Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out

By Sean Griffin | Go to book overview

3
Finding a Place in the Kingdom
Homosexuality at Disney during the Eisner Era

IN AUGUST OF 1992, a number of employees convened at the commissary of the Walt Disney studio in Burbank. Many who attended that first meeting remembered later the pervasive nervousness and uncertainty. A number of them knew others that had decided not to attend because they felt that it was some sort of a trap and that all those who attended would be put on a list and eventually fired. Some attendees said that they showed up mainly to “see what would happen,” because they were so surprised to see a meeting like this occurring at Disney. The meeting was the first held for and, most importantly, by homosexual employees of the Walt Disney Company. The result of the discussions at that first gathering was a new employee group named LEsbian And Gay United Employees, or LEAGUE for short.

LEAGUE was the first lesbian/gay/bisexual employees group to form at any major Hollywood studio, a landmark achievement considering the “wholesome” and “family-oriented” image of the company almost since its inception. Obviously, the work force and the day-to-day atmosphere of the company had changed immensely from the days when the studio was referred to as “Mickey's Monastery.” Many of those changes occurred not just within the Walt Disney Company but within the entire social framework of the United States. Yet, specific economic and business events within the history of the company after Walt's death also helped spur such changes.

This chapter will analyze how LEAGUE conceives of itself and how it works within the corporation, as well as how these conceptions affect the group's ability to materially change the lives of its members and other lesbians and gay men.

In order to fully comprehend the issues raised by LEAGUE's existence, one must examine two linked historical developments. Firstly,

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