Disney slammed for falling short yet again with Jack Whitehall’s gay Jungle Cruise character

Jack Whitehall, Emily Blunt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in Disney's Jungle Cruise.

Disney’s Jungle Cruise is facing the ire of the LGBT+ community after it emerged that Jack Whitehall’s gay character McGregor Houghton never actually uses the word “gay”.

There was widespread frustration in 2018 when it emerged that Whitehall had been cast as an “effete, very camp” gay character in the film, which was inspired by a Disneyland ride of the same name.

While Jack Whitehall has been bigging up what could have been a momentous “coming out scene”, Variety revealed on Tuesday (27 July) that the word “gay” is never actually used in Jungle Cruise and McGregor only ever alludes to his sexuality.

In the coming out scene, Whitehall’s character tells Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character Frank that he broke off engagements with three separate women because his “interests happily lay elsewhere”.

He goes on to praise his sister Lily (played by Emily Blunt), saying she was the only family member who “stood by” him while the rest of his family shunned him because of who he “loved”.

Queer Disney fans aren’t happy that Jungle Cruise skirts around sexuality

Many LGBT+ Disney fans hit out at Jungle Cruise on social media following the revelation, which some questioning why Disney is so reluctant to depict unabashedly queer characters.

Despite the criticism from LGBT+ fans, Jack Whitehall told Variety that he is “proud” of the ‘coming-out’ scene.

“I think it was a really well-written scene, and one that we certainly thought about and talked about,” Whitehall said.

“I hope that it’s a scene that audiences enjoy… I certainly felt at the time that I was proud of the work that we’d done.”

The actor told SlashFilm that he “totally understood the significance” of the scene, adding that he was “very nervous” about getting it right.

“We really talked about it so much,” Whitehall explained. “I love that you learn that about McGregor, and he has this interesting and rich backstory, and he’s a man in full, and he has this full realised character.”

Whitehall’s comments will do little to sooth the annoyance of Disney fans who were frustrated when he was cast as a gay character in Jungle Cruise in 2018. At the time, the actor faced significant backlash, with some suggesting the role should be played by a gay actor.

Others expressed discomfort about the idea of a straight actor playing a “camp” gay character, with some worried the film could end up pushing harmful stereotypes about gay people.