This week, on Twitter, an image popped up that caught my attention. It was a set of Mickey Mouse ears from Disney except, in place of the classic black headcap and ears, they had a red base, rainbow ears and a rainbow heart on the front.
It was a retweet of a Huffington Post article, headlined: Disney Unveils Rainbow Mickey Mouse Ears Just In Time For Pride.
Gay Mickey? Surely not!
Come to think of it, I always did suspect dear Minnie was a bit of a ‘beard’ for Mr Mouse. That whole relationship seemed far too much like a lavender relationship at times, and I’m sure I’ve seen Mickey gazing longingly at Donald on occasion (Duck, not Trump). All that temper Donald holds onto… it’s all a bit American Beauty, isn’t it?
Joking aside though, as someone who celebrated 20 years with her same-sex partner this week (I’m still getting used to saying ‘wife’, even though we tied the knot as quickly as we could when it became legal in the UK, back in 2014), I was delighted to see the new addition to Disney’s diverse product range.
It’s not billed as a ‘gay’ hat and, thus far, it seems you can only pick one up in the parks themselves.
The Huff Post article carried a comment from a Disney spokesperson, who managed to acknowledge the new ears without mentioning anything even vaguely homo-specific: “We offer a wide range of merchandise items that appeal to guests of diverse backgrounds.”
Gotta say, as someone whose work includes coaching business people on personal brand and visibility, Disney appears to be pulling a blinder…
They’ve managed to produce apparel, on the cusp of pride season, that’s obviously gay-friendly, but not overtly queer, and they’ve done it all without even mentioning the ‘G-word’.
It’s another (rainbow) flag towards an air of equality and acceptance from a giant brand which, though largely heralded as gay-friendly, has never officially sanctioned the renowned Disney ‘Gay Days’. Disney’s large LGBTQ++ (honestly – even I’m getting a bit confused by the ever increasing acronym now!) means there’ve been countless same-sex wedding proposals at the parks as well as actual ceremonies.
You might find yourself feeling confused about the apparent dichotomy here. Disney does tend to promote the ‘traditional’ family unit in most of its advertising, so what on earth are they doing supporting same sex nuptials on their parks? Well, here’s a thought: what if they’ve just moved with the times and accepted that families in the modern world come in all shapes, sizes and colours? Which takes us nicely back to that rainbow…
You might not know that Disney has been honoured with awards for its diversity. You can find a blog about it on Disney’s website here (https://www.thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-recognized-innovation-workplace-equality/) – it even mentions Disney’s partnership with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, as well as the LGBT Equality Institude at Walt Disney World Resort.
In fact, Disney’s own website states: “The Walt Disney Company and its businesses have led the way in advancing LGBT equality in the workplace and marketplace. From providing benefits for same-sex partners, to supporting community organizations and working to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT employees, the Company has a long-standing and ongoing commitment to equality.”
What do I read from this? Disney’s absolutely leading the way in spearheading equality, whilst being brilliantly sharp with its marketing and merchandising. They’re shining a light on equal rights, diversity and love in all its beautiful forms between consenting adults, without outwardly pushing an ‘agenda’ that could end up alienating some of its fans with less-than-accepting opinions.
Good on ya, Disney! I’m not going to start jumping up and down and demanding you brand your rainbow goodies as ‘gay friendly’, because you don’t need to. In fact, I long for the day where equality and public opinion has come so far that we don’t need to use the word ‘gay’ as a precursor at all… just ‘friendly’ will be fine for me.
Until next time,
PS: If anyone’s near Disney and fancies sending me one of those hats, I’d really appreciate it! 😀