There is a moment almost exactly halfway through Raya and the final dragon when the eponymous Disney princess (voiced by Kelly Marie) Tran) sets off to meet her longtime enemy Namaari (Gemma Chan) in battle The two women, both well-trained fighters and technically princesses, come from different corners of the fictional country of Kumandra and fight tooth and nail to protect their homes. “Hey, Princess Undercut,” says Raya with a grin Would you like to meet you hereâ ????

If this sounds more flirtatious than wild, is there a reason Tran told Vanity Fair that when she shot her role for the animated film, she decided that “there is some romantic feeling going on there” ???? between Raya and Namaari.But although Raya, like Moana and Elsa before her, is a Disney princess who has no male love interest in the film, Raya and the Last Dragon is the latest Disney offering that is all about not a main character presenting more than explicitly queer But for the company that started promoting its “exclusively gay moments”? A few years ago, and whose characters have long been adopted by queer communities, Raya felt like a step closer to the surface for many

Tran was keen to add this just because she interpreted the relationship between Namaari and Raya as something more than platonic, that wasn’t the official Disney line. Still, she was overjoyed to be asked about this particular aspect of the film: “Me am obsessed with namaari and i am obsessed with gemma chan”So I’m really excited that you brought this up a ???? Namaari in particular, with her muscular build and asymmetrical haircut, feels purposely designed to attract the attention of a queer audience.

??????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??? Tran says I think it might get me in trouble saying this, but whatever ???? Disney films have been tiptoeing around the edge of queer representation for some time, whether it’s the “exclusively gay” ones Millisecond of beauty and the beast, a fleeting, sapphic background kiss in The Rise of Skywalker, Thor: Ragnarok’s allegedly bisexual Valkyrie, Onwards brief mention of a policewoman’s girlfriend, or Elsa’s totally platonic friend Honeymaren in Frozen II

Queer fans looking to finally see themselves fully represented in a Disney movie might rush for Trans’s interpretation of Raya and Namaari’s relationship The fact that Raya is featured in the film, which is like a cosplay for Nickelodeons TV Series The Legend of Korra, in which one of the first canonically gay leading roles can be seen in a children’s show ???? may only feed this interpretation

But The Legend of Korra ended in 2014, leaving Raya and the Last Dragon seven years behind.The show’s creators, two straight men named Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, stated at the time that the series’ romance was between Korra and her “close friend” ???? Asami had “bloomed organically” ???? under the term “????”, another “unwritten rule” ???? that we are not allowed to portray that in our show a ???? They fought hard for that ending, which still includes plausible denial that it’s all platonic for anyone who wants it, and for them it was worth the push “This particular decision wasn’t just made for us,” Konietzko wrote at the time â € œWe did it for all of our strange friends, family and co-workers … I’m just sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories ”

The world of American TV animation would not break through behind Korra and Asami until a few years later, when the makers of the three shows “Adventure Time”, “Steven Universe” and “Netflix” restart She-Ra and the Princesses of Power all had to fight resilient networks to include queer characters and especially queer love in their shows

Rebecca Sugar, the non-binary artist and storyteller who both worked on Adventure Time and created Steven Universe, says when they started the former in 2010 don’t ask don’t say ???? was still a national policy and legalized same-sex marriage was still five years away Sugar was encouraged by the creative team to bring her own life experiences to the character of Marceline, but when that resulted in a planned romantic plot between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum (yes, Princess Bubblegum, is this a kid?? S fantasy show after all), says Sugar, the executives of Cartoon Network slammed the door, “We got something like,” Don’t you understand you work for a company? “said on???? So I started to see where the walls and ceilings wereâ ????

In 2012, when it was time to branch off from Adventure Time to her own show, Steven Universe, Sugar was determined to act strategically to make strange couples and narratives unstoppable from the story and impossible were censoring a ???? A central figure named Garnet was not exposed as a “living embodiment” a romance between two characters named Ruby and Sapphire until 2015, when the show was already 52 episodes in its run

Even then, Sugar had to fight Cartoon Network: “The hammer came down internally” I was asked to turn Ruby into a boy, said the characters could never kiss each other, and that Ruby and The Sapphire Relationship couldn’t be romantic I was made clear that if I or anyone on the crew spoke publicly about or confirmed that the characters were LGBTQIA, it could lead to the show being canceledâ ????

