It was right around this time in June twenty years ago when, in preparation for the theatrical release of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the group All-4-One released the single “Someday.” I’ve found myself playing Luis Miguel’s version of the song over and over again since this weekend’s horrific massacre in the city where I grew up, and I thought perhaps its maudlin-but-optimistic message might bring comfort to someone else today:
A taste of the song’s lyrics:
When we are wiser
When the world's older
When we have learned
Someday we may yet live
And let live
The context for the song’s release is notable. Disney was facing increasing criticism from Christian conservatives, particularly over its relationship with the gay and lesbian community. In 1994, the company’s subsidiary Miramax Films had released the movie Priest, about a young priest who struggles with his sexuality. Then, in 1995, Disney approved same-sex domestic partner benefits for its employees. The annual Gay Days event at Disney’s Orlando theme parks had become so popular that the company’s official neutral stance on the occasion, neither welcoming nor discouraging attendees, was increasingly untenable. A couple short weeks before Hunchback’s release in theaters, the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly in favor of calling for a boycott of all Disney properties.
Then, Hunchback was released, with its themes of both religious devotion and tolerance for the world’s most vulnerable. The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, back when he was a film critic at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, wrote that the film might “come as a surprise to Disney's Christian critics, and should buy back tumbrils of goodwill. Unlike the anti-clerical Victor Hugo novel, Disney’s rewrite of the Hunchback story has rendered it openly pro-Christian.” LGBTQ fans of the movie, on the other hand, found a welcoming message in the film’s portrayal of what it means to be closeted, represented in songs such as “Out There” and “God Help the Outcasts” and “Someday.”
Despite the boycott, Hunchback was a box office success. And the first single from the film, All-4-One’s “Someday,” was a modest hit on the Billboard charts. Luis Miguel’s version of the song, “Sueña,” which reached the top of Billboard’s Latin Pop Songs chart, is the one I’ll be playing on loop this week.