The Walt Disney Company is rebranding its queer-centered merchandise as the Disney Pride Collection.
The collection, previously referred to as the Rainbow collection, was first launched in 2018 but until now had not used Pride-specific language. One hundred percent of profits from sales until June 30 — including Star Wars- and Marvel-themed clothing, toys, dog leashes and other accessories in the collection — will be donated to organizations that support LGBTQ youth and families.
"Everybody is different in terms of what they want to wear and how they want to express themselves," a spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company tells Yahoo Life of the collection. "We want our guests to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in stories and experiences, in products, and anything they're encountering in their interactions with Disney. We want our cast members and our future cast members to feel that sense of belonging as well. That's really, really important."
The move to rebrand the Disney Pride collection has been seen by many as a visible shift in the company's public support for the LGBTQ community. Although for 16 years in a row the company has received a 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which measures national policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality, it’s received a fair level of criticism from LGBTQ employees — and the public — in recent weeks. Earlier this year, Disney and, in particular, its CEO Bob Chapek, was criticized for not taking a stance against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill), which prohibits educators to speak on LGBTQ issues in grades K-3.
"Inclusion is such an essential piece to our culture," a Disney rep explains to Yahoo Life. "That is what is going to lead us forward, especially as we continue engaging storytelling, continuing with the exceptional service and 'Disney magic' of it all. We'll never stop working on that."
They continue: "Disney, whether it's in our parks or when you're experiencing the products in your living room, should be welcoming. Disney should be welcoming for all."
Lisa Becket, senior vice president of global marketing, and a member of the LGBTQ community, elaborated further in a blog on the company’s website, writing that the collection was "dreamed up and designed by members and allies of the community, for members and allies of the community."
A representative from the company confirmed with Yahoo Life that plans on rebranding the Disney Pride Collection had been in the works "for months, if not longer."
Becket also noted in her blog post that throughout the month of June, Disney will be celebrating LGBTQ voices in other ways too — such as "Disney PhotoPass Service photo opportunities and themed food and beverage offerings"
"We’ll also be highlighting inspirational and celebratory stories about our guests, cast and community on the Disney Parks Blog and across our social media channels," she added. “I am incredibly 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."
Although Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. have been the site of “Gay Days” celebrations, drawing thousands of LGBTQ people and their families from around the world, the company hasn't officially played host to the event. Instead, the events have been organized by outside groups.
As noted in the Los Angeles Times, the "Gay Days" events attract nearly 30,000 visitors each year to Disneyland. Eddie Shapiro, who co-launched “Gay Days Anaheim” told the newspaper that the Pride Collection was a “step in the right direction."
A Disney rep. couldn't comment on the specifics behind U.S. activations and whether or not the company had plans on partnering with Shapiro or other outside Pride organizers in the future (Disney Paris, however, will be celebrating Magical Pride this year, the first park to officially host a company-sponsored Pride event.)
Meanwhile on social media, opinions have been mixed.
While there have been commenters who've argued that the Pride Collection is a step in the right direction, others say Disney is pandering to a so-called "woke" agenda:
With the release of the Disney Pride Collection, The Walt Disney Company announced that all profits made from this collection’s sales will be donated to support LGBTQIA+ youth and families 🌈 pic.twitter.com/bf3ku2qvCP
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) May 16, 2022
.@Disney stepping up. 100% profits from sales go to LGBTQ+ organizations/families/youth. 100!! Plus, this is the first time this collection is branded with #Pride and not as #Rainbow. #disney #LGBTQ #disneypride pic.twitter.com/HUq25oCwNZ
— Blake Keller WNEM (@blakekellertv) May 17, 2022
This is so perverted it makes me sick🤬🤬🤬
Disney has just unveiled a new LGBTQ Pride children’s collection. Will donate profits to 'trans' kids advocacy groups!!https://t.co/UkmLJDfGaD
— ⚔꧁⊹٭𝙻!¥!𝙽٭⊹꧂⚔ (@Serendipityy45) May 19, 2022
ah yes disney, good job on changing your rainbow collection to the pride collection now that we found out y’all were homophobic
— ardie ツ (@tendencybattles) May 16, 2022
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