Back in fall 2013, Frozen broke new ground for Disney. It was a blockbuster musical undergirded by feminism. The icy epic jettisoned a typical romantic trajectory in favor of a love story centered around sisterhood. By the time Anna saves Elsa, millions of little girls realized for the first time that they don’t need a man to rescue them–literally and figuratively.
Ever since Disney announced an inevitable sequel, some of the film’s fans have been clamoring for another Disney first: an honest-to-goodness LGBT princess. (Ursula from The Little Mermaid doesn’t count.) This week, the writer and co-director of the forthcoming film has given them hope.
In an interview with HuffPo, Jennifer Lee, who also wrote next week’s A Wrinkle In Time adaptation, revealed that she is open to giving Elsa a female love interest in Frozen 2.
“I love everything people are saying [and] people are thinking about with our film―that it’s creating dialogue, that Elsa is this wonderful character that speaks to so many people,” Lee said in response to reporter Bill Bradley’s question on the topic.
“Where we’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things. For me . . . Elsa’s every day telling me where she needs to go, and she’ll continue to tell us. I always write from character-out, and where Elsa is and what Elsa’s doing in her life, she’s telling me every day. We’ll see where we go.”
That’s an awful lot of hedging. You don’t have to read between the lines of Lee’s extremely careful wording to deduce that Elsa is probably not going to come out as the Lesbian Queen of Arendelle in Frozen 2. But if, if it turns out that what Elsa tells Lee she’s doing in her life is confirming that “Let It Go” is indeed a coming-out anthem, it would be a monumental step for Disney. Although the company has had Gay Days at its theme parks since at least 1991, it has yet to put a single certifiably gay character in one of its animated films. (Again, Timon and Pumba do not count.) Making Elsa LGBT in a property as hotly (coldly?) anticipated as Frozen 2 would mean incurring the wrath of the boycott-happy religious right–the people who refuse to buy wedding cakes from gay bakers.
Although the film will be a blockbuster even if it’s just Elsa and Anna making snow angels for two hours, Disney would knowingly lose a fraction of its audience by giving Elsa a girlfriend. The most family-friendly studio on the planet would be inviting a boycott. But perhaps the bean-counters involved can be made to understand the right-side-of-history significance of this kind of inclusivity. It will happen in a Disney movie eventually–why not send a message by doing it with one of the studio’s most beloved properties? It’s time the studio let its heteronormativity go.