Madden: Disney’s next protagonist should be gay

Joe Madden, Columnist

The Walt Disney Company has always been fairly accepting of the LGBT community, and is known for its week dedicated to the gay community, Gay Days, that began as early as 1991.

Recently, Disney has been diversifying its portfolio of love stories (which, admittedly, was not that hard to do). In 2009, Disney presented its first black princess with Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.

The next protagonist Disney adds to its ever famous canon should have a love interest of his or her own gender.

Consider, for a moment, how entirely different your childhood would have been if you had grown up seeing gay couples in media. How would seeing them, portrayed as no more or less in love than straight couples, have influenced your childhood?

Personally, I might not have considered being gay as strange a concept as I did when my parents would talk about it with me. I might not have tried so hard to be a good football player, or have given those few — hilariously pointless — attempts at having a girlfriend a shot. I might have spent less time in the closet and decided to come out earlier to my entirely accepting parents.

Consider how much of a difference seeing a gay couple in a Disney movie would make for those entirely undeserving and unfortunate kids stuck with parents who did not explain what being gay means to them or who were not entirely accepting.

Without a doubt, we are most impressionable as kids. The traces of conventional discrimination, while always present, are weaker in each successive generation, and popular culture plays a large part in that making of a more accepting world.

I know many would argue to save children from exposure to homosexuality. But children are already exposed to heterosexuality or, more accurately, heterosexual couples in Disney movies. Two Disney princes, or two Disney princesses, would not need to have any more physical a relationship than their straight counterparts.

The movie in question would be a huge moneymaker. Ever since Coca-Cola’s controversial Super Bowl commercial in 2014 by featuring one of social conservatives’ greatest fears, a functional gay family, companies have been capitalizing on the growing support for the LGBT community.

Some might feel this commercialization of the recent upswing in LGBT popularity demeans the countless accomplishments of the many men and women who fought to make it happen. But, if a message is sent to make money and it helps the gay community, it helps the gay community. And the message such a movie would be sending would be to the next generation, solidifying the acceptance the work LGBT advocates have done for the generations of gay youth to come.

Ultimately, a Disney movie with two princesses or two princes would teach kids that love is love. I can only imagine the number of American parents out there who would pay good money to teach their children that lesson. And I think it’s time Disney took it.

Joseph Madden is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.