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The Demand for Diversity

Recently, there has been an amazing trend on Twitter where users are getting more vocal about their ships and including more diversity in popular movies. Both #GiveCaptainAmericaaBoyfriend and #GiveElsaaGirlfriend have gotten popular enough that people have begun to take notice.

The most notable thing about this trend is the demand for diversity in places where it is often not present. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often not represented in big blockbuster films like Marvel or Disney films (though I guess they’re both Disney now). Audiences want to see gay characters, lesbian characters, and characters all over the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and they’re being vocal enough to make people take notice. This is how change begins. Audiences have to express dissatisfaction with everyone being straight and cis all the time. Hopefully, the industry will follow the wants of the audience and the change in mentality towards disenfranchised and underrepresented groups.

There has also been backlash against this. To clear up any issues right away, if Captain America getting a boyfriend somehow threatens you as a straight person, then you’re just wrong. However, one of the most compelling arguments I have heard states that making Captain America gay makes it less likely for superheroes who identify as LGBTQIA+ to get their own movies. The result of this might be that fans would not be directed to comic series with LGBTQIA+ characters.

This actually makes a fair amount of sense. My first reaction was that studios should do this anyway and also include LGBTQIA+ superheroes from the comics. Once I thought about it though, I realized that if we’re fighting so much for one LGBTQIA+ superhero, then it might be harder to convince them to include two. However, with the number of characters the franchise already has, it might be more likely that they will make one of the pre-existing characters part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that we should all share and retweet the hashtag. But, I’m also not terribly attached to specifically Captain America being bisexual. I think the audience needs to make it clear that we want to see LGBTQIA+ characters, and the studios should respond to this. Whether it’s to make Captain America bisexual or to include characters like Northstar, or, my personal favorite, Karolina Dean. This isn’t exclusive to the MCU, however. DC and the X-Men franchise need to follow suit as well. The closest we have is Deadpool, and, other than everyone involved saying he was pansexual, there was little to no evidence to support this in the film. Hopefully, this will be explored or addressed later.

This brings me to Elsa. With no previous works other than old fairy tales to dictate sexuality, I think a lot of amazing things could be done with Elsa. Like Captain America, I don’t think it needs to be specifically Elsa, but it needs to happen soon. However, I think there’s more of a precedent to do this with Elsa. She’s insanely popular and we do not yet have an indication of her sexuality. I would really like to see Disney do something unique with her. Not every princess needs to get together with someone (my favorite princess, Merida, ends up with no betrothal at the end of her film), but not every princess or queen needs a prince or king either.

Overall, I think fans need to demand more diversity in their movies, comics, and media. People are not satisfied with having the same white, straight, cis, male characters in every movie. I love these characters as much as the next gal, but it’s well past time for a change. With the success of Jessica Jones and the popularity of Black Panther, we can no longer argue that audiences don’t want to see movies that star women, people of color, or LGBTQIA+ people. It’s simply not true.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios/moviepilot.com, Disney/disneyprincesswikia.com 
Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet, was also a writer for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant 2e, and has been published in books and magazines. She is an editor for the pop culture and media website GeekGals.co. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile, produces and performs on Fables Around the Table, and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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