Charlee Corra, the great-grandnephew of Walt Disney and the great-grandson of co-founder Roy O. Disney, — who has been dubbed the heir to the popular entertainment and media conglomerate — has publicly came out as transgender.
Corra’s public coming out as a trans man — after having come out privately to family four years ago — comes as the Walt Disney Company has struggled with fallout from its response to controversial legislation in Florida that bars discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grades, but which critics claim will lead to censorship of older students and the singling out of LGBTQ students or students with same-sex parents.
Currently, Disney is facing criticism from powerful institutions, people, and organizations on both sides of the issue. On one side, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently signed into law the ban on LGBTQ content, has threatened to challenge Disney’s self-governing exception in Florida law after the company condemned the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
On the other hand, the company is still dealing with internal fallout, particularly among its LGBTQ employees, for its tepid response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill when it was first introduced. Disney CEO Bob Chapek originally stayed silent on the bill, wishing to avoid conflict or confrontation, and defended his actions when pressed.
Although the company eventually reversed course, halted all political donations in Florida, and pledged to donate money to LGBTQ-serving organizations, many of its employees held walkouts to protest the company’s failure to lobby against the bill, and the Human Rights Campaign ultimately rejected a $5 million dollar “pledge” from Chapek, citing the company’s reticence to speak out against the controversial measure.
“The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books,” Joni Madison, the interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement at the time.
“While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step,” the statement added.
The company has since tried to leverage Corra’s coming out to argue that the company will continue its “commitment and work” with the LGBTQ community. Writing in an “appeal” to the Human Rights Campaign, Corra’s father Roy. P Disney stated that “equality matters deeply to us especially because our child, Charlee [Corra], is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
For their own part, Corra—a high school biology and environmental science teacher—has taken a big step in their own personal journey. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Corra noted that, despite being born to one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the world, he’s faced many of the struggles with identity other LGBTQ individuals have as well.
“I had very few openly gay role models,” Charlee stated in the interview. “And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.”