Here’s a fun fact about me: Love is my religion. Even when the dogmatic Catholicism I was raised in seemed too over-the-top or out-of-touch, I always saw value in respecting the hopes, desires and beliefs of others (so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else). A big part of that, for me, has been celebrating and fighting for marriage equality and the gay and transgender rights.
Deep breath, because here’s where it gets Disney: While it’s never bothered me that there are no explicitly or openly gay or non-cisgendered characters in Disney films (and, let’s be honest, even the ambiguously “different” characters, like Scar or Jafar, are largely coded and based on harmful and negative stereotypes), I do recognize the lack of these characters. And I absolutely recognize the hostile, trans- and queerphobic jokes that pepper these films (like when Timon and Pumba accidentally kiss and then act ashamed in The Lion King) and implant anti-queer rhetoric in the popular culture. I also recognize that these facts are both dangerous and disheartening for an increasingly queer (and even-more increasingly alienated) generation of LGBTQ Americans and their supporters.
(And no comments about how Disney films aren’t about love or sexuality, please–nearly every single Disney film revolves around or heavily features a heterosexual romance and ends with the all-important heterosexual kiss or marriage.)
But even given all of this, I never really put too much stock in the theory that Elsa is gay. A quick primer for those who slept through this particular kerfluffle: Many gay rights activists believe that Let It Go is an empowering coming out anthem that celebrates escaping the closet. Add that to the fact that, while Anna has plenty of love interests, Elsa has not-a-one, and you get an interesting argument.
I see the point and understand the desire to see yourself reflected in something you love; but I also think it’s a pretty big leap to assume that these facts add up to Elsa being a lesbian. I don’t love the idea of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding queer Disney characters. If a character is out and proud, I want to know about it. Explicitly. Only then will I celebrate it.
So while I don’t see any real, affirmative evidence that Elsa is queer, I am totally on board if she is, in fact, gay. And I want to know about it! That’s why I absolutely LOVE the twitter campaign that started last week, which is spreading with the hashtag GiveElsaGirlfriend. As far as I can tell, it all started with this tweet:
— Alexis Isabel (@lexi4prez) May 1, 2016
But the movement has grown over the past seven days in ways that make me excited for a future where being queer isn’t something kids need to “learn about” (because it’s just a common part of life) and hopeful for coming generations of young, queer men and women who will someday be able to see themselves in Disney stories and maybe begin to realize that they’re not really so different after all.
What do you think of Elsa’s coming out party? Will you be in attendance? Let us know in the comments–but please note, inflammatory or hateful speech will be marked as spam and deleted. Keep it kind and civilized, please.
And if you want to learn more or discuss the topic further, I’d encourage you to read Kristy Puchko’s article over on Pajiba. She’s one of my favorite Internet writers, and she tackles this with respect and compassion … and makes some really awesome points that I didn’t make here!