In what can only be seen as a case of very unfortunate timing, Walt Disney Co. has just started marketing and promoting its new Pride Collection of merchandise: fun clothing, toys, mouse ears, and other souvenirs that celebrate having sex with your own gender, if you happen to know what it is.
Disney toys and wearables also have a long-standing and unbreakable association with … children.
A controversy that has deeply affected even Disney’s relationship with the state of Florida began early in 2022, when Chief Executive Bob Chapek voiced opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. Chapek had originally tried to keep Disney out of the perilous gay-rights arena, but gay employees of the company marched in California and forced him to take a corporate stand.
The effect on Disney has been disastrous. Florida, which recently created a new law to muzzle homosexual school employees who try to groom young children, has taken away Disney’s special tax status in the state and the company has lost billions in value.
Disney has courted homosexual patrons for years, selling rainbow-pattern souvenirs and letting annual “Gay Days” be organized at its theme parks. The company began to sell rainbow-themed merchandise in 2018.
As for the new merchandise, reported the Los Angeles Times, profits from its sales will be donated to select LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations through the end of June, the company said.
Disney merchandise takes months to design, produce and ship, a spokesman said, suggesting that the new gay merch was on the way long before Disney got into hot water with Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
Disney brass cannot be greeting the Pride Collection rollout with unbridled enthusiasm, and it could well rub salt in Disney’s recent wounds. They referred to a blog post published May 16 by Lisa Becket, senior vice president for global marketing who describes herself as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In a post called “Share Your Pride,” Becket said she is proud to work for a “company that supports inclusion as a core value and provides a welcoming environment which allows me to bring my true authentic self to work.”