Jack Whitehall will play Disney’s first openly gay character in the upcoming movie, Jungle Cruise, and fans have mixed feelings about the casting.
Though Disney has stirred up rumors of gay characters like Josh Gad’s LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, the entertainment giant has reportedly never featured an openly gay character in any of their films. However, they plan to change that in the upcoming movie Jungle Cruise, casting actor Jack Whitehall to play an openly gay man.
We don’t know the character’s name yet, the Huffington Post UK reports that Whitehall is set to play a “very camp” gay man. And while it’s great to see that Disney is finally beginning to openly welcome LGBTQ+ characters into their films, fans are a bit disappointed that Whitehall, a straight man, is the one selected to play an openly gay character that appears to play very firmly within the bounds of harmful stereotypes against gay men.
Disney and Whitehall haven’t responded to the criticism yet, but the internet is already alight with opinions. While some hold firmly to the stance that actors should be allowed to play characters who are different than themselves, many have pointed out that the problem isn’t with Whitehall portraying a character. Instead, the problem lies with gay men constantly being overlooked for roles, and when a role meant for a gay person comes around — albeit one that seems to play to harmful stereotypes–it goes to a straight man.
With all of the controversy surrounding the casting, a statement from Disney and Whitehall is bound to surface soon. It’s long overdue for Disney movies to feature an openly gay character, but it’s unfortunate to think that this big step forward will take two steps back due to poor representation.
Jungle Cruise is based on the Disneyland ride, and also stars Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. There still aren’t a ton of details available surrounding the film, but hopefully, Disney will shed some more light on the film and Whitehall’s character very soon.