If you’re reading this essay, you’re probably already aware that many people like reading Elsa as queer. But if you’re not, the basic gist is that while Elsa isn’t canonically queer, her character resonates with many queer people who can draw connections between her experiences of having ice powers in kingdom of non-magical people, and their own experiences of being queer in a society of cishet people. (That’s a bit of a mouthful to explain, so people normally say that she’s coded as queer for short.) This is yet another essay about reading Elsa as queer, but I’m expanding on existing writing in two ways: first, I’m exploring the ways that Elsa is coded specifically as both aromantic and asexual, or aroace for short. Second, I’m focusing on how the music in particular codes Elsa as aroace.
This is just my bookkeeping of every motif I’ve found, where I’ve found it, and my commentary on it, which has nothing to do with the Elsa being coded as aroace. If you’re a big enough music theory nerd that that sounds interesting to you, feel free to keep reading and share your thoughts in the comments. For everyone else, you’re probably better off skipping this.
Gender is complicated. I first realized that when I started doing research online, not long after a moment of definitely-not-cis-ness that even I, oblivious as I was, couldn't miss. There were lots of terms, but even more questions for me to answer. What had my "definitely-not-cis" feeling been, exactly? The "definitely-not-cis" feeling wasn't always present, so what was I feeling when it wasn't there? Slowly, I began to find answers, to find terms like genderfluid, genderflux, agender, demigirl, terms that seemed like they might feel comfortable one day. And I thought that would be it, that once I found my terms, my questioning would end.
It's funny how the smallest things can lead to the biggest changes in perspective. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought there was any connection between my aromanticism and my gender identity, I would have said no. And yet, somehow, a single Tumblr post helped me to look at things from a slightly different angle and realize there was so much more depth in my personal experience than I thought.
My relationship with love is deeply influenced by my asexuality and aromanticism, resulting in a complicated, confusing, contradictory mess. It means both a lot and a little to me; I like and dislike considering my thoughts, feelings, and experiences to be love; and outside of aspec spaces I'm rarely included in conversations about love that allow me to fully express myself. Where do I even begin?
I think about aromanticism a lot. I think about how being aromantic influences my behavior, how it informs my perspectives on media, how it affects where I fit in the world. The question I don't think about as often is where aromanticism fits in the world, especially when it comes to where other people place it (or more specifically, where they don't). Here are two cases where the answer left me wishing for something better, and two possible solutions.
I was talking recently with a friend about the distinction I make between relationships and partnerships to explain why I don't want a queerplatonic relationship, and one of the differences we discussed was the idea of leaning, which invariably led to a lot of existential questions about aloneness.