Guess what—I wrote a fairy tale!
The reason I wrote this is because I was thinking one day about superheroes and princesses, and how kids are being expected to identify with the characters that are marketed to them based on their sex, and how identifying with characters of the opposite sex is taken as a sign of being transgender. For example, right in the DSM criteria for gender dysphoria, they list identification with opposite-sex characters in stories as a sign of gender dysphoria!
Both kids and adults can identify with any characters they want, and all it means is that the character resonated with them in some way. It doesn’t mean they have a medical problem that requires treatment. It’s quite normal for girls to identify with male characters, since male characters are fully-developed characters who are often heroes and who get to go on fun adventures, while female characters are two-dimensional pretty things for the male characters to win. It’s also normal for lesbians to identify with male characters, since we also want to be the one to “get the girl.” Maybe we’d identify with lesbian characters if there were any!
As a woman, who was once a girl, I am expected to identify with princess characters, at least according to what the marketers think. However, I don’t usually identify with princesses, and if I had to buy a product that had either a superhero or a princess on it, I’d choose a superhero. There is only one princess I identify with, and that is Belle. Belle is a girl who doesn’t do what girls are expected to—she likes to read and she’s more interested in learning and having adventures than swooning over boys. When a young man does try to woo her, she has no interest and rejects him. What I identify with the most about Belle from the Disney film is when she sings “I want much more than this provincial life.” I love that she doesn’t want the regular life that’s expected of her and instead wants “adventure” and “so much more than they’ve got planned.” For many years now, I’ve thought of Belle as a lesbian, and I know in the real story she ends up with a guy, but hear me out. She rejects an offer of marriage from a man who, although he’s obnoxious, would make a good provider, and who all the village girls are swooning over. Then she falls in love with someone she never expected to fall in love with, and when the villagers find out, they don’t understand and try to kill her lover. This sounds like a lesbian narrative, if you leave out the part where the beast is actually a human male.
I was thinking about how Belle could be a lesbian if you just rewrote the story a little bit, and then I thought about how rewriting fairy tales to give them a modern/feminist/queer twist is an actual genre, and then I remembered that I’m a writer and I could totally write that myself! So I did!
Here is the PDF file for my lesbian fairy tale, Beauty and the Butch.
I’m going to continue to discuss it here, but warning: spoilers to follow! If you prefer to read it before hearing about what happens, then stop reading this post now and click on the PDF.