Disney’s Li Shang was definitely ‘sexually fluid’, according to Mulan voice actor BD Wong
The legendary actor discussed his career and representation of Asian-American actors in a recent episode of the Las Culturistas podcast. During his appearance on the podcast, Wong was asked the question that all Mulan fans have wanted to know: Was Li Shang attracted to Ping?
In the film, Li Shang falls in love with Mulan after she enters the army disguised as a male soldier named Ping. Queer fans have always claimed Li Shang as one of their own because of his close, loving relationship with both Ping and Mulan, even though Disney has never commented on the Chinese army general’s sexuality.
But Wong, who was the voice actor of Li Shang in the original film, said he would “like to think” that his beloved character was attracted to Ping. He added: “I don’t want to disappoint anyone, and I don’t want to be a coward or anything like that.”
Wong then said that sexual “fluidity is a very important thing to acknowledge”, which was not something that they considered “when we made the movie”. He said: “We didn’t talk about fluidity.”
“Now, we have fluidity. Now ,we can watch Shang, his choices and his actions and see it through the lens of fluidity,” Wong said. “And this whole idea that there’s a needle, and it goes from 0 to 100 and it doesn’t have to be in one place or another and it can move.”
After a few minutes discussing sexual fluidity, BD Wong ‘recalibrated’ his answer to say that “of course” Li Shang was attracted to Ping.
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“So in that case, I’m recalibrating my answer: Of course he was, what other reason would there be [for his actions],” Wong said.
But the Jurassic Park and Law & Order actor admitted he used to deny that there were any romantic overtures between Li Shang and Ping. Wong explained: “I used to say ‘oh no come on guys … don’t go there. That’s not what it’s about’.”
Li Shang has long been considered a bisexual icon by LGBT+Disney fans hungry for representation in animated movies.
However, fans were utterly devastated when Disney revealed it had removed the beloved character from its live-action remake. The movie’s producer Jason Reed explained that Li Shang was split into two new characters in the 2020 film: a new army superior, Commander Tung, and a new soldier love interest, Cheng Honghui.
He said the reason the original animated character was split was because Li Shang had been Mulan’s commanding officer and her love interest, creating an uncomfortable power dynamic in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable, and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed said. “And we thought that in a lot of ways that it was sort of justifying behaviour we’re doing everything we can to get out of our industry.”