Gabrielle Union Blasts Disney for Handling of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill: ‘You Shouldn’t Fund Hate and Oppression’

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Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Gabrielle Union has levied criticism towards the Walt Disney Company over its widely derided decision to take a soft stance regarding new anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation in Florida.

The actress, who stars alongside Zach Braff in the studio’s upcoming Disney Plus reimagining of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” voiced her dismay regarding the situation on the red carpet for the streaming release.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Are you disappointed?’ I’m disappointed when my order isn’t right at In-N-Out. I don’t even think that’s a word that you could use for something like this, where children’s lives are literally hanging in the balance,” Union told Variety at the premiere. “We need to own that if you truly are taking stands against hate and oppression, you should not fund hate and oppression. Period. The damage is done.”

The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek have been embroiled in controversy over the past weeks for the corporation’s initial decision to take a soft stance on new legislation in Florida, popularly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would limit discussions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation in educational environments. The bill was passed by the state’s House of Representatives on Feb. 24 and the state Senate in early March.

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Zaya Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James Union Wade and Dwyane Wade at the “Cheaper By The Dozen” premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Gilbert Flores for Variety

On top of that, Variety learned that Chapek had received a letter from LGBTQIA+ employees at Disney requesting that company take a public stance condemning the bill. An Orlando Sentinel report on Feb. 25 also revealed that Disney has donated money to every single sponsor and co-sponsor of the bill.

“There are so many states that are following suit [with Florida’s legislation], because there is no pushback, because no one in positions of power [or] corporations are taking a hard stance,” Union continued. “Let’s look who’s donating to what and let’s call people out… I think a lot of people like to confuse accountability and consequences for cancel culture. And as long as you have a microphone and a stage that’s not cancel culture, honey… We have to campaign and fund for those people who stand for all of us.”

When asked on the topic of Disney associates reaching out to Chapek, Union hypothesized, “I think a lot of people reached out to him. And if you have to see my child for that to be to be the difference maker, that’s not enough. There’s a lot of kids out there, not just famous ones.”

A group of LGBTQIA+ employees at The Walt Disney Company are planning a week of staff walkouts in response to the Chapek’s handling of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Union also spoke about the anti-trans legislation in Texas. She had a message for trans youth who may be fearful of its impact.

“There are bad people controlling your fate, but we are working our asses off to make sure that not only do you survive but that you thrive,” said Union, whose stepdaughter Zaya is trans. “There are so many more people that are working actively so that you have peace and that you can exist in the same way as everyone else has the ability to exist. We are fighting and we will never stop fighting. As long as I have air in my lungs we will not stop fighting for you and I’m not alone in that.”