23 Classic Fairytales With Hidden LGBTQ+ References 

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We all loved classic fairy tales as kids, mostly for fun and perhaps to learn a moral value or two. But did you know many of these tales subtly include hidden LGBTQ references?

The Ugly Duckling


The Ugly Duckling is perhaps one of the most powerful tales about the pain and ultimate triumph of discovering one’s true identity. The young duckling, ridiculed and rejected for being different, embodies the struggle of anyone who feels out of place or misunderstood based on appearances. 

His transformation into a beautiful swan is a heartwarming affirmation of self-discovery and acceptance, encouraging everyone to look beyond the surface and cherish the diverse qualities each person brings.


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In Rapunzel, the story of a young woman locked away from the world in a high tower speaks volumes about isolation and the yearning for freedom. Rapunzel’s long hair, which ultimately becomes the means of her escape, symbolizes the ways in which individuals might use their unique traits to gain independence and autonomy. 

This tale reminds us of the importance of breaking free from societal constraints (in this case, Gothel!) and finding one’s own path. Mother may not know best after all…



The story of Cinderella represents a profound journey of self-discovery and acceptance. 

Her magical transformation symbolizes the liberating process of coming out, where the perfect fit of the glass slipper embodies finding and embracing one’s true identity amidst societal norms.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be viewed as a narrative of diversity and acceptance. Snow White, different from anyone else in the dwarfs’ lives, is embraced by them regardless of her differences. 

This story highlights the beauty of finding community and support in unexpected places, celebrating diversity and the strength of communal acceptance against societal judgments and threats.

Beauty and the Beast

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In Beauty and the Beast, the unfolding romance challenges traditional views on love, hinting at acceptance that transcends gender boundaries. 

The narrative cleverly hints at a bold proposition—love isn’t bound by outward appearances or societal expectations, enriching the tale with a deeper, more inclusive meaning.

The Little Mermaid

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Ariel’s story in The Little Mermaid is a heartfelt depiction of the lengths one might go to for love, reflecting the often tough sacrifices made by the LGBTQ community to live authentically. 

Her loss of voice for love beautifully captures the essence of sacrificing personal truths for acceptance in another world.

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

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Aladdin and the Magic Lamp weaves a tale of magical transformation and the quest for one’s true desires. Aladdin, initially trapped and powerless, gains the ability to shape his own destiny through the genie’s magic. 

His journey from the depths of a cave to the heights of royal influence mirrors the challenges and aspirations of those who seek to change their given circumstances. The story celebrates the idea of using newfound power to achieve personal happiness and the huge impact of love, as seen in Aladdin’s pursuit of the Sultan’s daughter, urging everyone to dream big and pursue what seems beyond reach.


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Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden puppet’s adventures and his striving to become a real boy, which is rich with themes of transformation and identity. Guided by the blue fairy, Pinocchio’s journey from rebellion to redemption highlights the challenges of self-improvement and the pursuit of personal authenticity. 

Pinocchio’s ‘disobedience’ underscores the struggles faced when one tries to break free from societal expectations and find true identity, making it a compelling story for the quest for acceptance and self-discovery within the LGBTQ community.

Peter Pan


In Peter Pan, Neverland serves as a sanctuary where eternal youth reigns and identities are fluid (no societal rules to bind them). 

Peter’s choice to remain a child captures the spirit of living freely, unebothered by conventional gender roles. This tale celebrates the notion of absolute freedom, where personal identity can be explored without limits.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland mirrors the LGBTQ+ experience through Alice’s relentless questioning and defiance of the nonsensical rules she encounters. 

Her descent down the rabbit hole represents a bold quest for self-understanding in a world that seems to resist all reason—a metaphor for exploring one’s identity in a society that often feels just as puzzling.

The Picture of Dorian Gray


Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray delves into the struggles of concealing one’s true identity. The narrative explores the duality of living openly versus in secrecy, illustrated through Dorian’s portrait— a secret place of his true self and societal transgressions, mirroring the closeted experiences within the LGBTQ community.

