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Story highlights

The movie's director promises an 'exclusively gay moment'

The theater owners say they're taking a stand

(CNN) —  

The tale might be as old as time.

But Disney’s new, live-action musical version of “Beauty and the Beast” won’t be the guest of a drive-in theater in Alabama because of a new, gay twist.

“It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” read a message on the Facebook page of the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in the northeast portion of the state. The message was removed Friday evening, but CNN affiliate WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama, has it here.

CNN’s attempts to reach the theater owners were unsuccessful.

An ‘exclusively gay moment’

Director Bill Condon says the character of LeFou, sidekick to the villainous Gaston, has an “exclusively gay moment” in the PG-rated movie – although what that means is unclear.

The New York Daily news calls LeFou “Disney’s first, unambiguously gay character” in its rave review.

Variety’s reviewer says LeFou is “silly and fawning, but I must have missed the memo where that spells ‘gay.’”

Condon told the British gay magazine Attitude, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”

’First and foremost Christians’

The movie hasn’t opened yet, and it seems from the Facebook post that the Henagar Drive-In owners haven’t seen it.

“If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it,” the message said. “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it. We are first and foremost Christians.

“We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family-oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.”

The theater’s Facebook page promoted showings of “Passengers,” a sci-fi romance with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, and the upcoming entry in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

The Facebook message said the theater came under new ownership in December.

Conversation starter online

The post drew thousands of responses and comments on Facebook from supporters and opponents.

“Good for you,” one man wrote. “I certainly will not be taking my six-year-old daughter to see this and have to try and explain that afterwards not cool.”

Another wrote, “Its sad that someone uses jesus to defend his own sins of discrimination against other people.”

Theater patron Jeremy Reed told CNN affiliate WAAY about the fairy tale, “When I grew up it was just a regular story of a regular romance between a man and a woman.”

Clete Wetli, a gay rights advocate, called the theater’s decision “absolutely absurd,” adding, “I commend Disney for being inclusive and showing the real diversity of love in our world.”

Theater owner Carol Laney also spoke to the station.

“My salvation isn’t about money. It’s not about men. It’s what God wants me to do,” she said. “We will not be playing movies that have sex. We will not be playing movies that have nudity. It’s my choice.”

Remember #GiveElsaAGirlfriend?

“Beauty and the Beast” opens March 17 and stars Emma Watson, who rose to fame playing a witch in the “Harry Potter” movies. She falls in love with a prince who is under a curse that makes him appear, well, beastly.

The gay twist might not be so new, after all. Some viewers wondered about LeFou in the classic animated version that, um, came out in 1991. The story features singing and dancing teapots and other household items.

Previous animated Disney characters have appeared to be stereotypically gay without acknowledging it, according to some viewers. And some “Frozen” fans took to Twitter campaiging for a sequel to #GiveElsaAGirlfriend.