Fairy tales have a reputation for being conventional, and many of the most famous fairy tales appear, on the surface at least, to be just that. Tales like Cinderella and Snow White famously end with dazzlingly beautiful girls marrying princes, and others, like Jack and the Beanstalk, reward boys for their bravery and brashness with wealth and power. However, beginning as early as the 1970s, feminist fairy-tale scholars have pointed out tales and readings that complicate those conventions, and now researchers and writers are expanding on these beginnings to explore fairy tales’ queer possibilities.
Once used to mean strange or eccentric, later wielded as a slur against homosexuality, and eventually reclaimed by activists and scholars, the word “queer” can simply mean different than expected. Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman share some very old and very unconventional fairy tales and discuss modern LGBTQ+ twists on old tales and traditions. From a little-known 12th-century (and possibly even older) version of Snow White to literary fairy tales being written now, learn how fairy tales can be surprisingly inclusive and wonderfully disruptive to our expectations.