Willow’s heartwarming LGBTQ+ romance received ‘no pushback’ from Disney, says producer

Actors Erin Kellyman as Jade (L) and Ruby Cruz as Kit stand close to each other in a scene from new Disney+ series Willow. (Disney:Lucasfilms)

New Disney+ series Willow received “no pushback” for centring a queer romance, said producer Jonathan Kasdan. 

The YA fantasy series starring Warwick Davis is a sequel to the ’80s cult classic fantasy film but with a queer twist. 

In the teenage ensemble cast, we meet Kit (Ruby Cruz), an unconventional princess, and Jade (Erin Kellyman), an orphan girl with aspirations to become the first female knight. 

Through the course of the series, Kit realises she is in love with her best friend Jade, and soon finds that it may not be entirely unrequited. 

“There was no pushback,” Kasdan told Polygon, “I believe we’re at a moment where you’re going to see a paradigm shift.”

He hopes queer stories that are “organic” to the main narrative “find their way in and it becomes a less surprising and unusual thing to see. Because it is part of the landscape of the world around us.”

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Comparing it to the ’80s Willow which he says was “not very diverse” he adds “the world has changed” and hopes “the show can be growing as the world grows”.

Kellyman also spoke about the relationship between Kit and Jade with Screenrant, saying: “I think it really tests their friendship. 

“It’s much harder than they could have ever expected, and it brings them closer, and it separates them, and they clash, and then they come together. It’s a really beautiful journey that they go on.”

Disney’s history with LGBTQ+ representation

While this queer romance should certainly be celebrated, it is the latest LGBTQ+ centric headline to involve Disney due to their fraught relationship with the community. 

Most recently they have received backlash from queer fans for their failure to promote Strange World, the first Disney animation to feature a gay lead character which has now flopped at the box office. 

Earlier this year they made headlines for a minuscule kiss between a lesbian couple in Lightyear which was able to be cut out in some countries. 

The studio also released a statement showing support for the LGBTQ+ community after Florida announced its Don’t Say Gay bill. 

However, they immediately came under fire after it was discovered three Disney entities gave a combined $4,000 to the chief sponsors of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay legislation for the 2022 re-election campaigns.

This latest allowance of a basic LGBTQ+ plot simply papers over the cracks of Disney’s continued failings toward the queer community. 

Further LGBTQ+ representation in Willow

Willow is also the first Disney and Lucasfilms production to star an openly trans actor, Talisa Garcia, who plays a queen and mother.

Taking to Instagram with the news, she wrote: “I was in so much pain from growing up in the wrong body that I spent hours living in a fantasy world where I was a princess or, in my more daring flights of fancy, even a queen, in a magical Disney production.

“I would never have dared to tell anyone of these ideas back then as they seemed so impossible, so ridiculously out of reach but regardless, I never stopped dreaming.

“Here I am, all these years later, an actual queen in a magical Lucasfilm & Disney production. That wild fantasy land that I used to disappear into for escape and comfort is now reality… so, from one daydreamer to all the others out there… don’t stop! Dreams do come true.”

Willow is now streaming on Disney+.

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