Representations of queer relationships have come a long way in recent years. Whether it’s through music, television, film or video games, long gone are the days when an LGBTQ+ character only had visibility in the prism of a coming-out storyline. London-based musician Alekxandr wants to take this one step further by putting aside the young, fancy-free and sassy gay stereotype and directing the spotlight on LGBTQ+ romance between people over sixty.
Filmed in London’s drag hothouse The Glory, Alekxandr premieres his new music video for his track “Disney Love” — which shows the long-lasting relationship of husbands Gary and Alan amidst the glitzy veneer of a Supremes/Elvis-inspired setting – below.
“I have friends who are older and have wonderful relationships. That’s why it felt important for me to put it on camera…generally as a society we have a fear of age and it’s probably because we’re scared of death,” he tells Billboard. “But it’s quite heartening for young people to see older gay people happy and in love.”
That’s why the singer felt so passionately about including this relationship in his music video. “I’ve never seen that in a music video, or ever. Having older gay people in a romance felt like the perfect juxtaposition of the purpose of the song, which is a more youthful, shallow love. It was interesting having some people who had been in relationships for years and some people who had met that day.”
The theme of accurate representation runs strong in the song and visual, whether that’s the portrayal of healthy older queer relationships or positive relationships in general. “Disney Love” explores this, picking apart the over-romanticized picture of love that many Disney movies feed into, creating an expectation of The One who cures all your problems.
“All of life is full of contradictions… and in a grey area. I didn’t want to blame the person that the song is about. I wanted to own my part [in the relationship]; we both put unrealistic expectations on each other. I kept going to my therapist saying the same old sh-t and they said, ‘when are you going to let go of this fantasy in your mind?’ I think we’re both guilty of this Disney love.”
Queer or not, relationships are complicated, and if we as a society were given a truer picture of romance from an early age, expectations for others might be more realistic. “Of course, you fancy each other when you’re in the woods when you see them that one time, but how do you feel about them when they’re at the breakfast table or busy at work? That kind of story would be so refreshing.”
Even more so would be the diversification of sexuality in Disney. With planned live action revivals of many Disney classics it (and a minor queer plotline in The Beauty and the Beast live remake), Alekxandr still thinks “they just need to bite the bullet and do a straight-up gay love story.”
“It feels very diluted or shameful when it is done; the classic, the poor tragic gay in love with the strong heterosexual. It’s so lame and it just perpetuates the gay tragedy. They need a really robust, healthy gay love story.”
It’s not as if Alekxandr is the only person saying this. Social media is awash with artists expressing a desire for this kind of representation, whether that’s editing existing clips from films such as Anastasia or The Little Mermaid or creating completely new characters. Even more telling is the strong following these artists receive across the world.
“There was this online hoax; a new Disney animation called Princes. It was coming through Twitter and it was these two Disney characters kissing and it was amazing…I felt ‘yeah absolutely,’ but it turned out to be nonsense.…It’s been proven so many times if you do a great piece of art that caters to an LGBTQ+ audience, it’s held dear.”
“We were talking about what it would have been like for people in their sixties and seventies if they’d had that when they were kids and what a difference it would have made to their lives. Something about the fact of focusing on people in their sixties and seventies…. What if we went back in time, but now, almost healing the past by going back and changing aspects about it.”