little bit offensive.

    • You’re completely ridiculous. When was the last time a woman complained about her friend’s daughter making her want to pull her hair out? Stop being a misogynist for ten seconds and realize that most women don’t use the term “girlfriend” to refer to female friends anywhere near as frequently as you think they do, and that this woman is a lesbian in a partnership raising a child. Your male gaze isn’t needed here.

  2. look I get it there are many different people out there but Disney movies are no place for this. All it does is piss of parents who have kids who don’t understand and puts thoughts that don’t need to be in their heads that would have never been there. Its going to piss people of and just more negative is going to come from it. Not the place. Stop trying to force it just makes it worse. I’m still angary about the Red Head taken out of Pirates! At first I thought that Disney owning just about everything was going to be great but putting things in programs for kids or young teens just put weird things in their heads. There are so many parents who don’t monitor or have discussions and these things are not helping. The other things that is happening is kids hear adults talk and are not happy about it and then their kids say or do things and carry those thoughts and really don’t know what they are saying or doing. It is not making the majority of families who are paying not happy. Just stop pushing in Disney movies or programs. Enough is enough!

    • Actually, the vast majority of the population of the United States has no problem with the LGBTQ community. Perhaps it should occur to you that every single Disney movie up until now has “pushed” the heteronormative concept of love and sex. There have always been straight couples kissing and veiled references to a sexual relationship. How is that any different? Acknowledging that gay people exist, love, and have families is not “forcing” anything. It’s being realistic and acknowledging that times have changed and narrow-minded people like you aren’t the only ones with voices anymore. Keep in mind there was a time when people of color were not shown on screen and when it first happened there was an uproar and people said it was ridiculous/damaging/not normal/offensive . Want to go back to that time, too?

      • not the time or place for kids to see things like that. Who is buying the =
        Disney product. No mother or father who doesn’t want to mess up the kid is =
        going to put this product around their children. It is not the norm and not=
        the place for children. There is enough out there at the right time in a k=
        ids life to fine out about other ways. I think you are way wrong in think v=
        ast majority has no problem with it. If it wasnt a problem we wouldn’t be t=
        alking about it. Not the platform for this.

  3. Absolutely shameful and disgraceful. Disney’s pandering to the woke crowd is an affront on God. Walt is turning in his grave. All except his head, which is spinning in a freezer. Keep your lifestyle to yourself. It is not normal and never will be.

    • Maybe now is the time for you to wrap your head around the reality that not everyone has the same concept of God as you do, or a concept of God at all. Your religion is far more a “lifestyle” than sexuality is. Get over yourself and realize your narrow-minded perspective is the minority and you don’t speak for everyone.

      • Who is casting judgement now. You have your veiws and the majority of the world has theirs. You have to wrap your head around the real reality. Not the time or place. You probably were taking a knee during the national anthem too.

  4. Please, WDWNT, stay out of political & moral matters! That’s why I quit Inside the Magic and rely on your site now for Disney news. You don’t want me to have to quit you, too, do you? Just report the news and save the editorials for a real news site, not a Disney fan site. People go to the Disney theme parks & watch Disney movies to forget the “real world” of politics and pushing lifestyle agendas, except maybe for Hall of Presidents, but that attraction doesn’t even take sides. Everything’s getting politicized and people want websites where they can go to escape political pandering, so please, don’t make these editorials a trend!

  5. So, reading the comments, it appears there’s two camps: 1) “I’m glad to see the progress in acknowledging LGBTQ”, and 2) “This is a moral mistake for Disney to be venturing into these grounds.” I would encourage both sides not to be so entrenched in their views. Those who feel it is immoral, or against God, should also explore the theology of rejecting people not for who they are, but for a trait that they may not control. But those who proudly denounce the others as “narrow minded” should realize that they’re not listening to the concerns of others, and that name-calling just alienates people further. There is a middle ground where both sides can come to share and empathize with the other’s views.

    • Oh, no, calling people out on their bigotry is the exact same level of cruel as people literally being killed in the streets because they’re gay!

  6. I’m sorry to say I’m not surprised to see this kind of debate raging under this type of article. I don’t understand the concern, however. For those who say a Disney movie is not the place for this, I’d like to offer some perspective.

    Would you let your kids watch a movie that glorifies piracy? What’s to stop them from wanting to become pirates themselves once Disney puts the idea in their heads that pirates like Jack Sparrow are cool? Many of Disney’s animated films feature characters who commit murder. Should there be equal concern about young, impressionable viewers possibly identifying with the villains instead of the heroes? The argument from some corners seems to suggest that, just by including a certain type of character in a movie, it’s automatically possible for a child to have certain types of ideas planted in their minds as a result of seeing that character. Are we prepared to acknowledge these other possibilities as well, or are we going to cherrypick only specific characters – in this case, an LGBTQ one? Personally, I’d like to believe that acts of piracy are an affront to God, but maybe that’s just me.

    Also, if you think the inclusion of a gay character in a Disney movie can influence a child’s future lifestyle choices, then what you’re essentially saying is that watching Disney movies as a child is also what made you straight. If you believe you were born the way you are, and that movies had no influence over your own choices, then why not trust children to navigate the world as they see fit, based on their own experiences, and just let nature take its course?

Comments are closed.