We might have been the last of the elementary school set to watch the film Frozen. My 6-year-old daughter had heard about it from all of her friends, and had even been introduced to the music by her classroom teacher so that when the character voiced by Idina Menzel belted out “Let it Go,” Anna was right there with her last week, singing along to every lyric.
My kids have always been sensitive. My son has a particular reaction to the key of E in music–it’s an immediate guttural response, and renders him to tears without him knowing why. It goes straight to the heart, and is the reason most lullabies are composed in that key. My daughter reacts emotionally to movies, as I do. When she’s older, I’m sure there are PMS-riddled marathons in our future: Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment, etc. We’ll wash down salty popcorn with chocolate and tears and revel in our womanhood.
The prequel to this: Disney. Because my kids were so emotionally sensitive, I’ve always had to be careful with what I showed them, so as far as they are concerned, Finding Nemo begins at the “First day of school!” scene and not the one where the mother and her thousands of eggs are killed, leaving baby Nemo motherless and the Albert Brooks character widowed (widowered?). But if I wanted to cut the sad parts out of Frozen, we would have had to come in at the hour-forty mark and only watch the last 10 minutes. Anna cried until the reconciliation of the last scene.
It was a devastating film, not because the parents died (of course they did, this is Disney!) but because it demonstrated the persecution of gay Americans.
I’ve written before about how important it is to me to encourage empathy in my children. Someone at Disney was having a similar conversation.
The film centers on Elsa who has a magic power that her parents and society deem dangerous. Even though a group of magic trolls declare she was “born this way,” she’s hidden away (almost literally in a closet) and forbidden to interact with people. Later, she’s cast from society to live in her own frozen castle of which she can be the queen who lets her freak flag fly in isolation, until her sister shows an act of love and “thaws” the town who learn to accept and celebrate her “gift.”
Disney couldn’t have chosen a better time to premiere this film. Uganda’s brutal anti-gay political stance has reached global awareness with the World Bank delaying much-needed funds. It took Jan Brewer to veto laws in Arizona that would make discrimination legal. And in the wake of the winter Olympics at Sochi, where gay rights activists were loud in opposing Russia’s backwards attitude toward gay “propaganda.” What those who change their Facebook profile pics to rainbow-hued Olympic rings might not have realized is that even though progressive legislation has pushed through same-sex marriage in some states, many parts of America are just as, if not more, regressive and punishing toward the LGBT community as Russia. Russia, in fact, legalized sodomy in 1993. A belated right of a wrong, you say? America de-criminalized it 10 years after Russia. You might say we are “frozen” in mindset and attitude.
Eight US states have banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Two states (South Dakota and Missouri) have laws that prevent anti-bullying policies. Let that sink in. In Alabama and Texas, teachers are required by law to describe homosexuality as “abhorrent” and “criminal.”
Furious anti-gay opponents have come out against the film, claiming it’s an attempt to indoctrinate our children into the mindset of those pushing a “gay agenda.” They decry the film as trying to “normalize” homosexuality, afraid that if their children recognize gayness not as an abomination, but as a persecuted minority devoid of civil rights in this modern age in a free country, they just might identify a bit. A portion of them might feel okay with any same-sex attraction they feel. They might be tempted to wrestle out of closets parents, churches and society has put them in.
But most of them won’t. Statistically, most of them are straight. But some of your kids, some of them are gay. And it’s not because society normalized it. It’s not because Disney taught them it was okay. It’s not because they were raised by gay parents or because gay marriage was legalized in your state. It’s because they are gay.
Frozen is a love story. It’s about two sisters who come together, recognizing the bond of love between them. It’s about a child who comes to accept and celebrate the gifts she’s literally closeted away from society and eventually castigated for. To use the language of the devout, the broader story shows how we are all God’s children, brothers and sisters.
Some of those children are gay. Not because they have been indoctrinated, but because they have been made that way by a Creator. And to criticize the work of that creator, to say that it is flawed or wrong, or to suggest that it should be banned or hidden, seems a bit blasphemous to me.
But I have hope that with each generation, hearts and minds will thaw.