Pixar’s Queer Potential In “Onward”

As Thomas Sanders says, we need a gay Disney prince. I also want a lesbian princess or a non-binary, pansexual majesty going on an adventure. Thomas Sander’s song embodies the popular request of Disney fans who want to see some LGBT+ representation. Remembering back to “Beauty And The Beast,” we saw LeFou, a side character, dance with another man, which made audience members speculate at his sexual preference. Our call for representation is usually for a main character, but more importantly a character who is confirmed LGBT+ and not implied or left to speculation. And hopefully, they’re not reasoned away after the movie if people complain. Pixar, in the movie “Onward,” offers us a character who is openly LGBT+, verbally confirmed through the line “my girlfriend’s daughter,” and supposedly emotionally developmental to the plot. 

She is a side character but that doesn’t weaken her value as LGBT+ representation. It’s not a “take what you get” situation and I’m not encouraging us to settle for less. It’s simply that LGBT+ people are everywhere and live ordinary lives too (aside from fighting for say, equal adoption rights and such). There should definitely be main characters who are LGBT+, but it’s still validating for side characters to represent the community. It’s also healthy. Sexuality and gender identity may be large parts of a person, but it’s not all they are. The fact that someone is lesbian or genderqueer shouldn’t take over the whole movie, unless it’s the subject. So, for the movie “Onward,” which is centered around a sibling journey, it’s enough to subtly show gender and sexuality as a normal part of society. 

There’s a balance to be maintained to be subtle, not overlooked, left to speculation or erased. There are interjections so small that I’ve been able to miss them in past films. For example, there were potentially same-sex parents in “Finding Dory.” Then there are those speculations we make, like Hades from “Hercules,” Timon and Pumba from “Lion King” and Oken from “Frozen.” We can make all the inferences we want and while inferences may satisfy some, they lack the validation of the production company, which (yes, more implications) implies the relationship we’re asking about isn’t one they want to promote. It’s easy to brush off fan questions with words like, “It’s up for fans to decide.” Sometimes censorship gets in the way. Usually, it happens in countries where LGBT+ relationships are illegal or in communities that actively don’t support the community. I’m hoping instead this will be a Bucky and Pronk from “Zootopia” situation. The co-director of “Zootopia” openly said, "They are a gay married couple. But they don't yell at each other because they're gay, they yell because they're real."

The heart squeezing storyline and voice actors (Tom Holland!) were enough of a reason to see “Onward” no matter your age or genre preference. Now, the inclusion of sexual diversity is another. The movie came out the week of March 6, so I hope you give it a watch!