In recent weeks, Twitter has become home to two viral hashtag campaigns: #GiveElsaAGirlFriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend, which both propose that beloved pop culture characters, Elsa from "Frozen" and Captain America respectively, be given same-sex partners in the upcoming sequels to their wildly successful films.
Because queer people are rarely allowed to openly express their desires without non-queer people losing their minds, it wasn't long before another hashtag predictably reared its exasperated head on Twitter: #StopGayingAllTheThings.
The hashtag, started by conservative radio host Steven Crowder, served as a call to arms against the "LGBTQAAIP gaystapo":
I'm always amused when anyone thinks that queer people currently have the power to run and/or ruin America. We've seen some encouraging progress in terms of visibility in mainstream culture and in the media, sure. And, yes, we've finally started to receive some of the same rights as non-queer people (I know, I know, we're so obnoxious -- how dare we want to be treated just like everyone else, right?), but the idea that there's any kind of imminent threat to the heteronormative, patriarchal status quo in this country (and most others) is, tragically, a joke.
And still, Crowder is right: queer people are trying to gay everything and everyone and the truth is, we've been doing it for years.
Can you really blame us? When we look at our TV screens or buy a ticket to a blockbuster movie, too often we don't see ourselves. GLAAD's 2016 Studio Responsibility Index found that only 17.5 percent of 126 major movies released in 2015 contained characters who identified as LGBT. What's worse, those characters are often villains, walking stereotypes or they're killed off before we can even really get to know them. GLAAD's report found that only eight of the 22 major studio films to include a queer character lived up to GLAAD’s Vito Russo Test, which measures how those characters are presented in the context of the film in a similar way to the Bechdel Test. This was the lowest percentage since GLAAD began examining films with this criteria in 2012.
So, we've been forced to dream. So, we've been compelled to scheme. Over the last century, queer people have become remarkably adept at looking for clues, deciphering codes and claiming the bodies that have been overlooked, forgotten or unfazed by the grabby hand of heterosexuality. We've projected our lives and our loves and our desires into whatever corners and onto whatever creatures we can, whenever we can. And we've found a bit of hope, if not happiness, in something as simple as imagining ourselves existing -- and dare I even suggest thriving! -- in a world that was and is not designed for us.
It's our way of taking up space and signaling to each other that we are not alone and that is nothing short of revolutionary. Within a culture that wants us silenced, legislatively erased and/or dead, this kind of fantasizing is fundamentally necessary for our survival and functions as a radical, political act of resistance and we won't stop because we can't stop -- our futures depend on it.
These hashtag campaigns are our way of putting our longing into action or, at the very least, they can act as opportunities to dissipate some of our disappointment with the way the world operates while possibly vanquishing a bit of our collective loneliness.
Social media, for all of its headaches and all of its dramas, has provided us a way to publicly dream our dreams of queer superheroes and Disney princesses. It may not be the real thing. Elsa and Captain America might not get queer lovers next month or next year, but the remarkable thing is that thanks to the stunning ingenuity, relentless hard work and fearless leadership of so many in our community, some of our wildest wishes have actually come true. We've got a long way to go, but we're getting there and it's because we dared to decide that we deserved everything we wanted, we worked for it and we refused to take "no" for an answer.
So we say: yes. Yes! We want to gay everything. Yes, just like everyone else, we want to feel like this world belongs to us and we want to feel like we belong in this world. And no, silly hashtag campaigns won't stop states from passing really awful laws or stop bigots from murdering our sisters, and, yes, we may have more terrifying things to contend with than suffering through more straight superhero movies. But every smidgeon of resistance we can muster matters and every vision we can realize counts. Just look at where we've already been and what we've already survived!
So, yes, keep pushing for gay princesses. And yes, keep thinking up boyfriends for Avengers. After making the magic we've made and seeing the miracles we've seen since the dawning of the modern queer movement fifty years ago, there's no reason to stop dreaming now.