Rumor has it that a lot of the employees working at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory are LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people). The owner of the chocolate company, Willy Wonka, is supposed to be openly gay. In the past, Wonka has expressed his support for same-sex marriage.
Now, the rumor has turned into a truth. Out of the blue, a group of gay rights activists, who also happen to be lawyers, have filed a lawsuit against the candy company. They want to know if Willy Wonka is indeed gay and if the company treats its LGBT+ employees equally.
The History Of Homophobia In Entertainment
The media has long painted a picture of Willy Wonka being some sort of a mad scientist who created a factory that turns regular, everyday objects into chocolate. But the truth is a little more complex.
The story of how the chocolate factory came to be has its roots in a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental illness and many companies wouldn’t hire gay people. In reality, Willy Wonka was tricked into creating the chocolate factory by a con artist who wanted to steal his money. But once Willy Wonka realized he could make a lot of money off the chocolate he invented, he worked hard to prove that he shouldn’t have been so quick to judge people. Still, the media continues to label the candy company as homophobic because of its connection to LGBT issues.
Is Willy Wonka Gay?
For decades, there have been rumors that Willy Wonka is gay. In the 1960s and 1970s, rumors spread that the eccentric candy maker had affairs with several of his female employees. While it’s true that Wonka’s relationships with women have been a topic of speculation, he has never been accused of being gay. In the past, he has even gone so far as to say that he isn’t (at least not publicly).
The first public hint that Wonka might be gay was in the 1971 book, I Chose to be Happy, by Roger Ebert. In the book, Ebert claims he interviewed Wonka and asked the billionaire candy maker if he’s ever had a homosexual experience. To which Wonka reportedly replied, “Not that I know of. I haven’t, as you probably gathered, had much experience of the sort.” To which Ebert responded, “You haven’t experienced much of anything, have you?”
After that, Ebert reportedly dropped the topic and didn’t bring it up again even after Wonka appeared in a 1977 documentary where he discussed his personal life. But the topic couldn’t stay buried forever, and in 2015, after years of speculation, it was finally revealed that Willy Wonka is, in fact, gay. On July 1, 2015, the New York Times published an article by Maureen Dowd, revealing that Wonka had been in a relationship with a man named Georges Riba for the past five years and was set to marry him in 2018. While most people were happy to hear that one of the most recognizable faces in popular culture might be homosexual, some in the LGBT+ community were less than thrilled that the news was made public after so many years of speculation. Still, for the sake of being able to report the truth, Dowd decided to give Georges a call and set up an interview. During the course of the interview, Georges revealed that he is, in fact, heterosexual and that he is set to wed Wonka in June 2018. The couple decided to celebrate the engagement by renting out a private island for a wedding party. Following their commitment to each other, Georges and Wonka plan to live happily ever after.
Does The Chocolate Factory Treat Its LGBT+ Employees Equally?
The lawsuit filed by the LGBT+ rights group has been harshly criticized by Wonka’s fans. Many are accusing the lawyers of attempting to cash in on the success of the candy company by filing suit and looking for a quick payout. One particularly irate Wonka fan even started an online petition to have the lawsuit thrown out. As it stands, the petition has over 22,000 signatures and counting (at the time of this writing). For its part, the candy company has stated that it doesn’t consider itself homophobic and that it will fight the lawsuit tooth and nail.
While there’s no concrete evidence that the workers at the Chocolate Factory are directly involved in the legal proceedings, there is some evidence that the owners believe that they’ve been targeted by the lawyers for some sort of legal extortion. According to Wonka, the firm is demanding $10 million in exchange for dropping the charges. So far, the company has refused to pay up. In the meantime, the legal battle continues.
It’s true that Willy Wonka is often associated with gay rights due to his presumed homosexuality and advocacy for same-sex marriage. But did you know that the chocolate company has a history of discriminatory practices? Just last year, it was revealed that the owners of the Chocolate Factory were openly hostile to LGBT+ people. According to a lawsuit filed in May 2018, the candy company refused to acknowledge its employees’ LGBT+ orientations, making it a dangerous place to be. As a result of the lawsuit, the company was forced to provide individualized training to employees about LGBT+ issues and ensure that its employees are represented by transgender advocates in legal proceedings. Still, it’s questionable whether or not having an open and affirming work environment is something that should be demanded by legal authorities.