Disney LGBTQ Employees Stage Walkouts

Walt Disney World Castle. Courtesy of Disney.

LGBTQ employees of The Walt Disney Company are staging walkouts in response to recent actions by Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

The first of several mini-walkouts during breaks start on March 14. They will all be leading up to a full-stage Disney LGBTQ employee walkout from 8 AM-6 PM on Tuesday, March 22. If you wish to show solidarity, do not watch any feature films or anything on a Disney-owned TV network or streaming service during these times. This means no Disney+, Hulu, ABC, FX Freeform, ESPN, etc. To my fellow press colleagues, it means not running any coverage of any press releases or interviews coming from the company. It also means not watching any press screeners on Disney Debut for feature and review consideration. Losing traffic might hurt in the short-term but it’s important to be speaking out and showing solidarity!

The walkout is being organized by LGBTQ employees of Disney Corporate, Disney Television Animation, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, Disney Streaming, Enterprise Finance, Enterprise Technology/Global Information Security, and Bento Box. I assume that this also includes 20th Century Studios or Marvel but cannot say for certain. Their open letter listing demands can be found here and you can find the full walkout schedule here. The petition is here.

What’s going on now is no different than what the Netflix transgender employees and allies did in October, Platforming a transphobic comedian is no different than donating to anti-LGBTQ politicians. Both are a form of hatred. Yes, there is free speech but when said speech crosses a line into hatred, there need to be consequences. This is the problem that comes with platforming the likes of Dave Chappelle. Transphobic comedy harms transgender people because it only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes. I can go on and on but I said what I said back in October.

What’s going on now with Disney is no different. Sadly, some people do not get this. Hate is hate is hate!. To be fair, what’s happening in Florida and elsewhere is more dangerous towards the LGBTQ community and especially the youth. We need to be protecting LGBTQ kids. Transgender youth alone have become one of the biggest targets of all. Look at what’s going on in Texas. Hell, Idaho is seeking to make it a felony for gender-affirming doctors to provide medical care! Don’t even think about crossing state lines for such care because that’s also a felony, too!

In the past few days, a lot has been happening. For one, Chapek and the company responded to the backlash. Unfortunately, the response came following HRC rejecting the donation and GLAAD announcing new criteria for the Studio Responsibility Index. The company needs to be doing better. Is their response good enough in the short-term? We’ll have to wait and see. More importantly, whatever they do needs to be in the public eye and not during meetings where we do not hear a thing.

I am one of a handful of transgender film/TV critics and it is my responsibility to speak out against hate. It’s why I’m not attending SXSW this year. But as a transgender person, the burden shouldn’t just be on myself to speak out. The allies need to be doing their job and speak out against the hatred.

Disney, please do better. You owe it not only to your employees but to everyone who is a target of anti-LGBTQ hate. Human rights are not a political issue!

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.