Disney-Pixar’s “Luca” embraces queer coded theme, faces controversy


Courtesy of Disney+

Luca uses the idea of sea monsters to explore “coming out” themes.

Sadie Larios, Pepper Bough Staff Writer

In Pixar’s “Luca,” does being a sea monster infer more than it is supposed to?

“Luca,” produced by Disney and Pixar, and released on Disney+, offers many a sense of comfort. For others, however, there is controversy around its LGBTQ themes. 

Luca and Alberto quickly become friends due to the fact they are both sea monsters in a sea monster-fearing world. They are curious about the human world and explore a local town on the Italian Riviera, but are constantly worrying about being discovered by the townspeople and Luca’s parents. Together, they enter a competition to win a Vespa. They also face many obstacles, such as learning how to be regular humans, training for the competition with their new friend Giulia, and hiding their true selves from the ignorant townspeople.

Over the years, Disney has slowly become more open to showing aspects of homosexuality and the LGBTQ community in their movies. And “Luca,” even if unintended, does have a queer-coded undertone.

The idea of ¨being in the closet¨ is for many a very scary situation due to fears of rejection by friends and family. For Luca and Alberto, this fear of others means getting hurt and rejected if caught. 

Many believe the boys being sea monsters is a symbol of hiding in the closet. Luca and Alberto share some intense, vulnerable moments, like watching the stars, confiding personal secrets, and even planning a future exploring the world.

In the movie, they end up being discovered as sea monsters when during the competition they get wet. At first, the townspeople scream at the boys out of anger and fear. It is not until Giulia and her father stick up for them that they are accepted. 

Many claim this is a common experience coming out. They are feared and most of the time it comes with being shunned by others. For others, they claim that having one person in their life accept them is enough.

For Disney to show this experience in some way connects for many in the LGBTQ community, making them feel less alone on their journey. Even in 2021, the topic of homosexuality and the LGBTQ community is very controversial due to ideas related to social norms and religion. 

Many who are outraged by the queer undertones of “Luca” have shared feedback with Disney expressing that they found the film completely inappropriate. They have taken time to share feedback on social media and post negative reviews about why it is inappropriate for children.

While these attitudes are well-intended, they are misguided. What “Luca” provides is an accurate description of one type of the many coming out experiences in the community.

“Luca” not only impacts the LGBTQ community by offering a well-told, relatable story, it helps children who believe they are different and “inappropriate” to feel less alone.


“Luca” is currently streaming on Disney+.