Zucker refused to be intimidated. If they didn’t include these stories, they said, “There would just be more of what I grew up with: content for kids imagining a world where LGBTQIA People there”And when you grow up with it, you get the message at a very young age that you weren’t supposed to exist. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I started talking publicly about why I felt so strong, that children deserve these stories and that they are not subversive or “adult”? but as beautiful as any of the thousands of heteronormative love stories that we children always tell a ????

Sugar eventually won that fight with the support of the young Steven Universe fans and the muscles of GLAAD behind them, Steven Universe’s exploration of queer identity via fantastic storylines that blur the lines of gender identity extends well beyond Ruby and Sapphire 2015 episode “Alone” Steven and buddy Connie accidentally merge with Stevonnie, a character who chooses neutral pronouns (and not him) and who attracts both men and women. But Ruby and Sapphire ended up having their day in the Sun And in 2018, the same year that Steven Universe’s Ruby and Sapphire wedding episode aired, Sugar’s Adventure Time avatar Marceline was finally allowed to kiss Princess Bubblegum in the series finale

That same year, queer artist Noelle Stevenson, fresh from award-winning work on LGBT comics Lumberjanes and Nimona, debuted her rebooted version of ’80s classic She-Ra for Netflix and Dreamworks Animation Stevenson was also strategic Regarding her show’s central queer narrative, she always saw a lot of queer-coded depictions in the original ’80s cartoon, but she had something more ambitiously representational in mind

???? Studios and networks tend to be careful and never want to stick their necks out further than they have to. It’s easier to convince them if this is something other shows have already done. At first there was a lot of fear Stevenson recounts the first season of their She-Ra that there always had to be plausible denial, with the exception of Bow’s two fathers, because other shows included gay parents.It didn’t start to change until we got positive, vocal support from fans of the show picked up the whole strange subtext and wanted moreâ ????

That wave of support for a central queer love story, which until this point had only been implied, gave Stevenson what it needed to get executives to end She-Ra’s run in a big way, “As I thought “We want this weird relationship between the two leads to be the climax of the entire show,” a pretty big question instead of getting a tough question ? no, â ???? I have a â ???? okay sell us on it ???? I was very, very grateful for this trust and opportunity in ???? When Netflix and Dreamworks launched Kipo and the Age of Wonder Beasts in 2020, casual weird characters were part of the fabric of the story from the start

In the She-Ra series finale, which aired in 2020, She-Ra and her longtime antagonist Catra finally kissed after being ignited and battling the familiar elements of this “enemy of lovers” trope throughout the show (long popular in YA literature, anime, and Star Wars) pops out in the dynamic between Raya and Namaari in Raya and the Last Dragon, it’s not hard to imagine if this is another movie studio or Raya and the Last Dragon rather than a TV series a movie would be that their passionate struggles would have turned into a different kind of passion before the story was done

Disney’s feature films, which are generally so expensive that they need to be made available to as wide an international audience as possible, haven’t featured a strange princess yet, but on the TV animation side, they’re already here with Dana Terraces The Owl House debuted in 2020 on Disney Channel with a main character, Luz, who has romantic feelings for girls and boys. Terrace is aware of the co-creators who paved her way

“I know Rebecca and Noelle have had to go through hell and back to their shows and they will always have my respect for it”But I don’t think I could have been as smart and strategic as both of them Terrasse Says During development, I was very open to Luz being bi and incorporating LGBT characters in a very casual, normalized way. I was told by friends and colleagues that I had to do a “Trojan horse” Any queer rep on the show to hide them through metaphors and outsmart the executives, especially if he’s in a studio as historically conservative as Disney. But honestly, I’m lying about lying I’m so bad at itâ ????

Terrace wasn’t so easy to get the green light at Disney: I sat in a conference room and said there was no way I could have any gay act among the main characters, so I got mad to absolutely blow up and out Space to Storm Life is short and I don’t have time for cowardice I was ready to go to greener pastures if necessary. The stubbornness paid off and a week or two later I was given the all-clear. Fortunately, the executives I work with directly only gave me supportâ ????

Sugar and Stevenson believe that Terrace’s behind-the-scenes support comes in every animation network and studio, including Disney feature films.Often, when the creatives are ready but the executives are weak, the strange storytelling creeps in as Part of an age-old practice called “Queer Coding” to the edge This label could easily be applied to Raya and Namaari. “As creators, we don’t always have the option to include explicit queer content,” Stevenson says, “Often times, when you see queer coding, someone is working on the project who puts a piece of themselves in and does Creates characters that portray them even if they are “unsupported” ???? Terrace agrees, “I know how hard it is to get stuff through these studios”The same leaders who support progressive content today could retire right away Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes?

