LGBTQ+ Disney Characters

Disney Characters Who are Totally Gay  

Continuing with LGBTQ+ History Month, I would like to take this opportunity to speak on a topic that I think I am uniquely qualified for: Disney characters that are definitely gay. Sure, none of these characters are confirmed to be gay, in that the Disney corporation has not said that they are, but like….cmon. They’re gay. Sidebar: I am not going to talk about LeFou in this one. If you would like to hear my thoughts on the remake LeFou being Disney’s “first gay character,” you can read my article on that here: https://www.hercampus.com/school/jcu/i-guess-lefou-gay  Great. And now, on with the countdown:

 

1) Shang (“Mulan”)

Shang is bisexual. This is basically canon. Shang definitely, 100% had a crush on Ping. Now, I hear you saying, “But Grace, Ping was a GIRL. That’s not gay.” I know that. You know that. But SHANG DID NOT KNOW THAT. When Shang very obviously had a crush on Ping, Shang did not know that Ping actually was a girl. And that, friends, is gay.  

2) Timon & Pumbaa (“The Lion King”)

Literally “The Lion King” is just a long argument for why same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children. This one also is somewhat based on Nathan Lane, who voices Timon, being gay. Recently, in an interview with Stephen Colbert about the upcoming live-action remake of “The Lion King,” Lane said, “Now that gay rights have come so far, in this version, Timon can finally marry Pumbaa and live openly in the Serengeti. Believe me, once you’ve had warthog, you never go back.” What an absolute legend.

 

3) Genie (“Aladdin”)

Okay, this one has some history. In the late 1960s and into the 70s, there was a trend in gay male communities to pierce their right ear, and only their right ear, as a sort of “signal” to other gay men that they are gay. Thus, the right ear came to be known as the “gay ear,” which is something you can still hear about today, and is a very well-known thing. So, flash to 1992 when “Aladdin” was released and….Genie’s right ear is pierced. Only his right ear. Like. That’s the gay ear. That is very clearly a gay thing. Genie is gay. Coincidentally, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane would go on to play a gay couple in the 1996 movie, “The Birdcage.”

4) Ratigan and Basil (“The Great Mouse Detective”)

As I said, these two are real gay. For one thing, Ratigan is really into fancy, bejeweled costumes, but mostly, there is some serious sexual tension between him and Basil. For example, “Goodbye So Soon,” a song Ratigan sings about Basil, is supposed to be a villain song but it’s honestly a love song. It also slips in that they had some sort of history….Seriously, I am confident that Ratigan and Basil were in a relationship and then they had a messy breakup, leading Ratigan to turn to a life of villainy and Basil to end up with Dawson.

Interestingly, a LOT of Disney villains seem to be coded as gay characters--that is, they have characteristics, styles, or patterns that are common stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people. Some of this is just in the fact that most of the villains are not married or have no romantic interest, so we can’t really say who they might be attracted to. And while this is pseudo-representation, it’s not necessarily good, because some of this is harmful stereotypes, but that is a whole other conversation and I’m not going to get into all of that right now. But. Here is a mini breakdown of some gay Disney villains:

  • Hades → sassy gay friend, does not understand why Meg is so hung up on “some guy”

  • Scar → again, a sassy gay, has no interest in getting with any of the lionesses even though as a king he theoretically would need to eventually produce an heir

  • Prince John → feminine, emotional, basically just non-masculine

  • Governor Ratcliffe → wears bows in his hair and is obsessed with shiny things and glitter, also is cowardly and effeminate and has a little dog

  • Pleakley → is in full drag for much of his screen time (note: drag queens are not necessarily gay!!! That is a very common misconception. But the fact that many people think that Pleakley is gay is based in the fact that he seems to enjoy wearing female clothing)

 

Okay, those five are the most popular and widely regarded as gay, so we are going to move on from that to talk about…

 

Rumored to be gay, but are they gay????

There are also characters that people have said are probably gay, but that I do not feel are necessarily gay:

  • Elsa → listen, I know “Let It Go” is a coming out anthem, but Elsa very clearly had suffered from some severe emotional abuse from her parents, and that is what she is singing about, and while I recognize that it could be read as a gay thing, I feel like it really could apply to anything that people have been made to feel ashamed of?? I don’t know, I just feel like her character is more about overcoming abuse and self-hatred, whether that came from being gay or not.

  • Oaken → also from “Frozen,” there is a lot more talk about his character being gay than I really think is warranted, because he has literally 3 minutes of screentime, BUT, when he says “hi, family” and we see his family in the sauna, it does seem like there is another grown man and a lot of children, meaning that Oaken and said man have this family, but I always thought that the one lady on the right is supposed to be the mother, because she looks way older than everyone else? I never understood this one.

  • Merida → Omg. Merida is FOURTEEN. People think that because she does not want to get married to any of her suitors in “Brave,” that must mean she is a lesbian. Guys. She is fourteen. Yes, she could be a lesbian, but also she might just not want to get married at fourteen?? That is also a possibility?? She’s too young for us to assume that she’s gay.

 

Final thing: Apart from the new LeFou being advertised as a gay character, the most direct tie in a Disney movie to the LGBTQ+ community is actually the character of Ursula in “The Little Mermaid.” Ursula’s design was directly inspired by a famous drag queen named Divine, who died in 1988 (“The Little Mermaid” was released in 1989). Check out the resemblance: