An Oklahoma movie theater ignited controversy by posting a sign warning customers of a “same-sex kissing scene” in Pixar’s new animated film, “Lightyear.”
The sign on the window of the 89er Theatre in Kingfisher, a small town of about 5,000 people about 50 miles from Oklahoma City, read, in part: “Attention Parents: The management of this theatre discovered after booking ‘Lightyear’ that there is a same-sex kissing scene within the first 30 minutes of the Pixar movie. We will do all we can to fast-forward through that scene, but it might not be exact.”
The sign, which was reportedly posted over the weekend, was gone by Monday afternoon, NBC affiliate KFOR of Oklahoma City reported. The 89er Theatre did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Oklahoma resident Patricia Kasbek, 42, said she initially thought the sign was a joke when she first saw it posted to social media but became outraged when she realized it was real. She called the theater to leave a complaint but got sent to voicemail.
“I told them that it was completely insulting for them to censor a same-gender kiss when they’ve never done this to an opposite-gender kiss,” Kasbek said, calling the sign “cruel” and “bigoted.” “I will never see a movie at this theater while under this ownership.”
Neither Pixar Animation Studios nor its parent, The Walt Disney Co., responded to requests for comment about the sign.
The same-sex kiss in “Lightyear,” an animated “Toy Story” spinoff, is Pixar’s first acknowledged same-sex kiss in a feature film. The brief kissing scene between a lesbian couple caused the film to be banned in much of the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, according to The Associated Press.
Alex Wade, the deputy director of Oklahomans for Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, slammed the 89er Theatre for posting the warning sign.
“I am not shocked to see something like this happening in my state, but it does break my heart that young LGBTQ+ Oklahomans are made to feel like something is wrong with them,” he said. “This is why we develop chapters in rural Oklahoma to show everyone that there are people in their corner.”
Wade added that fast-forwarding through a same-sex kiss scene sends the message that LGBTQ love is inappropriate.
“When same-sex couples show affection, even the most chaste of kisses, it is sexualized and treated as if it were explicit,” he said. “If this were a heterosexual couple, the theater would never even think of skipping it, because heterosexual couples are given the grace to be intimate without being shamed.”
Eric Ogilvie, a former employee of the theater who lives in Oklahoma City, said that he wasn’t surprised by the sign but that he was disappointed. Ogilvie, 27, grew up in Kingfisher and came out as gay during high school. He said that he didn’t experience harsh bullying in school but that he never felt a sense of belonging or acceptance, either.
“I just knew growing up in Kingfisher that it wasn’t really OK to be gay and that you’re going to be treated differently,” he said. “I loved my job at the theater, but for them to come out and put a sign on their door ... why not just send the movie back or rescind the contract and not post something for everyone to see?”
Ogilvie said that representation matters and that he believes “Lightyear” could help kids who may feel they are different.
“The sign tells kids that it’s not OK to be gay, it’s not OK to be different,” he said. “They don’t want those kids to see it, but that’s not the real world.”
Ogilvie said he has one message for kids who may have seen the sign: “Don’t let other people define you. You know, it’s tough at the moment, but things will get better. You’ll find people who accept and love you for who you are.”