Should Disney start representing different sexualities?

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This week in the social media world, #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend was trending, and fans have also been calling for Elsa, of Frozen fame, to be the first gay Disney princess. There seems to be a call for Disney to diversify their films, in terms of representing LGBT+ within them.

For a lot of LGBT+ people, this would be a huge deal in terms of normalising LGBT+ culture. There are still countless stereotypes and a lot of stigma and discrimination – just look at the recent bathroom laws in America and the assumptions made about LGBT+ people on a day to day basis.

Growing up, for most people, they don’t see same sex relationships as wrong until they’re taught otherwise; until they hear other people’s prejudices. Throughout our childhoods there is a huge amount of heteronormative behaviour directed at children – something as simple as a boy and girl playing together can prompt ‘oooh is that your boyfriend?!’ from the adults. Despite them joking, it doesn’t help to break down the commonly held assumption that all people are straight.

I can’t help but feel that when Disney first do with blatant and obvious LGBT+ representation; all discussion of the film will be based around that rather than the narrative content. A lot of argument against this is based around the fact that, according to studies, less people identify as LGBT+ than those who identify as heterosexual. However, according to a recent US (America, not our union) review, there are about 9 million LGBT+ people – about the size of New Jersey.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) is one of the most reliable sources on what people in Britain do in private, and has happened every 10 years since 1990, asking what “best describes how you think of yourself”: a) heterosexual/straight; b) gay/lesbian; c) bisexual, d) other?. From the age range of 16-74, only 4.4% identified as LGB. But should this low LGBT+ score for the country mean that LGBT+ representation isn’t necessary in media? Of course not.

LGBT+ TV like The L Word has proved popular, especially amongst LGBT+ people. LGBT+ Disney will teach children that it is normal and hopefully encourage more people to come out without as much fear of rejection from their loved ones and society in general. An LGBT+ film could be done as a princess coming to terms with her sexuality, or it could just be… done. A princess is saved by a female. Two princesses kiss. Like it’s completely normal. Because it is.

Looking to the planned Frozen 2, if Elsa does come out, then it should be just as normal as her not being saved by a man but by her sister. Looking at the progress that has been made for LGBT+ acceptance and rights even in the last decade, to have LGBT+ representation in something as culturally significant as Disney- it would do so much for generations to come. People these days are still against LGBT+ people, but looking at how much has been achieved, I don’t think it’s extreme to think that our generation or the next will change how LGBT+ people are viewed even further; Disney could go a long way to helping with this. If Deadpool can be pansexual, why can’t a princess?
It would be incredible for future children to watch a film about a transgender prince or princess, a non-binary person who doesn’t want to be referred to as a prince or princess, a person on the ace spectrum who doesn’t want to be romanced, girls kissing girls in a film made by one of the biggest film companies in the world.
And in turn, for there to be a generation of children who come home one day saying ‘I met a girl/boy/person today’ and for the parents to just accept that how they’d accept it from a straight child, not for people to live in fear of coming out.
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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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