An Oklahoma movie theater raised eyebrows after it posted a sign warning theater-goers of a same-sex kiss in the Pixar movie Lightyear, which serves as a prequel to the Toy Story movie series.
The sign, which was posted on the window of the 89er Theatre in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, over the past weekend, read: “Attention Parents: The management of this theatre discovered after booking ‘Lightyear’ that there is a same-sex kissing scene within the first 30 minutes of the Pixar movie. We will do all we can to fast-forward through that scene, but it might not be exact.”
Pictures of the sign were shared widely on social media, prompting some to call the movie theater to complain.
Oklahoma resident Patricia Kasbek told NBC News she thought the sign was a joke when she first saw pictures of it posted to social media, but became outraged after learning it was real. She called and left a message on the theater’s voicemail.
“I told them that it was completely insulting for them to censor a same-gender kiss when they’ve never done this to an opposite-gender kiss,” Kasbek said. “I will never see a movie at this theater while under this ownership.”
By Monday afternoon, the sign had been removed and the theater had apparently reversed course. The theater’s owner told ABC affiliate KOCO that the theater would show the film uninterrupted, adding that they never fast-forwarded through any part of the movie.
The same-sex kiss, which occurs briefly between the character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her partner, has been the source of much consternation from social conservatives, who have accused Pixar and its parent company, Disney, of seeking to “indoctrinate” or “groom” children, based on the belief that seeing portrayals of same-sex behavior will encourage kids to identify as LGBTQ.
The inclusion of the kiss in the film also led to it being banned in at least 14 countries, primarily in the Middle East and Asia, where same-sex relations are criminalized.
But most movie-goers didn’t seem to have a problem with the scene involving the kiss.
“Watching it, it was no big deal,” Jill Stuever, who took her two sons to see Lightyear, told KOCO. “It was like two seconds. Maybe like one second if you were really paying attention.”
Lili Giles, who brought her 5-year-old to the movie, agreed.
“I thought it was fine. I’m fine with all kinds of different families,” she said.
But Giles also said she could see why the theater posted the sign, to warn families of content that some people might feel uncomfortable with seeing.
“I think they just wanted to be honest with people,” she said.
Alex Wade, the deputy director of Oklahomans for Equality, criticized the theater’s initial decision to post the warning sign.
“I am not shocked to see something like this happening in my state, but it does break my heart that young LGBTQ+ Oklahomans are made to feel like something is wrong with them,” Wade told NBC News. “This is why we develop chapters in rural Oklahoma to show everyone that there are people in their corner.”
Wade also expressed concerns that fast-forwarding through the movie sends a negative message to LGBTQ youth: that their feelings or identities are something of which to be ashamed. He also said there’s a double standard to which films with LGBTQ characters are held, especially compared to films showing affection between presumably straight characters.
“When same-sex couples show affection, even the most chaste of kisses, it is sexualized and treated as if it were explicit,” he said. “If this were a heterosexual couple, the theater would never even think of skipping it, because heterosexual couples are given the grace to be intimate without being shamed.”
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