The Atlantic discusses:
[Merida] goes to extreme lengths to avoid having to marry one of the three noblemen that her parents have chosen for her… watching Brave’s tomboyish heroine shoot arrows, fight like one of the boys, and squirm when her mother puts her in girly clothes, a thought might pop into the head of some viewers: Is Merida gay?
Who knows? But I know that there is an ideological explanation for why that thought might pop into some viewers’ heads, and it has nothing to do with shooting arrows and everything to do with avoiding three noblemen.
If I polled the adult audience whether it was proper for females to chart their own destiny— shoot arrows, fight, or be gay– 100% would say duh.
But if I asked them if it was natural, or normal, for a woman not to be tempted by three rich noblemen– they wouldn’t dare answer.
“I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t want to be a princess,” one woman says to another as they stroke their scented copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey. “Weird. Ohhhhh, maybe she’s gay! Not that there’s nothing wrong with that.”
NB the movie doesn’t suggest arranged marriages are inherently flawed or unhappy. The King and Queen are quite happy.
I am making a very specific argument: what occurs to some– the explanation that their mind naturally allows them to see– is that she might be gay. Not the unrealistic explanation that some 16 year old doesn’t want to marry up, well, and soon.