Is Disney…. Frozen In Time? (Why Elsa Will Always Be A Lesbian To Me)
By Katie Golway
I was thrilled when #GiveElsaAGirlfriend began to trend. I saw it as a sign for positive change in the media, for normalizing inclusivity. I was crushed by my co-workers’ open scoffing at the idea. It was a screenwriting lecture I attended the following week that fostered my hope.
My professor mentioned It is impossible to police the imagination of an audience. Elsa, amongst other Disney characters, identifies within the LGBTQA community because of the people who love them.
Fiction belongs primarily to the people receiving it. Publishing a story is handing your work over to those who will immerse themselves in a new world. If there is a character who resonates with someone, no one has the right to take that representation from them. I once fought with a former friend of mine when she said it was “ridiculous” for me to see Princess Anna as bisexual. I explained that I saw Anna as someone with endless love to give everyone - therefore she would not see issue with whom she chose to give it. Anna manifests the very meaning of what love is. To me, she still does. Fiction is malleable. Fiction is an escape.
People have theorized and dissected the words of Jane Austen and Shakespeare for lifetimes. I spent a majority of my college career doing the same. While Disney falls under the realm of fiction, as well, it is often treated as a genre of its own. Are people still concerned that children seeing a spectrum of identities in their favorite characters will change their own? I would like to challenge this idea, as I have never spent a day as heterosexual as the content my generation consumed as children.
Children absorb what they are offered. If they were to be exposed to a variety of representation in their media, such as cartoons or the musicians they adore, they would not blink an eye. Disney Channel is making strides by featuring two mothers on Good Luck Charlie and a gay character on their new hit show Andi Mack. From the research I have done, watchers embraced the new characters.
Inclusion does seem a distant dream in the current political climate. However, by utilizing social media as we have, Disney fans have managed to get the attention of supportive cast members. Attention was brought to characters such as Moana and Merida, who pursue their journeys without a love interest at all. The voice of Elsa, herself – Idina Menzel – encouraged the idea of Elsa courting another woman, as did Frozen director Jennifer Lee.
From a personal standpoint, “Let It Go” forever represents my own journey in coming to terms with my sexuality. Frozen came out around the same time that I did. My parents encouraged me to “be straight” and therefore hide my true identity. Elsa’s story mirrors these unfortunate choices. As I have come to terms with my situation, I have realized that my parents were speaking on a lack of knowledge. The same is true of the King and Queen for their own magical daughter. Both my favorite character and I have made positive strides despite the disapproval of the people we love. I do not need a confirmation in the sequel for me to see Elsa as a gay woman. I have embraced her growth as my own. I encourage others who enjoy fiction to do the same.