Thursday, 27 February 2014

Nine Animated Disney Characters Who May Be Stuck In The Closet

Homosexuality is more prominent in the mainstream than it has ever been before and now even Disney is getting in on the act. The studios latest animation Frozen featured Disney's first prince to be voiced by an openly gay man and the hit TV show Good Luck Charlie has recently announced that a lesbian couple will appear in an upcoming storyline. How scandalous!
It's refreshing to see one of the world's largest corporations finally relax their conservative views somewhat, although unfortunately, an openly gay Disney prince or princess still seems some way off. If only the Mickey Mouse crew could take a leaf out of Laika's page, the production company who featured a male character come out at the end of last year's Paranorman.
For now though, we'll just have to contend with the 'secretly' gay characters who regularly pop up in Disney animation. That's right guys. Some of your favourite cartoons from childhood may have batted for the other team. Why else do you think the Cave of Wonders only opened up for Aladdin? If you don't believe me, read on to find out which nine animated Disney characters may be stuck in the closet. Big emphasis on the 'may'. PS. I won't even insult your intelligence by including Ryan Evans from High School Musical on the list.
9. LeFou – Beauty and the Beast

Let's start off with an obvious one shall we? Poor LeFou spends the entire film pining after Gaston, only to be rebuked at every turn. 
Despite being shown no respect, LeFou follows Gaston around like a lovesick puppy and even writes a show stopping musical number for him, fittingly titled 'Gaston'! With lines such as "There's no man in town as admired as you" and "For there's no man in town half as manly", the admiration seems to transcend a typical bromance. How often do straight men describe their friends as "perfect" or "a pure paragon"? It's a shame though that the film makers chose to make this potentially homosexual character a bumbling idiot. Not a good message for the kids Disney!
8 & 7. Timon and Pumbaa – The Lion King

After Simba ran away from his evil and unusually camp uncle Scar, the young lion fortunately ran into Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and a warthog who live together alone in the jungle. Hakuna Matata. 
Now, you could of course argue that those three lovable critters are just good friends who all live together fratboy style and you may be right, but to me, the whole set up feels more like a foster family than just some buddies hanging out. Who would have thought that a male meerkat and a male warthog would do such a great job of raising the future king of the lions? It's quite cute really. Did you see how proud Timon and Pumbaa were when Simba found love with Nala? Aw. I can definitely feel the love tonight.
6. Lady Kluck – Robin Hood

There are other characters from Disney's Robin Hood who seem more likely choices (hello King John!), but there's something about Lady Kluck which makes me think that she may be stuck in the closet too. 
Sure her appearance and strong demeanor may come across as stereotypically lesbian to more close minded audiences, but that's not why I've selected Lady Kluck. For me, it's her devotion to Maid Marian that clinches it. By all rights, that lady fox should have ripped Kluck's head off with her teeth and picked the meat clean off her bones but instead, the two play badminton together and knit. It's a shame then that Marian only has eyes for Robin Hood. Kluck is one lady-in-waiting who's going to be waiting a long long time for that one. The wedding at the end of the film must have been particularly hard on poor old Kluck. Those definitely aren't tears of joy... 
5 & 4. Todd and Cooper – The Fox and the Hound

More gay inter-species animal loving here people. It's that classic love story we've all heard a thousand times before; Fox meets hound, fox loves hound, fox chased by hound, hound lets fox escape, fox slightly responsible for hounds friend getting hurt, hound seeks vengeance, fox saves hounds life, hound jealous of fox experimenting with women, hound and fox remain distant friends. 
In case you couldn't quite follow that, The Fox and the Hound is essentially Brokeback Mountain in animal form. Let's just hope the fox is bi or his lady friend sure will be disappointed. I await Ang Lee's live action remake with bated breath!
3. Princess Merida – Brave

When Brave was released in 2012, the internet blew up with the prospect that Merida, Disney's 11th princess, could in fact be a lesbian. Some cited her tomboyish qualities as evidence for their claims and others pointed out that Merida rejects every single one of her male suitors, preferring to be alone rather than marry a man. 
While Merida appears to show no interest in boys, this doesn't automatically mean she likes girls and such an interpretation is arguably offensive to both lesbians and women in general. After all, Merida could just be an independent, strong-willed woman with a mind of her own.  However you read her sexuality though, Merida's character can certainly be seen as an inspiration to adolescents struggling with their own sexual identity. To top it all off, Brave ends with the message that it's ok to marry who you want on your own terms, an issue that has become more and more prevalent in the LGBT community in recent years. 
2. Merlin – Sword in the Stone

Merlin may be a surprise choice for fans of Sword in the Stone but hear me out. When Arthur falls through the roof of his cottage, Merlin immediately takes a liking to the boy, offering to tutor him in order to provide a better future for himself. So far, so good. However, when Arthur's father objects to Merlin's involvement, the wizard immediately flares up, intimidating the man until he agrees to relinquish Arthur into his care. Bit extreme right? 
Furthermore, when they both transform into squirrels later on, Merlin freaks out because the female squirrels keep chasing them, eventually reverting to human form out of anger. Of course, humans transformed into squirrels wouldn't want to get it on with real squirrels anyway, unless they had a seriously odd fetish, but Merlin's fascination with Arthur reminds me of another old wizard who takes on a younger apprentice with heaps of potential. J. K. Rowling openly states that Dumbledore was homosexual and the parallels between this and Harry's story are certainly worth considering. Turns out Harry Potter is just the Sword in the Stone of the 2000s. Who would have thought?
1. Elsa The Snow Queen – Frozen

Frozen is the best animation the studio has released since its heyday back in the early 1990s and many already hail it as a modern Disney classic. What struck me most while watching it is the character of Elsa, a princess who was born with the ability to create snow and ice... a human popsicle if you will. Elsa struggles to control her powers from a young age, so her parents drum the mantra "conceal, don't feel" into her head to stop her accidentally hurting others. Of course, things back fire, but rather than be scared by her gift, Elsa learns to embrace her otherness and becomes empowered by revealing her true self, finally free of doubt and fear.
If you've ever heard of a more obvious 'coming out' analogy, I'd love to hear it. The entire song 'Let It Go' is Elsa's big moment, her declaration to the world; "The fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all." Elsa herself never exhibits a particular preference for men or women, but whether she is homosexual or not is irrelevant. Clear parallels between her plight and that of confused teenagers trying to find their own place in the world struck a chord with many people who watched this film. Whether it was intentional or not, Disney have finally created a strong, progressive character in Elsa, one who defies stereotypes and helps viewers of all ages understand the difficulties that homosexuals still face even today. 
There you have it. Nine animated Disney characters who may be stuck in the closet. Remember, the aim of this list is to identify characters who may have been coded as homosexual by the film makers who worked on each of their respective films. I'm not saying that any of these characters are definitely 100% gay and I'm certainly not endorsing any stereotypes. With that aside, I want to know what you think. Have I missed any obvious characters? What do you think of my selections? Let us know in the comments section below.

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