Disney has won a lot of praise for the inclusive representation of late. On the female front, Tangled and Frozen gave us heroines who were self-rescuing princesses, and the later emphasized the value of sisterhood, even over the typical romance trope. Then with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney brought some deeply desired diversity to the galaxy far far away with the crazy charismatic trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe. Fans rejoiced, not just because a franchise long loved by a diverse group of people was now showing love for them back, but also because how damn cool are Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac on and off screen!?
But the annual GLAAD report points out an area where Disney can definitely do better.
When it came to LGBT representation, Disney was 0 for 11, meaning in the 11 films they released in 2015, none had a gay, lesbian, trans or queer character. I know, I know maybe Poe Dameron. But even if Isaac’s intention was to play Poe as a gay, bi or pansexual man, Disney can still do better. Certainly fan art suggests there’s a vocal group of moviegoers who are ready for more inclusive queer representation. And as Slash Film points out, J.J. Abrams has confirmed the expanding Star Wars universe will include LGBT characters. But the fan demand that’s getting the most attention focuses on the upcoming Frozen sequel.
While no plot has been revealed for Frozen 2, Twitter has asserted a clear request: #GiveElsaAGirlfriend
I hope Disney makes Elsa a lesbian princess imagine how iconic that would be— Alexis Isabel (@lexi4prez) May 1, 2016
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend cuz damn if there was representation when I was a kid I would have known that luv isn't only between a guy and girl— Gabrielle (@gabrielledianaa) May 2, 2016
I absolutely adore the idea of #GiveElsaAGirlfriend . Kids need to know that love comes in different varieties & it's okay to be who you are— Lann❣ (@LanaxNicole3) May 1, 2016
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because it would be a huge step towards queer kids feeling loved and accepted from a young age— your gay is showing⚢ (@GIRLSKISSGlRLS) May 1, 2016
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend— chelsea (@McDebnam) May 1, 2016
Because I want this:
Kid: so you have two mommies?
my kid: yes
Kid: so like Elsa & ___
my kid: yes
Kid: that's cool!
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because half of Frozen is one big metaphor for being in the closet, getting outed, and coming to terms with yourself…— Dana Addams (@TheDanaAddams) May 1, 2016
If a gay Disney princess will turn little girls gay how come the mermaid Disney princess didn't turn me into a mermaid? #GiveElsaAGirlfriend— Twitnter is Coming (@OhNoSheTwitnt) May 2, 2016
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because gay girls are princesses too!!!!!— Alexis Isabel (@lexi4prez) May 1, 2016
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because love is an open door— Queen Taylor [PB] (@SwiftieMahomie) May 1, 2016
For many, Frozen’s theme of self-acceptance spoke to the journey of coming out. But it’s not one that Disney has made explicit, and to do so would spark a backlash from bigots (again.) However, we’re living in a country where gay marriage is now legal, where more and more children are growing up with gay parents, and where trans awareness is on the rise. Things are changing for the better, and Disney could be an important part of this movement. Officially establishing a Disney princess as gay would be a bold choice by the studio, but frankly it is one that they can afford.
For one thing, they’ve already introduced lesbian characters on Once Upon A Time, where Mulan crushed on Aurora, and Red Riding Hood and Dorothy fell in love. Secondly, recent Disney releases that touched on social politics have all paid off big. The feminist fairy tale Frozen broke scads of box office records, and became a merchandizing sensation where demand often overwhelmed supply. The more inclusive Force Awakens was also wildly successful, though detractors may suggest that was inevitable, as even the loathed prequels did well at the box office. Then consider Zootopia. The animated animal movie that tackles race is on track to make a billion dollars worldwide. And that’s for an original animated movie with no major stars and no princess or Marvel heroes to help it along.
Disney can do this.
Yes, it would spark outrage from more conservative corners. But it would also make a monumental difference to LGBTA people, both adults and kids, because as is said again and again and again and again: representation matters. Having long been critiqued for their cultural impact for better and worse, Disney knows this. And they are uniquely set up with a great breadth of properties and a great band of storytellers to make a movie that is not only wonderful but makes a difference. To steal from a newly acquired Disney/Marvel Avenger: with great power comes great responsibility. Between Marvel, Star Wars and their Disney Princesses, the Disney studio has a great deal of box office power. It’s just a matter of how they choose to use it.
Kristy Puchko can’t let it go.