It’s past time for Disney to introduce LGBTQ characters, and I’m not talking about an extremely vague reference to a character being gay like in the 2017 Beauty and the Beast movie.
An excellent opportunity for this would be Frozen 2, due out next year. In an interview with Huffington Post, Frozen writer and director Jennifer Lee talked about the possibility of Elsa getting a girlfriend and the impact the character has had; “I love everything people are saying [and] people are thinking about with our film ― that it’s creating dialogue, that Elsa is this wonderful character that speaks to so many people…It means the world to us that we’re part of these conversations.”
People have been talking about Elsa getting a girlfriend since Frozen was released five years ago, due in part to the queer themes throughout the movie. We were introduced to this character who was made to feel like there was a part of her that was wrong and needed to be hidden and then goes on this journey to self-acceptance. Oh and there’s that award-winning song she sings that has a coming out vibe to it.
Lee also said, “Where we’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things… For me … Elsa’s every day telling me where she needs to go, and she’ll continue to tell us. I always write from character-out, and where Elsa is and what Elsa’s doing in her life, she’s telling me every day. We’ll see where we go.”
I understand the idea of wanting your characters to tell you, but also, that’s such a cop-out because if she doesn’t end up queer, all Lee has to say is “Welp, she just didn’t tell me that.” At the end of the day, she has to take responsibility for the content she’s creating instead of just shrugging and telling people it’s up to the character. No, it’s up to the writer.
It’s up to the writer to put aside whatever fear they have that’s stopping them from representing a wildly underrepresented group of people. There are NO LGBTQ Disney characters; there are no Disney princesses or princes that kids are looking up to and saying “Hey, they’re like me,” there’s just a whole slew of queer coded villains.
I’m tired of the cop-out answers, I’m tired of the teases and the queerbaiting, either commit to giving a straight (or gay) answer, or commit to not teasing things like “Ooo I don’t know if she’ll get a girlfriend.” You’re the writer, of course you know!. The LGBTQ community has dealt with enough and not only do we deserve representation, we deserve not to be jerked around.
If Disney is worried about social conservatives pushing back on Elsa getting a girlfriend, they would do well to remember that positive representation in media is life-changing and, in many cases, life-saving. In fact, there is nothing lost in creating LGBTQ characters, but there is quite a lot to gain with the thousands of LGBTQ kids who will get to see themselves represented for the first time. Representation is validating. It can help give you a word for something you’re feeling but can’t express; it can help you start a conversation, and studies have shown that positive representation in media leads to larger societal acceptance.
The bottom line is, it’s time for LGBTQ Disney characters. It’s time for more LGBTQ characters in media, period. There will always be a bigot to complain about something, always someone around to explain about how seeing LGBTQ characters on screen is harmful to children, always someone to give creators an excuse not to do it. Fortunately for the bigots, there’s plenty of other media to consume, but it’s time for someone else to shine.
As for Elsa actually getting a girlfriend? I’ll believe it when I see it.
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