Would cross dressing be accepted at Disney World

Mulan, Elsa, and the LGBTQ communityWanted or unwanted? Queer Icons in Disney films

The real-life version of Mulan is shown for VIP members on Disney Plus. It's also about cross-dressing: the female figure Mulan dresses as a man to fight in the army. There are more queer characters and moments in the Disney universe. But it could be more and with more obviousness, thinks Andrea Wöger from Moviepilot.

Briefly about the story of the Disney film Mulan: It is the story of a young woman who fights in the imperial army in the place of her father. For that she has to pretend to be a man. Disney presents Mulan as a live version, the original is a cartoon from 1998.

Disney characters are celebrated again and again in the queer community. So also Mulan, who is seen by some as an icon for her cross-dressing. In the cartoon version, however, there is also the character of Captain Li Shang, who is celebrated by the queer community. "He seems bisexual. Because when he falls in love with Mulan, he thinks she is a man," says Andrea Wöger. The fact that this character was replaced in the real-life version met with criticism.

Disney characters that matter to the queer community

There are more characters from the Disney universe that matter to the queer community. Elsa from the film "Frozen", for example, is celebrated by many as a queer figure. However, according to Andrea Wöger, it was more likely to become an icon by mistake: "There was a lot of subtext that was only interpreted afterwards."

Some ideas for Elsa's love can be found on Instagram under #makeelsagay:

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It takes a lot of interpretation around queer characters

There is a brief, almost gay moment in "Beauty and the Beast". In one scene, Gaston, the opponent of the "Beast", briefly dances with Le Fou. "Here an attempt is made to provoke a 'gay moment', but when you blink twice you can't see the two dancing men," says Andrea Wöger. In China, the film ran with this short scene, without censorship. This is a sign that this "gay moment" didn't really exist.

"When films are uncensored in China, there was no queer content."

It is difficult to judge what is coincidence or what Disney actually wanted. "As a queer person you can't just demonize Disney and say they don't do anything. It's all just a coincidence," says Andrea Wöger. In the leisure resort "Disney World", for example, there are the Gay Days. This shows that Disney as a brand is trying to address the queer community - but not so clearly on the screen.

"As a brand, Disney is trying to pick up the queer community, but is pushing them out completely in the cinema."

That is why the queer community has to look for its heroes itself. "I'm part of the queer community myself and would like a lot more from Disney," says Andrea Wöger.

It's not just about the typical Disney family films. In the movie "Star Wars 9", for example, there was a queer moment: "Two women are hugging, but it happens somewhere in the background". It remains with short scenes that can be cut out during protests if necessary. "Disney shouldn't be so afraid of the shit storm that comes from the conservative corner," says Andrea Wöger.

"It is staged in such a way that Disney can easily cut it out in case of doubt. So that the film can also be shown in theaters in conservative and homophobic countries without any problems."

And yet - there are clearer signals: Part of the remake of Mulan is the song "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera, recalls the film expert. It describes the moment when the reflection in the mirror matches what the person feels inside in front of the mirror. "That is hardly an overinterpretation when you apply it to queer topics," believes Andrea Wöger.

Calls for a boycott against Mulan

There is also criticism of the remake of Mulan - for completely different reasons: International human rights activists have called for a boycott. Because it was shot in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Disney is said to have worked with local authorities. The point of criticism: In Xinjiang, China's government is taking action against the Uighur minority. You can find more about this, for example, on Deutschlandfunk Kultur: "Activists call for a boycott of Disney production".