For decades, queer readers and viewers have had to rely on these kinds of subtle nods to find themselves in stories. As an animation fan, I grew up saturated with queer-coded villains, and when I didn’t have canonically queer or gendered characters to enjoy I found myself in relation to aliens, shapeshifters, and mutants Zucker Says My love for queer-coded villains and monsters is bittersweet and complex and I love to see how LGBTQIA artists express and control their relationship with these tropes in their art ????

But when will the practice of “queer coding” be practiced in 2021? Turn into the queer baiting area The latter is a term suggesting a more cynical approach of teasing gay-friendly material in order to appear progressive or queer-friendly without, as Sugar puts it, alienating heteronormative audiences or risking international profit margins ???? Terrace adds: â ???? I see it a lot in modern anime, especially like the show almost poking fun at the viewers for investing in a relationship they built with no intention of paying them off, you know queer storylines appeal to the audience, but they also want politically plausible denial. It’s cruel to fans and it’s creatively boring Just make a decision, do the thing or notâ ????

This practice of queer baiting, which was last seen publicly at the end of the long-running TV series Supernatural or the hustle and bustle around Finn and Poe in The Rise of Skywalker, is increasingly unbearable among queer viewers who finally have others become stories that offer representation without bait and switches

It has become essential for a younger audience Sugar, Stevenson and Terrace all describe the overwhelming feedback they have received from young fans who have found their work encouraged to discover their own identities and take this journey with their families too share The strange representation in these stories is also key to helping parents of LGBT youth “I’ve heard from parents who say it helped them understand their queer child better or gave them the vocabulary to Introducing queer issues to their younger children”Stevenson says

??????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????? Identities were incredibly moving? says Sugar, who found the courage to come to his own family after working on Steven Universe.I honestly cried about conventions and met these families.I grew up very closely with my family, but there were large parts of me that I did Couldn’t pretend or share It is so amazing to see LGBTQIA kids able to share who they are and what they like with loved onesâ ????

When will Disney’s big features catch up? Terrace, who knows what it’s like to ask more from Disney, is hopeful Disney is a household name It’s known as a trustworthy brand and they have built a reputation for producing high quality, healthy content for families with queer storylines and LGBT Having characters as part of this content is a huge step forward in normalizing this very real part of human life! It would be especially cool if they stopped censoring these storylines in certain countries. Disney has no reason to stand up against anything anymoreâ ????

But Stevenson isn’t so sure we should be looking at Disney Princesses to push the envelope forward. “I think focusing all of our energy solely on big corporations for representation isn’t necessarily the best use of ours Time “She says these studios have good people working and they work hard and stretch their necks to include LGBT representatives in the projects they are on and I am very grateful for these people and this is one very important workâ ????

But change, she says, will only come if the people at the top take the risk of alienating conservative or international audiences – and she’s not holding their breath I think we’d better spend our time hanging out To focus media that provides the platform for queer creators to tell their own stories in meaningful ways and to prove that there is an audience and excitement for these projects, rather than assuming that representation only makes sense when it does is comes from a large studioâ ????

For the queer Princess Diehards, Kelly Marie Tran is in her corner. I want to live in a world where every single guy can see himself in a movie like this She says there’s a lot to do in that regard. I’d love to see a Disney warrior who doesn’t know, can I say this without getting into trouble? I don’t care, is open in the LGBTQ community I would like to see a representation in relation to someone who may not be productive And I am hopeful We will seeâ ????

â ???? Go on with the performance! See the Hollywood portfolio 2021 ???? Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins on the Silence of the Lambs ???? Legacy ???? X-Rated: The Myths and Legends of Midnight Cowboyâ ???? Michael B. Jordan on the loss of Chadwick Bosemanâ ???? Justice League: The Heartbreaking True Story of the Snyder Cutâ ???? Watch Zendaya answer the personality-revealing Proust questionnaire Why is Mia Farrow still afraid of Woody Allen? Old Hollywood Book Club: Lauren Bacall’s Long Happy Life ???? From the archive: Inside Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s legendary Hollywood romance ???? Not a subscriber? Attend Vanity Fair to get full access to VFcom and the full online archive now

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Kelly Marie Tran

World news – AU – Rayas Kelly Marie Tran believes that her Disney princess is gay