"Frozen" fans have made #GiveElsaAGirlfriend viral on social media in the past week, asking Disney to make Elsa the first-ever lesbian Disney princess in "Frozen 2."
Released in November 2013, the Disney film was a wild success, bringing in more than $1.27 billion at the box office and becoming the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. "Frozen 2" is slated for release before 2018, with both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel signed on to reprise their roles as Anna and Elsa.
Part of the initial success of "Frozen" was its twist on the traditional happily-ever-after ending that pairs a princess with a prince. Instead, the movie elevated the love between two sisters as its redeeming message. The storyline continued a new trend in Disney films that feature strong female protagonists who transcend traditional stereotypes, such as the main character in "Sofia the First," and the feisty Scottish princess Merida in "Brave."
But to some Disney fans the narrative shift could go even further by giving Elsa a love interest in "Frozen 2" that could provide LGBT youth with a mainstream model of a same-sex relationship.
"Coming out stories in the media send a strong message of inclusion and acceptance and the importance of embracing your true and authentic self," writes the Human Rights Campaign. "For LGBTQ youth who struggle to find acceptance, openly LGBTQ characters in movies and TV shows can become role models, providing inspiration and support to those who truly need it."
Other Disney fans feel that Elsa is just fine as she is and say that the lyrics of the films hit theme song "Let it Go" already has a strong message that encourages youth to be who they feel themselves to be, with some going so far as to say that the song glorifies homosexuality. In response, a rival Twitter hashtag, #DontGiveElsaAGirlfriend, has begun to trend on the social media platform.
"The gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into Disney's movie Frozen not just as an underlying message – it is in the movie," writes Mormon blogger Kathryn Skaggs. "Entertainment, with all of its mediums, has more power than just about anything else to effectively indoctrinate and influence society negatively and among the most vulnerable of its victims are children."
But amid the passionate disagreements on Elsa's orientation comes another argument: #KeepElsaSingle. Elsa shouldn't need a partner – man or woman – to be happy, say these fans, she is a better role model to little girls by going solo.
Elsa is a strong independent female who can run a kingdom on her own. #KeepElsaSingle— Nicole Ziege (@marvelgoatgrl) May 4, 2016
Elsa is not Disney's first take at an independent heroine.
In November 2012, Disney Junior premiered a new series titled "Sofia the First." And by 2014, "Sofia the First" was the most-watched evening show among all kids ages 2 to 11 with 2.7 million viewers.
"We knew we didn't want it to be a young woman looking for a man," Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, told The Wall Street Journal in 2013. "We're undoing all that damage."
A Disney team of writers and education experts spent five years developing "Sofia the First" with the goal of breaking free from a "traditional princess" mold. Instead, Sofia is the daughter of a single mother adapting to a new royal life with stepsisters and a stepdad (none of whom are evil). She is confident and inclusive, while also wearing a sparkly tiara.
"With Sofia, Disney aims to avoid the stereotype of girls needing a prince to save them, or the concept of conniving stepmothers," reported The Wall Street Journal. "She should not be valued most of all for her beauty."
Also in 2012, Disney-Pixar released "Brave," the story of a Scottish princess named Merida who defies her mother's wishes and refuses to marry her betrothed, choosing archery and horseback riding over typical princess duties.
"To put it bluntly," wrote Forbes Tom Watson at the time of the movie's release, "Merida is the first animated princess in major American film history who does not fall in love, who does not act on the basis of romantic motivation, and who does not (mild spoiler alert) choose a handsome mate in the end."
And while "Brave" by no means tanked at the Box Office, grossing more than $237.2 million while in theaters, the June film ranks 10th among Pixar’s 16 feature films.
"At its core, 'Brave' preaches acceptance," wrote Chris Heller for the Atlantic. "It's about the terrible things that can result when people – especially family members – don't try to understand one another. And it's about having the bravery to embrace one's own identity."
The success of "Brave" pales in comparison to the "Frozen"-frenzy. Elsa has an opportunity to go even farther than Merida in promoting independence, say #KeepElsaSingle fans.
"Even in Brave, the film still centered largely around a marriage story line – the idea that Merida was trying to escape a betrothal she didn't want," Megan Zander writes for the parenting blog SheKnows. "Elsa was different. Her story line marked the first time that Disney told a story about a female character that had no mention of romance or marriage.... At the conclusion of the film, Elsa was happy in her own right. Regardless of her sexuality, she was content on her own, and that's something kids could benefit from seeing, which is why she should stay as she is, a fierce, self-sufficient, single woman."