By Katja Montesque
“There could be a gay Disney princess coming soon!”
If you haven't heard this before, you have probably been living under a rock. For the past two years, multiple articles have been written regarding the possibility of there being a gay Disney princess, with the most popular choice being Queen Elsa from the movie Frozen.
I am not here to discuss the likelihood of there actually being LGBTA+ representation in the most popular producer of children's movies. Unfortunately, I do not possess the gift of divination (if I did I would have won the lottery by now, and would no longer be in a 9-5).
What this article really is about, is about the importance of LBGTA+ representation in popular media, especially that aimed at children. Here come the eye-rolls, the grunts, the scoffs, and worse still, the outrage and mockery. “Why does everything have to be gay?” “But what about the children?!” “This is getting out of control!” I’m sure you have seen comments like this on Facebook posts vaguely related to this. Personally, it grinds my gears.
Comments like this, imply that the LBGTA+ community is obsessed with turning everything “gay”. They imply that being anything other than heterosexual and cis-gendered, is not only contagious, but morally wrong. These comments suggest that LGBTA+ people wanting representation, is preposterous, and somehow inconvenient. But, they somehow forget how every single epic romantic movie has as its main couple a man and a woman. It seems to overlook the fact that every single Disney princess (with the exception of Moana and Merida) are husband crazy girls, who ended up in heterosexual relationships. It overlooks the fact that LGBTA+ children ALSO watch Disney movies, and that some of those children will already be questioning their sexuality.
Let’s address this bit by bit:
1. But the children will be confused!” Well, the thing is, the children will be fine. Children do not have prejudices. Let me tell you a little anecdote. One summer’s evening a few years ago, the topic of homosexuality came up at home during dinner. My 5 year old sister asked us what “gay” meant. There was a 5 second silence, until i turned around and said “Being gay is when men fancy men, and women fancy women” (I tried to explain this as simply as I could, as I wasn’t sure how many terms she could remember at once). Her response? “Ah okay”, followed by her continuing to eat her dinner. Children aren’t stupid, and they aren’t prejudiced.
2. “Why does everything have to be gay?” Funnily enough, it doesn’t. Nobody is trying to make everything gay, what the LGBTA+ community is asking for, is for a little representation. How many Disney characters can you name, that are either LGBTA+ or present traits that are
traditionally associated with the LGBTA+ community? Okay, and now how many of those characters can you name, which are not ridiculed or used for comedic relief? Not many. Representation is key, it enables children who are LGBTA+, and who watch these movies, to realise that they are not alone, that they are not weird, and that it is okay to be your true self. We already have plenty of straight Disney couples and characters, having a few LGBTA+ ones
won’t harm anyone.
3. “But if children see LGBTA+ characters, they will become gay!” You don’t just become gay, you are born gay. Watching Elsa hold hands with, or kiss another woman, won’t make your daughter a lesbian. At some point in their lives, your children will be exposed to a member of the
LGBTA+ community, and they will have questions. You can’t just ban the entire LGBTA+ community from going anywhere near your child, that would be silly and logistically unfeasible. And, frankly, LGBTA+ people have been raised around heterosexual media and that didn’t make them any more heterosexual, so I’m not sure where you’d be getting these ideas from.
4. “Children are far too young to be understanding about sex and sexuality”. Not really, no. I mean, how many times has a 6 year old boy had a crush on a 6 year old girl, and you’ve been totally cool with that? Well, it’s the same for LGBTA+ children, because being LGBTA+ is not solely about sexual intercourse and desire (that’s probably your prejudice speaking). LGBTA+ children often recognise their sexual orientation from a very young age.
5. “But think about the children!” We are, that’s why we want LGBTA+ representation in children’s movies. Having that representation could make a world of difference to an LGBTA+ child. Seeing an LGBTA+ character that people love and admire, who also achieves a successful romantic relationship, has the power to make that LGBTA+ child understand that they are loved and accepted for who they are. This would decrease the risk of depression and anxiety that LGBTA+ children often face, in fear or social rejection. It would also make them less confused, as it would teach them that being something other than straight is a valid possibility, and that it’s not weird, that there are other people who are not heterosexual. It’s a message of acceptance.
In conclusion, having an LGBTA+ Disney character is not going to harm or confuse your child, in fact, it will most likely have the opposite effect.