A New LGBT Champion? Jennifer Lee Could Make History By Making Elsa From "Frozen" The First Openly Gay Disney Character
The trending #GiveElsaAGirlfriend hashtag could finally come into fruition in November 2019 when the sequel to Disney hit Frozen opens in theaters, thanks the box office hit's co-director, Jennifer Lee.
Jennifer is part of the duo that penned and directed the animation powerhouse's 53rd and most successful production to date. While most of us might remember Frozen for its Idina Menzel-performed chart-topper "Let It Go," the film's story made it equally memorable, and all the more groundbreaking.
#Regram @joshgad: “Nothing is more exciting than getting back in the booth with this incredible team. Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez along with John Lasseter and the amazing people at @disneyanimation have created a story that carries on the incredible legacy of the original #Frozen and continues to build and expand on the characters and themes in new and exciting ways. Unfortunately, that’s all I can tell you right now. But, rest assured #Frozen2 is on the way and is going to be special. 11.27.19”
To jog your memory, Frozen tells the story of the two princess of the royal family that rule the land of Arendelle. Princesses Anna and Elsa live happy and carefree lives, until Elsa discovers her great ability to manipulate snow and ice—a power she suppresses rather than masters when her parents admit that she was born "different."
Fearing that she was never going to be accepted in her kingdom for who she really was, Elsa runs away and builds an icy castle where she prepares for lifelong solitude. Her loving sister Anna goes on a dangerous and magical mission to find her and convince her that being different is alright, not a curse. In fact, there is a kingdom desperately awaiting her return.
The film climaxes in Elsa's acceptance of herself, belting out the words children and adults know by heart: "I don't care what they're going to say, let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. Let it go, let it go, can't hold it back anymore, let it go, let it go..."
It was the first Disney movie to successfully portray female leads as having their own agency and decisiveness. While there were supporting male characters in the story, no prince charming or knight in shining armor was needed to help yet another Disney princess resolve conflict or find lasting happiness. Frozen was also the first Disney love story driven by familial love, rather than a heterosexual romance.
With Jennifer manning the helm of this ship, Disney's first authentic feminist icon was born. And now that a sequel is in the works, adult lovers of the film are pushing her to take it a step further by making Elsa the first Disney character to have a same-sex relationship.
The strongly recommended plotline stems from how the LGBTQ community has interpreted "Let It Go" as a "coming out anthem." While it was primarily written to express the feelings of an outcast princess who had finally come to terms with herself, the lyrics do seem applicable in coming to terms with homosexuality and queerness. The song's main message, after all, was to accept you for you without holding back, without letting others feed your insecurities and devalue you, no matter what.
These interpretations have even given birth to trending hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend that first surfaced in 2016, as well as an online petition to make Elsa Disney's first openly gay character that has received more than 2,000 signatures to date.
After keeping their fingers crossed and holding their breath for years, the LGBTQ community had finally heard back from Jennifer in February: "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," she said during an interview with HuffPost.
"Where we’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things," Jennifer continued, as she acknowledged the many requests for a lesbian Elsa, as well as an overall more inclusive and progressive Disney.
Jennifer is blessed with the creative freedom to steer Elsa in that direction, but the final say will still come from the animation studio's execs who, for too long, have been criticized for encouraging narrow and outdated perceptions of what it means to be an independent woman with control of her own fate. Regardless, Jennifer appears to be open-minded about developing a gay character, and is supported by the celebrity voice actors that helped bring the film to life.
the possibility that disney may (however small the realistic possibility may be) #GiveElsaAGirlfriend makes child-me want to cry. if i had that representation as a kid i might have been spared the years of confusion and feeling of not belonging ??♥?— ellie (@stupefys) March 1, 2018
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because representation matters. Cuz u can teach children acceptance, how to love, to not bully others because of their differences, how to have an open mind and not judge others, and to accept and be comfortable with their own sexual and gender orientation.— Isa (@IsaParadox) February 27, 2018
I will definitely take my children to see Frozen 2. #GiveElsaagirlfriend— Hiliary (@hilham2006) March 3, 2018
Idina Menzel, for instance, has said, "Deep down am I really happy that it’s causing people to talk about it and have these kinds of conversations? Yeah, I am," according to an interview with PrideSource. The actress and broadway star also expressed her enthusiasm in America making big strides towards inclusivity—which extends to telling LGBTQ stories in pop culture—and her willingness to be part of projects that support this movement.
"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," ended Jennifer, keeping us at the edge of our seats.
Many things can happen between now and the film's theatrical release more than a year from today, and until then, we'll continue to hope for the best for Jennifer and her team. In light of all the cultural and social changes reforming America's entertainment industry as a whole, who knows? Even a pillar like Disney could acquiesce with individuals like Jennifer paving the way for them to do so.
Frozen was the first Disney film to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and also broke Guinness World Records by becoming the highest-grossing animated film, ringing in an estimate of $1.3 billion. Jennifer's latest project is book adaptation, A Wrinkle In Time, which is being praised for its diverse cast among other things.
Now, will Jennifer help Frozen make history—again—by giving Disney it's first homosexual lead?