Gabrielle Union speaks out about her gutsy decision to call Disney out on their own red carpet

Gabrielle Union speaks out about her gutsy decision to call Disney out on their own red carpet
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Gabrielle Union attends the Premiere of Disney's "Cheaper By The Dozen" on March 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic) Photo: FilmMagic

Actress Gabrielle Union didn’t flinch when she was asked about Disney’s controversial stance, lackluster response, and subsequent apology over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill – even though she was walking the red carpet for her new Disney film, Cheaper by the Dozen.

And on Crooked Media’s Keep It podcast, she went even further and explained exactly why she did it.

Related: Disney’s current and former CEO on bad terms as company sorts out botched “Don’t Say Gay” response

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill would stop teachers from mentioning LGBTQ people in elementary schools. The bill has passed the Florida legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Union and her husband, former basketball star Dwyane Wade, have a transgender daughter.

The controversy began when it was revealed that Disney had donated money to the bill’s main sponsors. By the time Union walked the red carpet, the company’s excuses had long worn thin.

“I don’t want to say shock because hatred doesn’t shock me at this point. I’ve been a Black woman in America since ’72. Nothing shocks me, but the fear that gripped me because I know what this leads to,” Union told a reporter who asked about the issue. “Every moment in history, there has been this moment. We know how this ends. We know where hate and oppression lead. And it can start now with the LGBTQIA community, but if you think that it’s just a them problem. Oh baby, you’re next.”

“You can’t stand against hate and oppression and fund hate and oppression. That doesn’t work. Obviously, our family has a big spotlight. My child is one child. There are countless children who deserve peace and the ability to survive and thrive in this world, just like everybody else. And if you think that your kid isn’t next, you are so sadly mistaken.”

“I was very clear about my thoughts about Disney funding hate and oppression on a Disney red carpet,” she said about the potential repercussions of her red carpet statement. “I don’t know if… They might murder off my character.”

“The reality is, I don’t know. I will never know how my name is spoken of in rooms, you know, due to me telling the truth, right? I have no idea.

“Luckily, there’s enough other companies that are willing to hire me knowing that I tell the truth,” she continued. “I will not be held back by fear of what? You know, take my career away? I’m Black in Hollywood. What does that even mean? You know what I mean?”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek initially refused to publicly condemn the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. He wrote that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds” and “are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.” Instead, he highlighted the company’s commitment to telling diverse stories.

Chapek then said he would meet Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to discuss somehow preventing the bill from being weaponized against LGBTQ people. In response, DeSantis said that he refused to bow down to “woke corporations” and released a video accusing LGBTQ people of trying to  “inject transgenderism into kindergarten.”

Trying to do damage control, Disney said it would donate $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other LGBTQ rights organizations. HRC rejected its donation and said Disney needed to take more direct action to combat the bill. Chapek eventually apologized to employees for not denouncing the bill., but the damage had been done.

Companies throughout Disney’s portfolio – including ESPN, Hulu, Marvel Studios, and Pixar – supported an employee walkout yesterday and condemned the legislation. After Pixar employees blew the whistle that the company had been forced by censors to remove a same-sex smooch in the upcoming Lightyear movie, the company backtracked and said the small gesture of affection will be restored to the film before release.

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