If there were ever a time for gay princesses, it’s now

As GLAAD releases its report on LGBT representation in film, fans push for a gay Disney princess

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

We've all heard of the Bechdel test by now, right? Few theories have been as useful for easily identifying prejudice as this simple quiz, one that asks you to consider films under the following criteria: 

Does it have two named women? 
Do the two women talk? 
Do the women talk about anything other than a man? 

The Bechdel test is so useful that GLAAD has developed its own for the inclusion of LGBT characters in film, and called it the Vito Russo test. The Vito Russo asks you to consider the following:

Does the film have a character that is identifiably LGBT?
Is the character defined by something other than their sexual orientation? 
Does the LGBT character serve the plot? 

In their 2016 Studio Responsibility Index, GLAAD assessed the top films of 2015 and graded each studio based on how well their films passed the Vito Russo test. The results are, to say the very least, depressing. Of the 126 top grossing films of last year, only 22 contained characters that identified as LGBT. Of those 22 characters, 77 per cent were gay men – leaving just 23 per cent lesbians, nine per cent bisexual and a dismal five per cent transgender. 

It's remarkable, really, and a testament to how conservative traditional filmmaking has become – or, perhaps, remained. Television has extended its reach to showing the stories of LGBT people (Transparent, Orange Is The New Black, Looking) and even big-budget network shows like CBS's The Good Wife are able to include characters who are sexually fluid. By comparison to the rest of popular culture, film is lagging behind desperately. In their report, GLAAD specifically calls out "gay panic humor" movies like Get Hard or The Wedding Ringer, where the straight male characters live in fear of homosexuality. That's not an exaggeration, either – Get Hard is literally a film about Will Ferrell trying to avoid gay sex in prison by employing a black guy to teach him to be tough. (I know.)

Within all these dismal facts and figures is an opportunity. GLAAD states that "both Paramount and the Walt Disney Studio completely excluded LGBT characters in their 2015 film slates". And Disney fans have already come up with a solution: give Elsa a girlfriend. 

If Disney were going to start anywhere with their introduction of LGBT characters, Princess Elsa feels like the ideal place to start. Elsa's Let It Go, which essentially espouses the virtues of being yourself, has already been interpreted by many fans as Disney's LGBT torch song. Unlike her sister, Anna, Elsa has never been paired romantically with any male characters, so it's not like it would be a massive departure to imagine her as a lesbian. 

Come on, Disney. Give Elsa a girlfriend. At the very least, it'll be another princess doll to put on the shelves for Christmas. 


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women in film

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