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Sometimes Disney is so gay

Friday, October 17, 2008

 It’s fabulous…Hilary Duff (aka Lizzie McGuire) has recorded a Public Service Announcement to discourage kids from using the phrase “that’s so gay” in a pejorative way. I know that people use that phrase all the time without even thinking of how it might be interpreted by their lesbian and gay friends, so I hope the PSA might help a few people consider the situation a bit more, especially tweens. The PSA’s not perfect, as Broke Hoedown readers have pointed out (my son called it “lame”)….but it’s got my full support. Gay teens usually have a rough go of it socially (their attempted suicide rate is disturbing), so anything we can do to try to make their lives a bit easier is fine by me!

And of course, it’s also true that linguistics are complicated. You gotta understand, there are also those of us who have a different sort of permission here…we queer people sometimes might want to reclaim a phrase, reclaim a word to make it our own, and take the sting out of it. Given that we’ve often experienced some pretty hateful language, I think we’ve got the right.  And, in fact, reclaiming hateful words can empower a community. When I came out in 1985 and started hanging out with other queer teenagers at the Boston Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Youth, it was life-changing to be around kids who affectionately called each other by the same words that had been used by others as hateful and violent slurs.

So I ask myself, are there some things about Disney that are just so fabulously gay? And yes indeed, there are! Not necessarily that the artist’s intent was gay…just that the finished product is pretty darn fabulous, or homo-erotic, or overwhelmingly reminiscent of 1970s in the Castro. Some of my favorite so gay Disney things, in no particular order, are….

1) WALL-E’s obsession with Hello Dolly, and the accompanying melancholic desire for a partner. In fact, the Oh! Industry blog has a whole article about exactly how gay this is.

2) Ursula, from The Little Mermaid, whose design was reportedly based on the drag queen Divine. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t really noticed the resemblance until I heard John Waters point it out in his one-man show, but once you know it the pieces all just fit, especially if like me, you’ve sat through a few too many screening of Polyester.

3) The “I Don’t Dance” sequence from High School Musical 2. And honey, I’ve written about that before, at some length. It bears repeating though, especially since I am of course hoping that High School Musical 3 will be gayer than ever.

4) Minnie’s Country Home. No, I don’t think Minnie’s necessarily a lesbian.  It’s just that the hyper-feminine, overly-cutesy décor doesn’t seem to belong to any actual female. The only way it makes sense to me is if I read it as camp….the place seems to be inhabited by a drag queen doing her best impersonation of what an ideal 1950s housewife should be. (I wish this thought had occurred to me in time for Those Darn Cats episode 18, A Room of Minnie’s Own, but hey, the interweb is an ongoing discussion, right?)

5) Captain Jack Sparrow. Need I say more?