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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Letter of the Day

‘There’s no struggle greater than that for equality’

I’ve just finished reading Douglas MacKinnon’s column “Disney’s gay agenda is disturbing” (Metro, Aug. 12). I’m left a bit numb. Really, what I find disturbing is his opinion, set amidst the greatest Civil Rights Movement since the 1960s.

He begins on a note that I, as a gay 29-year-old male, can agree with: “For the majority of people, everyday life can be a struggle, and the magic of Disney makes those struggles more bearable.” He references Disney’s “shows and movies (giving him) a much-needed escape when (he) was a child growing up in poverty.” This, too, I can agree with.

In Section 8 housing, my mother and I struggled and depended on food stamps (pre-EBT card) to survive. But I was happy; she never let me know how terribly off we actually were. I always had Disney, from the films to the free weekends of the Disney Channel (pre-inclusion in typical cable lineups.) I had Ariel, the Little Mermaid, someone who desperately clamored to be a part of another world. She was different, and yearned for more, like I did. I was gay, even if I hadn’t found the words to describe it yet, and I was poor. I knew I wasn’t like a lot of the other children at school. I wanted more.

To his point, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” set sail in 1989, after Disney apparently began “advancing a left-leaning agenda.” So perhaps the connection I felt, as a young boy, was because Disney had already begun to lack Walt Disney’s “wholesome entertainment,” such as 1946’s “Song of the South,” which depicted former African-American slaves and has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States. (Wonder why?)

Or maybe 1941’s “Dumbo,” produced by Walt Disney himself, which opens with faceless African-Americans setting up the circus. They have no eyes, no mouths, no noses and gleefully sing, “We work all day, we work all night, we never learned to read or write. We work all night, we work all day; and we can’t wait to spend our pay away.” And don’t get me started on the crows. MacKinnon himself cites that “The Disney Co. does much good and brightens the lives of millions around the world, especially children.” This is true. Times change. People wise up. There’s no struggle greater than that for equality.

So yes, it can be argued that “Disney has been working overtime to redefine ‘family values.’” But perhaps that’s a good thing. Just ask anyone who isn’t a white, heterosexual male.

Ryan Jent

St. Petersburg

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