Friends, it finally happened. A commenter on Facebook told me to “stop trying to make everything gay when it’s not.”
“This is not a fucking gay movie,” said Some White Girl of recent release Birds of Prey, in which bisexual icon Harley Quinn does roller derby and punches lots of men. Well, I’m here to remind you that, actually, everything good is gay.
Today I’d like to take you on a journey all the way back to 2001. Buckle up, fellas: Shrek is a he/him butch lesbian and his story is a metaphor for the lesbian experience. Princess Fiona is a closeted baby femme who learns to embrace her queerness over the course of the film. Below, I have listed 6 key arguments to support my hypothesis. No, I will not be taking constructive criticism.
1. Shrek self-isolates due to fear of how he will be perceived by others.
When we first meet Shrek, he is living alone in a swamp. He scoffs at the fairytale conceit of “true love’s kiss,” opting out of potential social interactions and choosing instead to stay home alone and eat junk. Me too, Shrek. But this attitude points to something deeper; Shrek has built up walls around his own social life, fearful of the backlash of being an ogre in a human-dominated society. His insecurities around being perceived by humans as a fairytale creature, and specifically an ogre, are a recurring theme throughout the film. This mirrors the internalized homophobia and self-loathing that many gay folks experience - and that can cause many gay folks to isolate themselves and deny their own realities. In Shrek’s case, this manifests in a complete denial of his own identity as a fairytale creature, and he feels no solidarity with his community; when Duloc’s fairytale creatures are all relocated to Shrek’s swamp, his first priority is to kick them all out.
2. Princess Fiona is initially unable to accept her true identity as an ogre.
Shrek isn’t the only one struggling with internalized homophobia. When Shrek arrives in Princess Fiona’s castle as part of the rescue mission demanded by antagonist Lord Farquaad, Fiona demonstrates surprise and disappointment that Shrek is not, in fact, the handsome human knight that she expected. Fiona’s primary motivation for wanting to be rescued and married is to free her of the curse that turns her into an ogre after sunset; knowing this, her initial rejection of Shrek because he is an ogre is reflective of the same internalized hatred of fairytale creatures (a metaphor for internalized homophobia) that causes Shrek to isolate himself in his swamp.
3. Princess Fiona accepts Shrek’s “deviant” ogre behaviors as part of his identity because she relates to him.
As Shrek and Fiona’s relationship develops, we see that there is a genuine connection between the two. Shrek is able to behave as his authentic ogre self, preparing rats for the two’s dinners and blowing up frogs as balloons, and Fiona takes these ogre behaviors in stride. Where most humans in the story would express disgust at the more monstrous behaviors Shrek demonstrates, Fiona accepts Shrek fully as he is - in this metaphor, accepting his butch identity not as a deviancy, but as an integral part of who Shrek is as a person.
4. Antagonist Lord Farquaad represents shitty, insecure straight men everywhere.
The film’s antagonist Lord Farquaad is frequently aligned with both hypermasculinity and insecurity. When Shrek first sees his castle, which is distinctly phallic in shape, he quips, “do you think he’s compensating for something?” Farquaad’s diminutive height is played off for laughs, and he is characterized as power-hungry and self-centered. This stands in contrast to Shrek’s own conception of masculinity; while he is shown to be insecure about how he is perceived by others, he never falters in his perception of himself as an individual.
PS: I want to clarify that your height and/or your junk are not indicators of your masculinity, simply that the film uses these factors to indicate Farquaad's character.
5. Shrek fucks up a straight wedding with the power of true love and acceptance.
At the dramatic climax of the film, Fiona’s wedding to Lord Farquaad, Shrek has finally resolved to reveal his true feelings to Fiona. He bursts in to the wedding, interrupting the ceremony by professing his love for Fiona and revealing that Lord Farquaad is only marrying her to become king. This interruption delays their marriage enough that we see Fiona turn into an ogre; though surprised, Shrek’s feelings do not change, and they share a kiss. Though “true love’s kiss” is supposed to break Fiona’s curse, she remains an ogre. Her disappointment when she does not turn back into a human reflects the same internalized self-hate that we see throughout the film, but all it takes is Shrek’s assertion that she is beautiful just as she is for her to joyfully embrace her new life. Metaphorically, this wedding is significant, as it demonstrates both Shrek’s and Fiona’s acceptance of their identities as ogres. Additionally, their happy marriage sends a clear message to viewers: though they may be perceived by some as hideous, their love is real, and what is more beautiful than that?
6. I am gay and I say this movie is, too. Do not @ me.
Everything good is gay because I say so. ESPECIALLY if it “ruins your childhood” or whatever. Cheers!