Culture

'Frozen' Director Considering Giving Elsa a Lesbian Girlfriend in the Sequel

The princess Elsa, Disney promotional image. (http://frozen.disney.com/gallery?)

“Frozen 2” is scheduled to hit theaters next year, and writer/director Jennifer Lee has signaled that she is considering making a main character, Elsa, lesbian. Luckily for Disney’s bottom-line, however, she hasn’t committed to an LGBT endorsement of that magnitude just yet.

“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 told HuffPost. “It means the world to us that we’re part of these conversations.”

These conversations trace back years. After “Frozen” came out in 2013, some suggested Elsa’s famous song “Let It Go” was an “LGBT anthem.” The Guardian‘s Dorian Lynskey suggested it was a “coming-out anthem for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

The lyrics, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know/ Well now they know!” and “Let it go, let it go/ Can’t hold it back anymore,” could be seen as echoing the LGBT movement’s emphasis on self-discovery and self-disclosure, but the context suggests better explanations. Even Lynskey admitted that Elsa’s anthem of freedom is a “moment of dark irony,” since her liberation means lifelong solitude and eternal winter for everyone else. It is teenage angst personified, and in the context of the story, a complex moral moment.

Since “Frozen” did not make Elsa explicitly lesbian, a petition on Change.org asking Disney to explicitly do so garnered 2,600 signatures. “Pretty much everyone is fairly sure that Queen Elsa of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is a lesbian woman, and almost everyone (including her voice actress, Indina Menzel) wants this in Frozen and you have supported the LGBT community for years!! Please make this victory for us!!!” insisted Kijani Schubert, the petition’s author.

After the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend hashtag went viral on Twitter in 2016, Menzel said, “deep down am I really happy that it’s causing people to think about it and have these kinds of conversations? Yeah, I am.”

Even this statement does not appear to be a ringing endorsement, however. Lee, the author and director of “Frozen” and “Frozen 2,” also did not specifically come down on one side or the other of the “lesbian Elsa” idea.

“Where we’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things,” Lee said. “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.”

The writer and director prioritized character development over a political agenda — a positive sign for the storytelling in “Frozen 2.” At the same time, she may be aware that, despite the LGBT fervor online for making Elsa lesbian, millions of parents across America would not be comfortable exposing their children to same-sex relationships at a young age.

According to a survey by the Harris Poll sponsored by the LGBT activist group GLAAD, more Americans in 2017 than in 2016 expressed discomfort with LGBT people in various settings. Perhaps seeing a lesbian relationship in a feature film directed toward children would disgust more parents than it would attract.

Disney has been edging toward an embrace of LGBT issues. Last year, director Bill Condon announced there would be an “exclusively gay moment” in the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” (2017). Even so, that moment proved short-lived, easy to miss, and largely irrelevant to the theme of the film.

Similarly, “Finding Dory” (2016) may have featured an animated lesbian couple with a baby. Director Andrew Stanton largely dismissed this idea, saying, “They can be whatever you want them to be.”

If Elsa were to have a girlfriend, that would be a tremendous transition for Disney, and one that may not be too kind on the studio’s pocketbook. Most parents will still take their children to see Disney films, but if they knew there would be an openly lesbian princess, they may elect to skip out on “Frozen 2.”

In today’s age of polarization and online rage, Lee probably made a smart decision by hedging her bets, saying she’s happy about the “conversation,” and insisting she wouldn’t foist a political agenda on a fictional character. Both Christian parents and the LGBT mob aside agendas can destroy good art.

Watch the trailer for “Frozen” below.