Disney CEO Bob Iger Discusses ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Backlash and Future of Inclusion

Chuck Mirarchi

Disney CEO Bob Iger Discusses ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Backlash and Future of Inclusion

Since returning as CEO of The Walt Disney Company last week, Bob Iger wasted no time in holding a town hall with Cast Members to discuss a wide range of topics including the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

During the in-person and virtual town hall meeting, one Cast Member asked Iger where he stood on the company’s stance on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Without hesitation, Iger said, “One of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, [and] acceptance, and tolerance.  And we can’t lose that, we just can’t lose that.”

“How we actually change the world through the good must continue,” he went on to say. “We’re not going to make everyone happy all the time, and we’re not going try to. We’re certainly not going to lessen our core values in order to make everyone happy all the time.”

This came as a welcome relief to many Cast Members. Some commented on social media that he responded with “no hesitation.”

Iger concluded his response by saying, “At one point I said ‘We do what we believe is right,’ and someone criticized me say ‘Well who are you to say what is right?’ Well, when you’re in a job like mine where you are responsible for the storytelling that many of you are … responsible for you get paid to have a sense [of] what is right. Not everyone will agree with you, that’s just not the way the world is these days, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to do the right thing.”

It was this very subject that tripped up former Disney CEO Bob Chapek. First, Chapek responded by simply saying that Disney should not be involved in politics. After a backlash from Cast Members and other groups and individuals, he then apologized for the way he initially responded and did an about-face on the topic. That then caused an avalanche of criticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Republicans.

What do you think about Bob Iger’s town hall? Let us know in the comments below.

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Author

  • Chuck Mirarchi

    Just like many Disney fans, Chuck has been passionate about anything Disney ever since he was a child. He and his family's first trip to a Disney Park were in 1972 when they went to Walt Disney World. Chuck particularly loves anything that has to do with the history of The Walt Disney Company.

9 thoughts on “Disney CEO Bob Iger Discusses ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Backlash and Future of Inclusion”

  1. I didn’t read/hear his comments, except what you posted. If he wanted to truly be a bridge, he could have add to his inclusiveness comments that Disney also believes it is the right and responsibility of parents to be informed about their children and what they are taught.

    The “Don’t Say Gay” moniker for this legislation is a falsehood meant to engender feelings to one side of the discussion. Instead, the legislation was an amendment to parental rights law to include the right of a parent to know what their children are learning in the classroom. If Iger mentioned this, it would go a long way in helping with the side that feels abandoned by Disney’s overt shift to one side of the argument.

    He should also have added that we (Disney staff) can help shape the culture of the future through our storytelling and don’t need to be in the political arena.

    In summary, he should have given these three points:

    1) Disney is all about inclusivity (his current comments you quoted).

    2) Disney also supports parents, and believes in their right and responsibility to be the main arbiter for their children’s growth. Thus, they need to know what their children are being taught.

    3) Disney’s strength is (and always has been) shaping the cultural landscape through storytelling, and it is your (Disney employees) responsibility to wield this tool and leave overt politics and affirmation stances to someone else (i.e. judge Disney by our contributions and not some baseless words).

    • Note, I don’t work for Disney; I’m just a fan. Any statement of “we” or “us” is what Iger may have said, since he was addressing cast members.

    • Chris, that absolutely is not true. Why do you people constantly lie? One of the major problems with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that people like you REFUSE to acknowledge was that it was incomplete. It did not define what it considered to be questionable and instead left it to be decided at a later date. You wanted people to sign a blank check to be filled out later. It was never about “parental rights.” Tell me, why is it that you continue refusing to acknowledge this?

    • “I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is. Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t think they are.” – Bob Iger

  2. It’s not like anyone at Disney is telling you how to live your life. Storytelling means telling all possibilities, opening your eyes to all choices. You make your own choice, and in the end your choices will matter.

  3. Bob, please focus on the traditional products, services and artistic focus points that will please the paying customers and fans of Disney. Social politics makes $0.

    • As a paying Disney fan, a focus on human rights pleases me. Parents already had rights. The amended legislation adds nothing meaningful to those rights, but its vague wording does exacerbate the rights of a significant contingent of paying Disney fans and Cast Members. A focus on human rights – what you call “social politics” – doesn’t need to be profit-driven, so the “go woke, go broke” argument is irrelevant. Iger has the right attitude on this one.

  4. If you want to be gay, be gay. That’s fine. However, it just simply isn’t a subject that should be at the heart of Disney storytelling going forward. Parents need to parent their kids on all important topics. When they are older they can make up their own mind. Families will not continue to support Disney if they don’t get back to the roots of the company that made it great in the first place. Two recent cases proves my point: Lightyear bombed at the box office. Many people will give BS reasons why, but we all know why. It featured a same sex couple and families turned away from that message to their kids. Recently, Strange World released and was the biggest bomb in Disney’s theatrical history. Why? Because it featured a gay teen romance storyline. Now, I’m fine with all of these storylines in other movies…but targeting children with this messaging outside of the parental unit included in that storytelling….no.

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