The new Disney/Pixar film, Brave, from the minds of Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell tells the story of a Scottish princess. Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) makes an irrational choice that threatens her small family unit—especially her mother Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson)—all due to a supposed wild fantasy of changing her fate. The story is reminiscent of Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon, which include similar landscapes, time period, and even accents. Mark Andrews, who has directed several other films including John Carter and Star Wars: Clone Wars, brings the idea of self-discovery to the forefront. Andrews seems to enjoy playing with the idea of finding the viewers' own identities and accepting who they are, despite the ridicule and judgment they might receive from others.

Merida does not wish to marry any of the three suitors her parents have picked out for her. Instead, she would rather shoot arrows and climb cliff sides, which she does many times throughout the film, showing off her zealous outdoor nature. In a fantastic scene, Merida takes a stand during the games to win her own hand, much to her mother's chagrin, therefore canceling out the idea of marriage. This concludes in a fight between Merida and her mother, causing Merida to flee the castle in tears with her trusty steed, Angus, in search of a way to change her "fate. " This is a drastic departure from the classic fairytale structure. Merida does not want to be saved by a prince; she wants to be her own savior.

During the time of the film's release, crowds lined the city streets of New York and San Francisco for the high point of the LGBT Pride Month parades. With both events happening so closely together, many people questioned if Disney/Pixar did this on purpose, raising the question: Is Merida just a tomboy who likes to shoot arrows or is Merida gay? Did Disney/Pixar plan this from the beginning?

There has been speculation that Merida is gay, straight, or asexual. The reality is that no one knows the truth, nor will anyone know. She does not show a romantic interest in either men or women over the course of the film. However, being forced into a marriage with someone she hardly knows or has not even met before is not exactly an attractive choice, especially when freedom seems so much more appealing.

Brave was made for children to laugh, enjoy, and fall in love with. Will children really notice that Merida does n't have a love interest? No, but adults will. The film is about a strong and independent heroine who wants to be able to make her own choices for herself and her life; a request that should not be so outrageous to the adult audience of the film. To question her sexuality is to question the innocence of every child that views the film. At face value the film is about bravery, courage, loyalty, and love from a young girl who has the guts to challenge the ‘norm.'

The overall message of the movie is that children should listen to others' needs, but ultimately find their own way. Merida experiences something that many LGBT people can understand: prejudice from her society and the struggle for acceptance. Whether Merida is straight or gay doesn't matter because the film is about finding the courage and bravery within to embrace identity. The only thing parents should take away from the film is the hope that their children will understand that it is okay for them to be who they are and for them to love themselves.

View the Brave Trailer

Ashley Osbun is a senior English Major with a concentration in Creative Writing. She has a love that is bound within the pages of fiction and an equally remarkable love for Benedict Cumberbatch.