Disney’s latest animated movie Encanto is a terrific look at a Colombian family blessed with magical gifts. And it also introduces a new song into the canon of Disney's bonafide coming out anthems!
While Disney is still lagging behind in quality when it comes to explicit, meaningful queer representation, especially in its movies, thematically, Disney musicals are gay as hell. Even back before the Disney Renaissance of the '80s and '90s, the company had several great queer-themed songs. And those numbers have only grown exponentially!
Perhaps it’s because of that lack of actual gay and trans characters that Disney fans have latched so strongly onto these songs as coming out anthems. (After all, when you don’t have actual role models you have to make models fit your roles.) Or maybe it’s because the desire to explore and discover your true self is an incredibly queer theme. Who knows more about self-discovery and self-actualization than the LGBTQ+ community, right?
No matter the reason, these are 11 of the gayest, transest, and queerest Disney coming out anthems, ranked!
Trapped in the Notre Dame cathedral by his abusive and homophobic dad, Frollo, Quasimodo yearns for a chance to be like "the regular people" he sees from his tower. "If I was in their skin, I'd treasure ev'ry instant," he sings. Classic trans masc yearning.
Young Hercules never feels like he fits in. He's always messing up things for others, he's not like the other boys, but he still feels like there's a community out there where he'd not only belong, but be celebrated. In "Go the Distance," he sings about how he's willing to fight to find that community that will embrace him for exactly who he is and nothing else.
This is the first of three Elsa songs on this list. It’s almost like her entire character arc is a queer narrative! “Are you someone out there who's a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I'm not where I'm meant to be,” she sings to a magical voice (which she calls a “siren” btw). Again, Disney packs in messages of feeling like you don’t fit in and longing to find someone else who feels the same way. Maybe Elsa just needed to find another lesbian.
Moana is one of my personal favorite queer narratives in the Disney catalogue. This is another song about struggling to be “the perfect daughter” that your parents want you to be. Moana sings “I know everybody on this island seems so happy on this island, everything is by design/I know everybody on this island has a role on this island, so maybe I can roll with mine,” reminding us how hard it is to play a straight, cis role when you’re not. She wants to play along, but the voice inside her “sings a different song.” Nothing’s wrong with you Moana, you’re just gay.
Ariel is the original Disney trans girl. In "Part of Your World" she sings about wanting to be like the girls and women she sees on land. She even wants to get bottom surgery! (Girl, same!) For a long time, this was considered the gayest Disney song, and for good reason. With lyrics from iconic gay lyricist Howard Ashman, the song hits queers right in the heart, expressing our feelings in a way that was rarely seen in the '80s.
Elsa’s first coming out anthem is one of the most popular Disney songs of all time. “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see/Be the good girl you always have to be/Conceal, don't feel, don’t let them know,” she sings. If you’ve been closeted, this will ring all too true. We’re always trying to be the perfect good girl or boy, hiding away our true feelings and who we truly are. When we finally get to be ourselves, it feels exactly like when Elsa sings this song and lets her powers shine for the first time.
The newest Disney animated feature, Encanto gave us an all-new coming out anthem, “What Else Can I Do?” sung by the Madrigal family’s eldest daughter Isabela. After spending her whole life trying to be perfect and do things the way her family wants, she's finally doing things for herself. “I wanna feel the shiver of something new/I'm so sick of pretty/I want something true, don't you,” she sings, adding, “What can you do when you know who you wanna be is imperfect? But I’ll still be okay.” This song is gay, and queer Disney fans have a new lesbian icon in Isabela!
In Frozen 2 (probably the gayest Disney movie), Elsa goes on a quest to discover more truths about herself, and in this song, she finally sees it all. When Elsa realizes, “I am the one I’ve been looking for all of my life,” it’s the ultimate coming out realization. She doesn't have to live up to anyone else's expectations. She’s become her best queer self, and she’s exactly who she was meant to be. This song is a perfect coming out empowerment anthem.
Is there a single trans person on earth who doesn’t see themselves in this song? Every single lyric is about being trans!!! I can’t even put the most obvious queer lyrics, because it’s literally the whole entire song. “Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me/Why does my reflection show someone I don’t know,” “when will my reflection show who I am inside,” and “Can it be I'm not meant to play this part? Now I see that if I were truly to be myself, I would break my family's heart.” She even says “I will never pass.” That’s a trans a feeling as it gets!