All four of the actors from Disney’s smash-hit, Oscar-winning film “Frozen” are now officially Disney Legends. And at their ceremony at D23 on Friday morning, none of them could “let it go.” (Sorry, had to do it.) Kristen Bell apologized for destroying a generation of parents’ eardrums, while Josh Gad joked about adding “Disney Legend” to his driver’s license. And Idina Menzel belted out a brief snippet of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Jonathan Groff, who plays Kristoff in the films, took the opportunity to bring up how Disney and “Frozen” allowed him to embrace his identity.
“As a young gay boy growing up in the late-’80s/early ’90s, Disney VHS tapes were my primary source of escape and self-expression,” Groff said, adding that as a child he dressed up as everyone from Peter Pan to Mary Poppins. “My Mennonite grandparents called me ‘Mary,’ without a hint of irony.”
At the conclusion of his speech, Groff thanked “Frozen” directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, as well as the Disney company, for creating characters that allow everyone to celebrate who they are. “Thank you for creating a space for young boys to dress up as Anna and Elsa,” he said.
The speech is certainly an interesting one, considering the criticism the Walt Disney Company has received for its stance on LGBTQ issues. Earlier this year Disney faced backlash after it was revealed that the conglomerate funded Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill and its backers, including governor Ron DeSantis.
Disney employees took several opportunities to criticize the controversial political effort, which sought to ban teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida elementary schools. A faction of Disney employees took part in a walkout protest on March 22. Disney-owned animation studio Pixar spoke out against the bill and also reinstated a same-sex kiss in the upcoming “Toy Story” prequel, “Lightyear.” The animation house reportedly originally yielded to executive pressures to remove the scene.
Following the backlash, the Walt Disney Company issued a statement March 28 after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” act was signed into law by DeSantis.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. 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.”