Brave was the number one movie over the weekend, earning $66 million, and proving that a Disney princess (or at least, a Pixar princess) doesn't need a prince, or a wedding. In fact, Brave's heroine, Merida, isn't interested in dudes at all.
As Adam Markovitz writes for Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch:
But could Merida be gay? Absolutely. She bristles at the traditional gender roles that she's expected to play: the demure daughter, the obedient fiancée. Her love of unprincess-like hobbies, including archery and rock-climbing, is sure to strike a chord with gay viewers who felt similarly "not like the other kids" growing up. And she hates the prospect of marriage - at least, to any of the three oafish clansmen that compete for her hand - enough to run away from home and put her own mother's life at risk. She's certainly not a swooning, boy-crazy Disney princess like The Little Mermaid's Ariel or Snow White. In fact, Merida may be the first in that group to be completely romantically disinclined (even cross-dressing Mulan had a soft spot for Li Shang).
A few years ago, researchers found that Disney movies aren't just heteronormative — they "elevate" heterosexual love to "powerful, magical" heights.
University of Michigan sociologists Karin Martin and Emily Kazyak wrote:
Characters in love [in Disney films] are surrounded by music, flowers, candles, magic, fire, balloons, fancy dresses, dim lights, dancing and elaborate dinners… Fireflies, butterflies, sunsets, wind and the beauty and power of nature often provide the setting for — and a link to the naturalness of — hetero-romantic love.
In Brave, Merida isn't interested in the young men trying to win her hand, or in marriage. Which is not to say that she is gay. There's nothing in the film to suggest that she is; and Markovitz doesn't assume that because she enjoys outdoorsy activities, she must be gay. But because her character is not defined by her sexuality — unlike, say, Ariel, Jasmine, or Cinderella — she could be a lesbian. The point is: Kids will notice that her happily ever after isn't dependent on a wedding. And that feels like a step in the right direction.
Could the heroine of Pixar's 'Brave' be gay? (Warning: Spoilers!) [EW]
Related: Researchers: Disney Movies "Elevate" Heterosexuality