“You can’t stand against hate and oppression and fund hate and oppression.”
Gabrielle Union, while promoting a new Disney film, recently had those words to offer – among others – when asked about the production company’s initial silence regarding Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and its earlier fiscal support of some of its authors.
For those unfamiliar with it, the bill seeks to eradicate any discussion of issues pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms throughout the Sunshine State. The state legislature passed the measure on March 8, and awaits a signature from Gov. Ron DeSantis – who has already voiced his support for it.
In the lead-up to its passage, there was a public call for Disney executives to denounce the measure, in hopes that the company’s significant business presence in the state would influence the decision. But Disney CEO Bob Chapek initially declined comment – angering both employees and the broader public in the process.
After the initial backlash, Chapek later released a statement to Disney employees, noting that “this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” and apologizing for not being “a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights.” He also announced a “pause” to all political donations while the company reassesses its giving structure.
While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere of her “Cheaper by the Dozen” remake – which was produced by Walt Disney Pictures – Union stated that more, still, is needed. “If you’re going to take a stand and be all about diversity and inclusion … you need to actually put your money where your mouth is,” she said, adding that we, collectively, should “look who’s donating to what and … call people out.”
The actress and producer has been a long-time, vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community, speaking out on the need for inclusion and raising money for organizations that foster and support equity. She is also the step-mother of a trans daughter, Zara, whom she speaks of proudly, and often.
Plus, as she pointed out, “I’ve been a Black woman in America since ’72,” so while she wasn’t surprised by Disney’s initial inaction, she recalls being gripped with fear over the matter all the same, “because I know what this leads to.”
Which is likely why she sought to impress the severity of the situation – both regarding this bill, and others like it that have been proposed throughout the nation – upon listeners. “Every moment in history, there has been this moment,” she said. “We know how this ends. We know where hate and oppression lead.”