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Watch the moment Alan Menken acknowledges 'Beauty and the Beast's gay subplot
The news that Disney's Beauty and the Beast includes a subtle but explicitly gay moment has made waves around the world in recent weeks, with many praising the studio for its inclusive approach to family film-making, and others, including Malaysia, sending the movie straight to the censorship board.
The film's director Bill Condon first revealed in Attitude's April issue that the sexuality of Gaston's adoring side-kick LeFou, played by Josh Gad, features at the centre of a small but significant subplot that comes to an uplifting resolution by the film's end.
As we explain in our review of the eagerly-anticipated movie, which hits UK cinemas this Friday (17 March) the scene in question is brief but clear in its intention. However, the original film's composer, Alan Menken, recently appeared to downplay LeFou's sexuality in an interview in which he dismissed the character's feelings towards Gaston as nothing more than "nerdy" admiration.
"You know, I don’t see [LeFou] pining," Menken told ComicBook.com. "To me, he has always been look(ing) up to Gaston, in a nerdy kind of way."
He went on to directly mention the Attitude feature which broke the news to the world earlier this month.
"I know there’s been this whole discussion, which is to me, absolutely absurd. It’s just nuts. As far as I can tell, some journalist in England decided to make it his cause célèbre to push this agenda. And it’s really not really part of the movie in any overt way at all... any more than it was in the original."
He added: "To me, it’s an utter non-issue. And I’d appreciate people realising that it’s a non-issue because it’s just silly. But that’s journalism, and I understand."
That's OK Alan, we're not offended! Although the comments mark something of a departure to those he made in an interview with Attitude last month before the story broke.
In the interview, in which the two-time Oscar-winner also discusses the original film's queer appeal and the influence of the late composer Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS shortly before its release in 1991, Menken not only acknowledged the gay moment included in the remake's final edit, but described LeFou as "really in love" with Gaston, played by Luke Evans.
The two-time Oscar-winner also admits he wasn't sure whether the express acknowledgement of LeFou's sexuality would make the film's final cut, but that he "loves" that it did.
Read the full exchange below:
Attitude: In the new film you have LeFou as in love with Gaston. Do you think this in in keeping with Howard's original intentions?
Alan: Of course! Oh my god of course. Obviously it's code, but he's basically in thrall and really in love with Gaston. What's that lyric in 'Gaston'? 'Tell you which team he prefers to be on'.
Attitude: I'm not sure it's that coded anymore. You know, these things have been more in code before. It seems a lot more explicit now, and you've got this quite explicit gay moment at the end when he has the chance -
Alan: Yeah I know. Well that was Bill [Condon, the film's director] I was curious if it was going to last, and it lasted. I love that.
Attitude: So do you think Howard would have approved?
Alan: Oh I think he would have approved. It's interesting. Listen, Howard's been gone for a long time, and the attitudes have in fact evolved. There were times when an openness was uncomfortable, so god, how would Howard feel. That's gonna be a mystery. I presume he would be very supportive.