Disney recently hinted that they may create a gay Disney Princess in the near-future, causing Twitter to immediately split between angry uproars and proud applause. One tweet that stood out to me reads, “in no way homophobic, but I really think y’all are trying to force this LGBT sh*t in everybody lifestyle."
I’ve never understood how someone can claim that they’re not homophobic, yet still complain that having LGBTQ+ characters/ people in media “forces this sh*t in everybody’s lifestyle.” How does seeing people in love with someone of the same sex challenge or complicate your own lifestyle? Moreover, how does the mere presence of someone who is interested in the same sex “force” anything onto you?
Admittedly, I have seen TV shows, movies, or even commercials that clearly try way too hard to be politically correct. They over-dramatize certain races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations in attempt to be “woke” and, therefore, “trendy.” Rihanna recently received praise for a comment she left on an Instagram post where someone calls out her lack of transgender models. She responds, “I don’t think that it’s fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool!”
What I cannot wrap my head around is the fact that the LGBTQ+ community cannot be addressed for what they are -- humans. They cannot be in an ad campaign or else it’s a “violent political statement that forces them down someone’s throats,” or a character cannot have a crush on someone of the same sex without “challenging someone’s lifestyle.”
All of these people who complain about the LGBTQ+ presence in the media will simply only accept one thing: the ability to completely block this identity group from their lives.
The initial lack of LGBTQ+ representation and normalization in the media speaks loudly about our society’s implicit homophobia and transphobia; media is meant to portray an “idealist” version of reality -- one in which love and superfluous issues are plot lines in order to entertain those who have enough free time to enjoy it.
Blocking out this giant aspect of humanity is the media’s attempt to erase the LGBTQ+ community, and assert that it, in its entirety, is invalid. Just as white men and women have been granted various roles in tv and movies, at times (attempting to) portray others’ races or religions, LGBTQ+ actors should be granted those same opportunities.
And similarly, just as these white men and women's’ roles almost NEVER revolve solely around their race or gender, these actors should be granted diverse roles, whether or not their characters’ sexual orientations aligns with their own.
The idea of “gay propaganda” is just the homophobes’ attempt to silence the entire LGBTQ+ community. You cannot convince someone to genuinely have feelings towards someone of the same sex. You cannot persuade someone through TV or music to genuinely feel as though they do not align with the gender they were involuntarily given.
In fact, if “gay propaganda” exists, then “straight propaganda” is what the media has consisted of throughout its entire existence. Senseless jokes using the LGBTQ+ community as a punchline, forcing harsh stereotypes onto TV show plots, and sometimes just ignoring that community as a whole. And yet, with the strong straight propaganda that surrounds us, billions of people around the world STILL identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
I did not have to be taught to be straight, I did not have to be influenced to be straight -- similarly, people cannot be and are not taught or influenced to be gay. I am a straight cis-gendered woman, not because of who I watched on TV, but because that is who I feel that I am. My friend is a gay cis-gendered man, not because of a gay character on a TV show, but because that is who he feels that he is.
Media has the potential to make art of social issues and shed light on ways that our society can improve, yet we cannot achieve that if we do not address the complexity and diversity of our species. Ignoring Muslims, Black people, Latinas, transgendered people, or gay/bisexual people will not cease their existence. Normalizing these identities in the media can only lead our society towards normalizing our differences in interpersonal conversations and in the workplace.
A gay Disney Princess would be beautiful, as liking someone of the same sex is perfectly normal and acceptable. This Princess can allow younger kids in that community feel included and worthy, which is an opportunity that her preceding generations were not provided via the media. Who someone is romantically or sexually interested in should not affect someone else’s life, and having our media and pop culture reflect the reality of our humanity can only strengthen us as a society.