A lesbian character is coming to Disney for the very first time, played by none other than Lena Waithe. Waithe will play Officer Specter, a lesbian cyclops cop, in the upcoming Pixar fantasy movie “Onward.” Specter is not only the first Disney lesbian, but also the first openly self-identifying LGBTQ+ character in any Disney animated film.
Don’t too excited about seeing lesbian antics on the Disney screen, though. Specter’s sexuality is only revealed in one scene, in which she casually mentions having a girlfriend. “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out,” the female cop sympathetically tells a driver she pulls over who’s stressed by his own girlfriend’s sons.
“It just kind of happened,” producer Kori Rae told Yahoo. “The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted.”
Director Dan Scanlon added, “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.”
Specter’s girlfriend never actually appears in the movie, and Specter herself is barely visible in promotional material or trailers. In that vein, this nod to queer representation may wind up with a lukewarm reception from the LGBTQ+ community, as have previous blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in Disney films, including the lesbian kiss in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” There were also two seemingly-lesbian couples in the background in “Toy Story 4” and “Finding Dory,” but Disney never confirmed their LGBTQ+ status.
Unlike those potential predecessors, Waithe’s character in “Onward” reportedly plays a small but important role in the movie. She’s neither silent nor in the background — so in a way, this is progress. Moreover, a spinoff movie featuring Specter could be on the table for the future. “I want to make a whole new movie about Officer Specter, we already have the material. [Waithe] basically wrote it all and gave us a backstory,” Rae said.
“Onward” also stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, and Mel Rodriguez. It opens in theaters on March 6.