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LGBTQ+ History Month profile: Howard Ashman

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LGBTQ+ History Month

It's important to highlight the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community have endured in their past, in order to help understand and support the modern community that continues to thrive today. Today we celebrate the life of Howard Ashman.

Who was Howard Ashman?

Born in 1950, Howard Ashman was an American playwright, lyricist and stage director. He was most known for leading the artistic development in Disney classics such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”. He was the lyricist to iconic songs, most notably “Part Of Your World”, a song that has been seen as an allegory for the LGBTQ+ community – seeking acceptance from the public and yearning for a place in which to feel they belong. Sean P. Griffin has written that the lyricist uses the song to demonstrate “a gay dilemma of trying to choose between different worlds” by discussing “fantasy, escape and forbidden romance.”

In 1988 (during the production of The Little Mermaid), Ashman was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Despite this he continued to write songs, helping in the production of Beauty and the Beast. He never got the chance to see the completed film as he passed away on March 14, 1991. The message in the end credits is dedicated to Howard Ashman reading, “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and beast his soul. We will be forever grateful.

Howard Ashman touched the lives of millions of people through his artistic work, with his songs, films and shows.

To find out more about what's happening this month, visit our LGBTQ+ History Month hub!


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