Today, crowds will line the streets of cities like New York and San Francisco for parades that mark the high point of LGBT Pride Month. At the same time, legions of kids will swarm into theaters to watch Pixar’s Brave, the animated story of a young Scottish princess named Merida who goes to extreme lengths to avoid having to marry one of the three noblemen that her parents have chosen for her. The two events don’t seem to have much in common at first glance. But it’s quite possible that while watching Brave’s tomboyish heroine shoot arrows, fight like one of the boys, and squirm when her mother puts her in girly clothes, a thought might pop into the head of some viewers: Is Merida gay?
With that in mind, here are five ways of looking at Pixar’s motivations for being so coy:
- Brave is about a daughter’s relationship with her mother, and sexuality would only distract from the developments within that relationship.
- She is gay, and Brave is Pixar’s subversive way to put a lesbian in one of its movies.
- Merida is a straight girl who likes to run and shoot and fight.
- She’s neither gay nor straight; she’s asexual. (This would be just as sexually radical—if not more so—than making Merida a lesbian.)
- The ambiguity is itself a message.