The very first films we, as children, watch are the beloved Disney Pixar Animated films. These movies are the very first interaction a kid experiences, with the world. Perhaps that is the reason that all of the Disney Animations try to teach us about things from all walks of life. One very important aspect of life, The LGBTQ+ community and a person’s sexual orientation, has not been explored much by Disney. But there are a few Disney characters who are hinted to be Queer; and also a few of them that are based on the personalities of significant members of the community:
1. Elsa (Frozen, 2013)
Frozen has been one of the most successful Disney movie of all time. It was different and unique and steered clear of the stereotypical “Prince charming to the rescue” theme. Instead of the Snow Queen’s romantic relationships, the movie focused more on her internal struggle and journey self-actualization and acceptance.
Her entire journey of exploring her powers and accepting them, instead of suppressing them; can be seen as a parallel of exploring her sexuality and accepting herself for who she is. Elsa’s theme song ‘Let It Go’ became famous as the ‘Coming out anthem’ all over the world. And thus began the fan speculations; “Is Elsa a Lesbian?”
Although Disney left out romantic relations from Elsa’s life in both the movies, us fans like to think that her friendship with Honeymaren in Frozen 2, was a great place to start, and we are still hopeful.
2. Genie (Aladdin, 1992)
The exuberantly magical Genie, from the movie Aladdin, is probably the best example of a Queer person. He is very clearly a gender-bending bag of sass who is continuously in and out of drag and has a vast pop culture knowledge. The fans have attributed all these traits to the LGBTQ+ community; and we can’t help but love Genie and his inner queer even more than we already did!
3. Jafar (Aladdin, 1992)
The cunning villian, Jafar, from the movie Aladdin, has a certain panache and poise to his personality. With his thin Van-Dyke beard, dark lids with a hint of eye-shadow, the perfect winged eye-liner and the decision of adorning robes and a cape (unlike all the other men who wear pants), the character has made a lot of fans correlate all this to his sexuality.
In addition to this, the lead animator on Jafar, Andreas Deja, is openly gay and also admits to conceiving the character of Jafar as a gay man, to bring out his elegant, theatrical side!
4. LeFou (Beauty and the Beast, 2010, 2017)
In 2017, when the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast was released, we got to see the first ‘Explicitly Gay’ character: LeFou. The goofy sidekick of the butch villain Gaston has a certain admiration for Gaston.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.” – said Director Bill Condon while in talks with Attitude magazine.
5. Merida (Brave, 2012)
2012’s Brave introduced us with a very powerful female lead in a Disney movie: Merida; who is acutely speculated to be a lesbian. She is independent & strong-willed; and does not bother herself with following “societal norms”. Her love for archery and adventure are absolutely poles apart from the hobbies of other Disney princesses. This contrasting personality of Merida and the fact that she is always told to behave in a “certain way” is all too relatable to the LGBTQ+ audience; who have personally experienced the feeling of “not like other kids” while growing up.
Merida’s sexuality is left ambiguous; but a few instances from the movie, like her ‘freedom to marry whomever she wants’ speech; can be seen as subtle hints to recognize and accept the internal Queer personality of Merida.
6. Oaken (Frozen, 2013)
The ever-progressive film Frozen has yet another Queer character, albeit in a Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene. The burly but sweet owner of the Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna: The dearest Oaken!
In the film, While Kristoff haggles for the price of the stuff he’s buying, Oaken, instead of reducing the price, offers a free use of the Sauna. And that’s when he turns towards the Sauna door and says “Yoo-Hoo, Hi Family”; and his family, consisting of a blonde guy and 4 children peep from the glass and wave! This fleeting moment was a clear indication that Oaken is in a same-sex relationship and they are lovingly raising 4 awesome children! Isn’t that the sweetest?
7. Scar (The Lion King, 1994)
We have all watched The Lion King like a million times! Our heart always goes out to Simba every time Scar plays his little games. But did you ever spot the subtle signs added by the makers that hint at Scar being a Queer? Many fans feel that the sassiness in Scar’s voice, his lean physique, and Drag-resembling sharp facial features are all signs that Scar is Gay!
All these personality traits of Scar regarding his sexuality have been ‘Queer Coded‘ throughout the film and left to the audiences’ interpretation.
8. Ursula (The Little Mermaid, 1989)
The Little Mermaid is one of the most iconic Disney movie to be made. And just as iconic is the flamboyant Vamp of this film: Ursula. The Producer and lyricist of The Little Mermaid, Howard Ashman, has confirmed that the final idea for the character of Ursula was extremely similar to the Drag Queen persona of late Harris Milstead; Divine! Unfortunately Divine passed away in 1988, a few months before the release of The Little Mermaid; or he would have played the part himself.
Who’s to say that being inspired by the Drag Queen Divine; Ursula did not also take on similar traits and is a proud part of the LGBTQ+ community? We say she definitely is!
All of these characters from the past are absolute proof that Disney is attempting to include the LGBTQ+ theme in their animated films, even if they are being subtle and indirect about it. Although not all of these are major characters; and a very few are explicitly confirmed to be LGBTQ+; it’s still a start. And we know for a fact that Disney is becoming more and more inclusive and open about characters and their sexualities; as they recently released their first ever openly-gay animated character; Officer Specter in the movie Onward! Its truly a big step for Disney Pixar and the LGBTQ+ community.