“If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remake isn’t being featured in an Alabama theater. Why? Because for the first time in a Disney movie, the film will feature an openly out gay character. In North East Alabama, the Henagar Drive-In Theater announced (via their now inaccessible Facebook page) that they wouldn’t show the picture due to the openly gay character. The theater’s official announcement in Facebook included their reasoning. And to be blunt — it’s religious.
Included in the statement, “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it”. As seemingly ludicrous as it seems that God or Jesus would reject a movie because of a gay character, the statement went even further to declare, “We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.” This seems a good place to mention that in recent years, some church denominations have taken a look at the ‘issue’ of same-sex marriage and allowed their clergy to perform same-sex marriages because (and this is the important part) they ultimately concluded that there are no real Biblical or spiritual reasons to prohibit it. The owner of the drive-in theater, Carol Laney explained the decision, claiming, “This by no means is sending a message of hatred or bigotry. However, we are Christians first and foremost and must admit to our Bible and Christianity”. Christianity, the same religion that’s based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, who spread the message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Apparently, for Laney and the theater, that doesn’t apply if that neighbor is a gay character in a children’s movie. But Laney claims the decision was long thought out and was ultimately decided based upon faith.
Her mission with the drive in theater was to show movies that “all families can watch”, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast didn’t fall under that category. In fact, the Facebook statement’s claim that “When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand”, really makes it seem like the refusal is a boycott on behalf of the theater. But most people don’t see Disney’s feature of a Gay character as a negative, or a tactic to ‘force their views on us’. It’s just a fact that in the U.S. alone, “approximately one in 100 American women and two in 100 American men identify as homosexual, with another four percent of Americans identifying as bisexual”. Yes, homosexuality is still a controversial topic in the United States, but facts and statistics of U.S. homosexuality, as well as polls and surveys regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage and moral acceptability, show a very obvious trend towards acceptance and tolerance of the LGBT community among the American population. So, It’s not Disney who’s forcing views, it’s people and places, like this theater, who are neglecting identities. Religious beliefs or not, the Henagar Drive-In is on the wrong side of history.
And finally, the report included, “We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language”. As far as this particular line is concerned, and at least to the theater in Alabama, being gay falls under film restrictions. As baffling as it sounds, the claim is that homosexuality falls into line with sex, nudity, and foul language. When homosexuality is identified as a ‘practice’ or a ‘belief’, it’s misinterpreted and perceived as a conscious decision-making process that’s going on, when really, it’s a person’s love, life, and being. When being gay is finally perceived as what it is, an identity, that’s normal and natural, we can start accepting each other by our actions and not our orientations.