Excluding The Rescuers Down Under and Fantasia 2000, Disney has avoided producing animated theatrical sequels. Of course they did put out a slew of needless direct-to-video sequels between 1994 and 2008. Seeing how Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film of all time and still has people singing along with the soundtrack, though, it isn’t surprising that Disney has a sequel in the works. It’s yet to be officially announced when Frozen 2 will hit theaters or what the plot will be. There have been rumors, however, that the story will focus on Elsa and her new love interest. This begs the question, should Elsa’s love interest be female?
That might sound like an odd question unless you know about the controversy that surrounded Frozen upon its release. Unlike some other Disney princesses, Elsa isn’t totally boy crazy. Granted, neither were Belle from Beauty and the Beast or Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. What sets Elsa apart from all the rest is that she never gets married. She doesn’t even have a flirtation with a man. Earning the love of her sister, Anna, is all that matters in the end. In a society that loves to overanalyze everything, some people theorized Elsa’s disinterest in the opposite sex means that she’s a lesbian.
It’s pretty obvious that Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee didn’t intend Elsa to be construed as gay, just as Stephen Hillenburg didn’t expect people to ship SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick together. Sure, Elsa doesn’t have a love interest, but that makes perfect sense seeing how she spends a majority of her life cooped up in isolation. One of the morals of Frozen is that the bond between siblings can be even stronger than a romance between a man and woman. While there is a romance between Anna and a mountain man named Kristoff, it’s the sisterly love that drives the film. You could argue that there’s a homosexual subtext behind Let it Go, but Elsa’s show-stopping number can be applied to any person that’s faced oppression and decides to embrace who they are.
So yeah, we’re probably reading too much into the notion that Elsa is gay even if there is some evidence. That being said, it wouldn’t at all be a bad thing if Disney made Elsa their first openly gay princess in Frozen 2. If anything, it would be the boldest, most progressive and most important move the studio could make right now. In today’s forward-thinking world, family-oriented entertainment has strived to present all demographics in a positive light, including homosexuals. Since the world is still full of ignorant people, though, artists have had to be very smart and sneaky in portraying gay characters.
For example, Albus Dumbledore’s love life is left ambiguous throughout the Harry Potter novels. With the release of the saga’s final book, however, J.K. Rowling made the announcement that Dumbledore was gay the entire time. Going back and reading all seven books, this revelation actually adds up. Dumbledore’s homosexuality hasn’t changed the way fans view him, though. If anything, this knowledge makes him an even more interesting and complete character.
Where Rowling always thought of Dumbledore as gay, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra initially developed their title heroine as heterosexual. Over the years, however, shippers felt that Korra had more chemistry with her best girlfriend, Asami, than any of her male love interests. The creators gave the fans what they wanted and had the two women get together in the series finale. They don’t profess their love out loud or kiss, but the image of them looking into each other’s eyes proved to be an empowering final image for feminism and homosexuality. To avoid this being interpreted as friendship, Korrasami has since been confirmed as canon on Twitter.
Gay characters are becoming more prevalent in mainstream animated features as well. In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Craig Ferguson’s Gobber gives incite into why he never married. In ParaNorman, Casey Affleck’s Mitch casually notes that he has a boyfriend, much to the disappointment to Anna Kendrick’s Courtney. They may not be major characters, but they do demonstrate the kind of progression we never would have seen in animated films ten years ago.
What’s significant about all the individuals listed above is that none of them are strictly written as homosexuals. In the past, gay characters typically had only one personality trait to work with: Being flamboyantly gay. Over time, however, gay characters have become much more varied. People like Dumbledore and Korra may be gay, but it’s not their homosexuality that defines who they are. Their physical attraction to the same-sex is just a small part of what makes them such memorable heroes. The decision to make them gay doesn’t feel like a cheap gimmick either, but rather a natural development that plays into their characters. The same could be said about Elsa if Disney has her pull an Ellen DeGeneres.
Seeing how Disney likes to avoid any potential controversy, they’ll likely play it safe and give Elsa a male love interest in in Frozen 2. Either that or she’ll just remain eternally single. Disney has been taking more risks lately, though, introducing a lesbian couple on Good Luck Charlie last year. Addressing Elsa’s potential homosexuality is another risk well worth taking. While her outing would unfortunately attract some hateful words from ignorant protesters, imagine all the good this move could do in the long run.
Elsa has become one of the most universally beloved characters of recent years, encouraging people everywhere to be themselves despite what others say. In a way, seeing an iconic role model like her come out would be almost as progressive as the US Supreme Court recently legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The world is changing and the past is in the past. Let’s bring Elsa’s character full circle and open a whole new door for family entertainment.
Of course if Disney can work out a deal with DreamWorks, it would also be cool to see Elsa hook up with Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians.