Originally posted 2 May 2016
Frozen just seems like one of those things that, no matter how much I try to forget it, always seems to come back to annoy me just because it can. So, if you’re like me (which if you are, I am so so sorry) and you were just on Twitter trying to think of something clever to tweet rolled up in your sheets at 5 in the morning and you ventured into the Moments tab, you would have seen a very interesting and important topic trending under Pop Culture.
Apparently, people are clamoring for Elsa to be Disney’s first LGBT+ princess with the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend. Now, unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, you’d know that representation in the media with regards to sexuality, race, and gender has been a huge topic among pop culture enthusiasts like myself. With the overwhelming majority of characters in books, TV, and film being of a paler, straighter, maler demographic, it’s no wonder that people now, more than ever, are demanding representation in their entertainment.
While I’m all for the inclusion of LGBT+ characters in children’s film and literature, I can’t ignore the glaring issue with this hashtag and the way it ignores race. And before you roll your eyes and get all huffy, it’s in the title; you knew this was coming.
I know that somewhere on the World Wide Web, quite a few people have probably already written a think piece about the intersection of race and sexuality with this hashtag, and someone’s commented about “Why can’t you just be happy that LGBT+ people are getting representation lol”.
Well, here’s why.
White people (and white women especially) are not hurting for representation when it comes to portrayals of sex or sexuality (positive or otherwise) especially with regards to media that claims the “feminist” moniker; Lena Dunham’s nudity on Girls is it’s own thing, not a scene goes by in Game of Thrones where a white woman’s titty is not flopping about on my screen, and Jessica Jones’s “relationship” with Luke Cage was appalling.
There have been tons of white wlw on television, spanning several years: Tara Maclay from Buffy (2002), Franky Doyle from Prisoners (1980), Delphine from Orphan Black (2015), Jeri Hogarth, Wendy Ross-Hogarth, and Pam from Jessica Jones (all three LGBT characters in one show are ALL white women!!!) (2015), Charlie Bradbury from Supernatural (2015), Clarke and Lexa from the 100 (2015-16), etc., and it’s not like white women overall are hurting for representation as leads either (below post by chuckducky74 on Tumblr):
Now, you might notice the running theme of “Dead is the new Alive” with a lot of the previously mentioned wlw characters, but that is not the main concern right now, because frankly straight POC are lucky if they live even on shows where they’re the leads (here’s lookin’ at you, Shitty Hollow). Members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are ALSO people of color need and want representation just as much as their white counterparts, if not more so, young children of color are also in need of positive representations of their race as well as their sexuality, and WOC are also in dire need of representation because we make up an even smaller percentage of The 22%. #GiveElsaAGirlfriend ignores all of that in favor of yet another white, female lead representing and being a “role model” to and for the whole of women and the LGBT+ community. I sent out a series of tweets where I talked about this; Frozen has taken up enough undeserved space since its 2013 release, but it seems like fans – white feminists – aren’t satisfied with just erasing Elsa and Anna’s POC predecessors Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana – because Frozen was not the first Disney Princess movie to showcase women not being saved by men – but now the have decided that it needs to take up more space for white women in the LGBT Representation department as well.
However, it seems like fans are somewhat aware of the need for representation of WOC because a popular image that comes up repeatedly with the hashtag is a picture of Elsa with Queen Marisol of Eldora, who is possibly Hispanic or Latin@. Why does the possibility of queer POC representation – and POC representation in general – only come into consciousness when there’s a possible connection to a white character? What exactly is stopping people from advocating for a film starring an original queer character of color?
Another point that I think is important to note is the fact that no other sexualities are really represented in media period. White gay and lesbian characters, like white people in media overall, have made up and continue to make up the majority of the representation of the LGBT community. With the exception of Korrasami, I’ve never seen bisexual characters of color in media, I don’t think Ace/aro characters exist anywhere in TV and film, and the only pansexual I know of that’s had a movie in my lifetime is Deadpool, and the filmmakers kind of glossed over that anyway.
Elsa getting a girlfriend will not truly be a significant step forward in terms of representation because it will still prioritize white women over everyone else. If Disney Diehards want representation for the LGBT+ community (which we most certainly do) then I insist on petitioning Disney to create a Disney Princess who is visibly, definitively a WOC (no ambiguously brown non-sense) and is also definitively queer (no hints, no suggestive glances, no queer-baiting period, NO SURPRISE REVEALS!!!). Heck, make the prince gay!!! All I want is for people to step out of the mindset of “white first, everything else is an afterthought”, and consider plural forms of representation.