In the latest win for gay representation in Disney produced content, brand new Disney princess Kelly Marie Tran, one of the stars of the latest animated offering from Disney, Raya and the Last Dragon  has confided in an interview with Vanity Fair that she decided that her character Raya had more complicated feelings for her enemy than might have initially been obvious. 

They lied about Happily Ever After 

The character of Raya is a continuation of the theme we’ve seen in recent Disney offerings with no romantic male leads present to distract the heroine from the task at hand, including Moana and more recently Elsa from Frozen – a refreshing change of pace from the damaging ‘damsel in distress’ tropes anyone of a certain age grew up with from Disney, possibly leaving generations of little girls confused about what living happily ever after actually meant. 

Even though the gay representation in this Disney movie was not part of the storyline as such and is a creative interpretation made by the actor performing the role, Tran was thrilled when Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair mentioned that aspect of her performance, “I’m obsessed with Namaari and I’m obsessed with Gemma Chan. So I’m really excited you brought this up.” 

Authentic gay representation

“I think if you’re a person watching this movie and you see representation in a way that feels really real and authentic to you, then it is real and authentic,” Tran says. “I think it might get me in trouble for saying that, but whatever.” 

When it comes to gay representation in Disney films or content, they have consistently over promised and under delivered, such as in 2017’s live action adaption of Beauty and the Beast, where the director touted an “exclusively gay moment” which in reality was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment between LeFou, played by Josh Gad and a random extra in the final ball sequence just before the credits roll. 

The other scraps of gay representation from Disney, if you can call them that, include a background victory kiss between two women in the final moments of The Rise of Skywalker, a bit of filler noise from a character complaining about her girlfriend’s daughter in Onward and the character of Valkyrie being bi-sexual in the Marvel universe, though hopefully that’s a theme to be explored further in future character outings. 

Full gay representation

For those really hanging out for full gay representation in Disney’s mainstream fare, Kelly Marie Tran is definitely on their side, and is ready for the same,  “I want to live in a world where every single type of person can see themselves in a movie like this,” she says. “There’s a lot of work to be done in that respect. I’d love to see a Disney warrior who—I don’t know, can I say this without getting in trouble? I don’t care—is openly in the LGBTQ community. I would love to see representation in terms of someone who maybe isn’t able-bodied. And I’m hopeful. We’ll see.”

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