By Madison Gordon
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When I was younger, I did all of the things expected of a little girl: I played with dolls, I liked to dress up, and I loved Disney. To be more specific, I loved Disney Princesses. Ariel was my favorite. I used to tell my parents, “I want to be a princess when I grow up.” I would imagine my life when I got older, a life where my handsome prince would come and rescue me. Now I realize that I was never really exposed to any type of relationship other than one with a man and a woman. Whenever I played with my dolls, I would always have Barbie and Ken together. Never Barbie and another girl. That just wasn’t what I was taught. When I was growing up, mainstream media only exposed kids to heterosexual couples.
I came out when I was sixteen. I had know I was a lesbian for quite a while; I realized it sometime when I was in middle school. I never had any feelings for guys. My friends would make comments about how cute guys were, and I always felt excluded and left out because I never understood what any of them were talking about. I felt abnormal, like I wasn’t supposed to feel the things I was feeling. I watched all of my friends go on dates with boys, while I sat quietly on the sidelines waiting and feeling like I was doing something wrong.
Ariel had Eric. Jasmine had Aladdin. Cinderella had Prince Charming. None of these princesses (or princes for that matter) showed any sign of being gay. Personally, if there had been a lesbian princess or a gay prince, or even a character or plotline in any of these films that represented the LGBTQ+ community, maybe my coming out would have been easier. I hated myself for the longest time. I didn’t know or see anyone like me being represented, I didn’t think I was “normal." My parents supported me, and they still do, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be accepted by my peers and the rest of society. If Disney had represented a gay relationship a bit earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have struggled as much.
I honestly cannot believe it took Disney this long to feature a gay relationship. Disney is one of the largest companies to openly support LGBTQ+ rights. So many young children look up to the characters they see in films and media, and if they only see couples in heterosexual relationships, what kind of message does that send? Think about the kids who have two moms or two dads. How do they feel when they only see heterosexual relationships in Disney movies? They feel left out too.
When I saw the news that there would be a gay relationship portrayed in the new Beauty and the Beast movie, I was overjoyed. Even though we still have a long road ahead to fight for equal representation, so many parents are going to take their kids to see this movie. So many kids are going to be exposed to this relationship, even if it is only briefly. A second is all it takes to open up someone’s mind. By letting kids see that it’s perfectly fine if people of the same gender are in a relationship with one another, it might give a child the boost of confidence they need. I know I would’ve loved to see Gaston and Lefou together. It would’ve shown me that being attracted to someone who is the same gender as me is normal. I am so happy that Disney is finally stepping up to the plate and representing part of my community.