|Fandom:||Beauty and the Beast (Disney)|
|Canonical?:||no (animated); one-sided (live action)|
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Gaston/LeFou is a ship from the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast.
The ship always had a minor presence in Disney slash communities due to LeFou's admiration of Gaston in the 1991 film. In 2015, an article was published on Buzzfeed called "Gaston And LeFou Were Probably Fucking". The article used gifs from the movie to present a narrative in which Gaston was closeted and in a relationship with his sidekick LeFou.
In an interview with Attitude, a queer-focused UK magazine, published March 1, 2017 director Bill Condon revealed that LeFou would be portrayed as gay in the upcoming live-action film.
Played by US actor Josh Gad, the character of LeFou serves as the sidekick to the film's primary antagonist Gaston (Luke Evans), and is set to feature in a small but significant subplot of his own when it comes to his sexuality.Director Bill Condon, published in Attitude magazine.
"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston," reveals Condon."He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
The phrasing "exclusively gay moment" was mocked extensively across the internet as other press seized on the announcement and ran headlines trumpeting the arrival of Disney's first openly gay character. Some fans were angry at the perceived erasure of characters like a shopkeeper from Frozen, while others were angry at the fact that LeFou is a minor villainous character portrayed as an incompetent buffoon in the original cartoon. Much of the coverage treated the news as an officially sanctioned press release, but people involved in the film generally insisted the LeFou content was something very minor, and, while decrying homophobic backlash, expressed surprise at the surrounding media frenzy.
“People who don’t like the idea of gay characters appearing in fairy stories should think what they would think if they were gay themselves and why should they be excluded?” McKellen told CNN at the film’s New York premiere Monday.Ian McKellan, published by CNN.
Actor Josh Gad’s character in the film, LeFou, briefly dances with another male character at the end of the movie. The moment prompted Russia to restrict children under 16 from seeing “Beauty and the Beast” and one drive-in-theater in Alabama not to screen it.
But McKellen, who plays Cogsworth in the movie, said the scene is not “revolutionary.”“For people to complain about it and say they don’t want children to see it is absolute rubbish,” McKellen said. “I know people who don’t like gay people and make a fuss. It’s a very small moment in the movie, no one should get too excited.”
It was pointed out by some that Condon himself is an openly gay man and that much of the response treating his phrasing in the interview as inherently "straight" was misguided and ill-informed.
Gaston/LeFou attracted some fan content along with the critical disapproval, but there was also controversy over the nature of the ship being one-sided admiration towards a heterosexual man who is often cited as the embodiment of misogyny and privilege. Some opted to ship LeFou with Stanley, another character who is shown enjoying himself after being dressed up in women's clothes, and with whom LeFou is briefly shown dancing at the end of the movie. GaFou faced criticism from some StanFou fans for glorifying abusive relationships.
Internationally, the live-action movie became the tenth highest-grossing film of all time. Fandom widely regarded it as inferior to the animated film, but critical response was mildly positive. Authorities in Russia, Malayasia and Kuwait banned the movie or required its rating to be raised due to a very short scene at the end of the film where LeFou finds himself dancing with another man. Disney refused to cut the brief scene at the request of Malaysia's Film Censorship Board, and the board ultimately decided to let the film air intact with a P13 rating due to the scene being so minor.
StanFou ultimately pulled ahead on AO3, partly due to controversy over GaFou and partly because Gaston dies at the end of the movie. Fandom controversy faded with time along with the film itself, although "Gay LeFou" is still invoked to represent corporatized attempts at LGBT representation. One example is in Thomas Sanders' song A Gay Disney Prince:
Yeah, that's a bit screwy
Makes me say LeFouey''