Is Luca Pixar’s First Gay Movie?

Luca is a 2021 American computer-animated coming-of-age fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is directed by Enrico Casarosa.

It is written by Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones, produced by Andrea Warren, and starring the voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan, Peter Sohn, Lorenzo Crisci, Marina Massironi, and Sandy Martin.

Luca is immediately taken by the free-spirited Alberto when he meets a fellow sea monster off the coast of Portorosso. They’re casually physical with each other, sleeping side by side under a star-filled sky,

wrapping their arms around each other’s waists, and watching the sunset together. In fact, they spend a lot of the film embracing each other — teasing that their relationship could blossom into something more.

Luca takes inspiration from Casarosa’s childhood in Genoa, several Pixar artists, were sent to the Italian Riviera gathering research from Italian culture and environment.

The sea monsters, a “metaphor for feeling different”, were loosely based on old Italian regional myths and folklore. Casarosa has explicitly said that the film is not a queer story, that it is all “platonic” and determinedly “pre-pubescent.”

That suggests a limited understanding of gay growing up, particularly of when our feelings of affection and special closeness and difference can first develop.

It would seem, as it so often does, that in Casarosa’s view, queerness must specifically involve sex to be queerness at all. And, of course, Pixar is never going to make a movie, ostensibly for kids, that even hints at sex.

The film arrives at a crazy time in Disney’s tortured relationship with queer storytelling, just a few weeks after Cruella featured a sidelined character—second-hand clothing boutique owner Artie—proudly touted as queer,

or non-binary, or something. And that character, played tartly but briefly by John McCrea, is slightly less of a scrap than the embarrassingly ballyhooed “exclusively gay moment” in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast—but Artie still barely registered amid Cruella’s cynical clamor.

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