The Snow Queen


The Snow Queen paints a vivid picture of the emotional battles faced by the LGBTQ community against a backdrop of societal coldness. The story’s journey towards thawing a frozen heart encapsulates the quest for acceptance, portraying the transformative power of love and acceptance over exclusion and rejection.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves


Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is a narrative of cunning and resourcefulness against overwhelming odds. Ali Baba, a humble woodcutter, uncovers a world of wealth hidden by dangerous thieves and uses his wit to outsmart them. 

This tale resonates with anyone who has ever felt outnumbered or outclassed yet still dares to challenge the status quo. The loyalty and bravery of his slave-girl, who plays a key role in protecting Ali Baba, also highlights themes of courage, celebrating those who act courageously, no matter their origin or status. “Open sesame” is indeed magical!

Swan Lake


Swan Lake spins a captivating tale of a cursed identity that strikingly echoes the transgender journey. Just imagine how exhausting it is to transform into a swan each night!

Odette’s nightly shift captures the struggle for authenticity faced by many in the transgender community. 

The Frog Prince


The Frog Prince tells a tale that resonates deeply with themes of transformation and acceptance. The frog, once a prince cursed to live in a form that doesn’t reflect his true identity, must rely on someone else to recognize and value him beyond his external appearance. 

It’s a powerful story of the experience of those feeling trapped in a body or identity that society fails to see beyond, highlighting the power of acceptance and love.

Sleeping Beauty


Sleeping Beauty illustrates a profound narrative of self-discovery through the princess’s awakening with a kiss—an excellent metaphor for realizing one’s own s..xual or gender identity. 

This act breaks the long spell of conformity, symbolizing a broader awakening to personal truth and self-acceptance in a world bound by traditional expectations.

Puss in Boots

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In Puss in Boots, the clever (and super cute!) cat appears as a master of the art of disguise and strategic self-presentation. 

Puss’s adept transformations, used to elevate his master’s status, reflect the tactics employed by individuals who feel forced to conform to societal expectations while concealing their true identities.

Hansel and Gretel


In Hansel and Gretel, cleverness and bravery turn the tables on darkness—much like the LGBTQ community’s fight against adversity. 

Their journey through the dark forest to the witch’s inviting (yet dangerous!) house mirrors the courage needed to face a world that might not always be welcoming. 

The Firebird


Chasing the elusive Firebird is like a thrilling adventure for personal truth, where every step forward is a combination of risk and anticipation. 

This story draws a parallel with those brave souls striving to express and live their true identities against societal norms Capturing the Firebird is more than a mere win in the story—it symbolizes the triumph of authenticity and personal freedom experienced by liberated LGBTQ individuals.

Little Red Riding Hood


Little Red Riding Hood might traditionally be seen as a cautionary tale, but it also holds layers of meaning about personal identity and the dangers of societal conformity. 

As Red navigates the forest—a place as dangerous as it is transformative—she encounters the wolf, symbolizing the societal pressures and potential threats faced when straying from the conventional path. Her journey teaches the importance of vigilance and strength in one’s own identity journey.



The charming story of Thumbelina is centered around finding where you truly belong. It’s a touching metaphor for anyone in the LGBTQ community feeling a bit too small in a too big world! 

This thumb-sized girl’s journey to find a community that embraces her, (just as she is) speaks volumes about the universal desire for acceptance and finding your tribe.

The Princess and the Pea


In The Princess and the Pea, the princess’s acute sensitivity to a small pea beneath many mattresses reflects the heightened awareness and discomfort LGBTQ individuals often experience in environments that are not tailored to their needs. 

Goblin Market

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Goblin Market, through its lyrical storytelling, subtly explores themes of lesbian desire under the guise of sisterly affection. This poem confronts Victorian-era taboos by telling a tale of story temptations, represented by the goblins’ irresistible fruit—a daring portrayal of the allure and challenges of forbidden love during repressive times.

This classic tale highlights the strength and resilience found in what others may perceive as delicacy or over-sensitivity, celebrating the unique insights and contributions of those who feel the world differently.

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Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.