Pixar’s “Onward” Banned Abroad for Referencing Lesbian Parents

A single line of queer-inclusive dialogue was too much for censors in several Middle Eastern countries.

One Million Moms aren’t the only homophobes enraged by queer characters making a brief cameo in Disney Pixar’s Onward.

As of this week, several Middle Eastern countries have banned the animated fantasy film from showing in theaters, Deadline reports. Censors in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have all taken the nuclear option in response to a passing reference to lesbian parents—one of whom is Officer Specter, a queer cyclops cop voiced by out Hollywood mogul Lena Waithe.

Pixar/Karwai Tang/Getty Images

The reference in question occurs when Specter and her partner on the force pull over a distracted driver and Specter sympathizes. “It’s not easy being a new parent,” she says. “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.”

The groundbreaking moment is so brief, it’s easy to miss—and as Slate notes, that’s exactly why it works so well. In the world of Onward, queer couples are just a fact of life, not a spectacle.

At the premiere of Twenties, her semi-autobiographical BET dramedy, Waithe told Variety that the clever, boundary-pushing line was actually her idea.

Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET

“It was written as a straight [character],” the busiest lesbian in Hollywood told the magazine. “I said, ’Can I say the word girlfriend, is that cool?’… They were like, ’Oh yeah, do that.’ They were so cool and chill.”

In lieu of banning the Pixar movie outright, censors in other nations have opted to alter the dialogue. In Russia, the word girlfriend in Waithe’s voiceover was switched to the gender-neutral partner.

Onward raked in some $40 million at the box office in the U.S. its opening weekend, according to Deadline. We’re hoping it’s all onward and upward from here.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella