By Brendan Schaller
This week, an article circulated stating that Disney will release its first animated film to feature two openly gay princes. Based off a children’s book, the story follows two princes who seek to rescue a princess and fall in love with each other in the process. The article turned out to be a fake, but the reactions were not.
The piece featured fake reactions from a religious group, which likened the release of such a film to a sign of the apocalypse. The fake group questioned, “What’s next? Will we teach children that bestiality is okay?” to which an fake response from a “Disney spokesperson” pointed out films like The Princess and The Frog, Beauty and The Beast, and The Little Mermaid, already touched upon these topics. The article was described as satire, but what was the target – the idea of a same-sex love story in a fairy-tale, or the society we currently live in where such a thing is still considered taboo?
Consider the release of such a film. Disney films are worldwide sensations, with top-notch marketing teams. Families would flood theaters. There would be endless merchandising opportunities and dolls would be sold of the two princes. Young children would be exposed to the idea that two people can fall in love without being a white male and female. Oh, the horror!
I don’t remember when I learned about homosexuality. Or when my knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of all kinds of love began to develop. I don’t remember my parents telling me about such things when I was young. I don’t remember asking in the first place. I was always vaguely aware of it, but never questioned it. Many children do question it, and the answers they get from their parents can be the foundation of their idea of love. Wouldn't it be nice if something as accessible, enjoyable, innocent, and timeless as a Disney fairy tale could create such an accepting foundation? What if we all grew up seeing the vast possibilities of human love?
The reactions from blog sites and people sharing the article on Facebook were all positive. They were all with the tone of, “it’s about time!” And it is. How far away are we, in reality, to a Disney film that features a same-sex couple? Maybe it’s already happened but it wasn't explicitly stated. I think the majority of us are already there, and maybe something as innocent and timeless as a Disney film is the way to do it. When a child can look at such a relationship and find nothing strange about it that could be the wake-up call to an adult that does. Children don’t see things like homophobia or racism until it’s presented to them. A generation of open-minded children grows into a society of acceptance, and I think we are a little closer to that every day.
As a corporation, Disney has been supportive of LGBT rights and acceptance, and I would bet that the only thing holding back the release of such a film is portion of society that has yet to come around. One day, we’ll have our two gay princes. The satire is not in the idea that such a film could be release, it’s that this hasn't already happened.