10:15 am EDT, May 4, 2016

Why #GiveElsaAGirlfriend went viral, and why Disney should listen

It's high time Disney introduced an LGBT character - and Queen Elsa is an ideal candidate.

A fantastic new campaign is urging Disney to give Frozen heroine Elsa a female love interest in the sequel.

Earlier this week, we wrote about the annual GLAAD report, which revealed the uncomfortable truth that not only is Hollywood vastly underrepresenting the LGBT community, but two major studios — Paramount and Disney — failed to include any LGBT characters in their major 2015 movies.

As a response to this, Feminist Culture founder Alexis Isabel Moncada tweeted a simple suggestion to help Disney fix the problem, which has since gone viral:

The socially aware teen saw so much positive response to this one, simple request, which has transformed into a major movement over the course of a couple of days. In an article for MTV, Moncada explains why she decided to take up this issue:

“Growing up, I never saw a princess fall in love with another princess — and neither have girls growing up right now. The entertainment industry has given us girls who have fallen in love with beasts, ogres who fall for humans, and even grown women who love bees. But we’ve never been able to see the purity in a queer relationship.”

This isn’t the first time someone has suggested that Frozen‘s Elsa might be Disney’s first canonically lesbian princess (or queen, in this case).

In Frozen, the central ‘love story’ is not romantic at all, but rather about the love between two sisters. And, while Anna finds love with Kristoff, Elsa’s life is decidedly romance-free.

Of course Elsa has a lot more to worry about than cute boys (or girls), but in Frozen 2, she’s already the Queen of Arendelle. Perhaps there’s finally time for romance in her life — and as evidenced by the popularity of Moncada’s #GiveElsaAGirlfriend campaign, many fans think this romance should be with another female.


Credit: Izzie Bytes

When it comes to portraying LGBT characters (something Disney seriously needs to do, and soon), the strong, sexy, empowered and independent Elsa is an obvious candidate. She’s a popular, established character, she’s hitherto romantically unattached, and is not ‘bound’ to any canonical love interest from the story on which she is based (another candidate for Disney would be Star Wars’ Poe Dameron, as Hypable has previously argued).

She becomes an even more obvious choice when you consider what Moncada so succinctly points out: That the LGBT community is already strongly connected to Elsa’s story in Frozen.

“Many in the LGBT community view this movie as a metaphor for the experience of coming out and accepting who you are,” writes Moncada, explaining why her hashtag went viral so fast.

As Queen Elsa is already an LGBT icon, establishing her sexuality as non-straight would be hugely significant for LGBT audiences of all ages, giving them a strong, iconic role model to look up to and reflect themselves in. And, just as importantly, it would give straight parents a way to talk about sexuality with their children, and to help teach them that — just like Elsa and Anna — people are equally deserving of love, agency and representation whether they fall in love with a man or a woman.

Related: Not everyone was happy about Once Upon a Time’s LGBT couple

Of course, as expected, the dissenters of #GiveElsaAGirlfriend have all the usual counter-arguments: It’s pandering to the gay community, there’s no ‘reason’ to make her a lesbian, it’s all part of some kind of ‘agenda,’ and the Frozen audience is somehow ‘too young’ to handle a same-sex love story.

But in reality it’s all very, painfully simple: LGBT people exist in real life, all around you, all the time. Sometimes they’re someone’s mom or dad, and by and large, kids don’t actually care whether their classmates have two mommies or daddies, or one of each — unless their parents tell them to care, that is.

And Disney, for all its talk of equality, is in dire need of LGBT representation in its movies. In GLAAD’s report, it is noted that “the film industry must embrace new stories reflective of the actual world if it wants to remain competitive and relevant,” and while Hollywood’s outdated and conservative approach to representation may be working right now, the popularity of campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite and Moncada’s #GiveElsaAGirlfriend proves that audiences are ready for the movie industry to join us in the 21st century.

It is going to look very bad for Disney very fast if they continue their tactic of LGBT erasure. Making Elsa a lesbian would not only be a major step towards fixing this huge stain on their brand, but it would also do a lot to prove to those suffering from what GLAAD calls “gay panic,” proving once and for all that it’s not the end of the world to feature an LGBT protagonist (a hero in a position of authority, even) in a family movie.

tl;dr: Sometimes princesses love princes, and sometimes they love other princesses. We need to stop being afraid of acknowledging that this is an indisputable truth, which deserves recognition by mainstream media. Let’s evolve, already.

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