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‘Fire Island’: Joel Kim Booster Says Disney’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Support ‘Weighs Heavily’ Before Hulu Premiere

"It's not something I'm happy about. I'll say that," the writer and star said of his queer-com premiering on the Disney-backed streaming site.

Joel Kim Booster in the film FIRE ISLAND. Photo by Jeong Park. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Joel Kim Booster in “Fire Island”

Jeong Park. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Fire Island” writer and star Joel Kim Booster is reflecting on his Jane Austen–inspired queer romantic comedy’s legacy even ahead of its release amid Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“Fire Island” stars Booster, Bowen Yang, Zane Phillips, James Scully, Matt Rogers, Tomas Matos, Torian Miller, and Margaret Cho in the vacation rom-com, out on Hulu June 3. Yet after first being acquired as a TV series by Quibi, “Fire Island” was greenlit by Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures, which will premiere the film on Disney-backed streamer Hulu. That partnership is now being called into question following Disney’s financial support of Florida’s homophobic bill that banned discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida primary schools.

“It’s something that weighs on me really heavily, the responsibility of making, first off, a good and honest movie and something that felt authentic and real to the gay experience, and then to know that it’s being produced through many pipelines to Disney,” Booster told Entertainment Weekly.

He continued, “We live in a society and we have to make concessions in order to get things done. For me, I’m so grateful that this movie is going to be seen by so many people and, in that way, hopefully will help queer kids who see themselves in these characters to feel good and affirmed. I don’t know really what else to say. It’s not a great answer. I’m sort of waffling here, but it’s tough. It’s not something I’m happy about. I’ll say that.”

While Disney employees criticized the political stance of the conglomerate media company, Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized for how the backlash was handled. After Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed “Don’t Say Gay” into law, an official Disney statement vowed to make all efforts to repeal the measure.

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” the statement read. “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

Florida lawmakers have since revoked the half-century special district for Walt Disney World amid the “Don’t Say Gay” controversy.

Watch the “Fire Island” trailer here.

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