Disney has been a household name for generations, famous for creating fun-filled movies that everyone enjoys. However, the company has recently been making headlines due to its first openly gay character in an animated film. There have been mixed reactions to this news, but one thing is for sure: it represents a significant step towards LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media. So, let’s dive in and find out who this character is and why it matters.
Who is Disney’s First Openly Gay Character?
The character’s name is Ethan Clade, and he is the main protagonist in the movie “Strange World.” Ethan is voiced by comedian Jaboukie Young-White, who is openly gay in real life. Ethan is a socially-aware, quick-witted, and confident teenager who also happens to be gay. He lives in a world where being gay is accepted, and he doesn’t have to hide his true self from anyone.
This character is a significant milestone for the LGBTQ+ community because, historically, Disney has never depicted queer characters in its movies before. There have been rumors and theories about some characters’ sexual orientations, such as Scar from “The Lion King,” Ursula from “The Little Mermaid,” and LeFou from “Beauty and the Beast.” However, none of these characters were explicitly stated to be gay in the films themselves.
Why It Matters
The inclusion of a queer character in a Disney movie is a massive win for the LGBTQ+ community. It acknowledges the reality that millions of queer people around the world face, both in positive and negative ways. Disney’s decision to include a gay character helps to normalize homosexuality and non-heterosexual relationships.
Furthermore, it helps queer children feel seen and included in popular culture, giving them a sense of belonging and acceptance. It can be incredibly isolating growing up gay in a world that predominantly features heteronormative relationships as the norm. Disney’s “Strange World” is the first movie to represent non-heterosexual characters in a kid-friendly movie. It is not an exaggeration to say that this will be life-changing for children who may not have felt seen or understood before.
The Importance of Media Representation
Media representation is essential because it shapes the way people represent and perceive marginalized communities. When movies and TV shows ignore diversity and fail to represent people from different walks of life, it reinforces negative stereotypes. It can be challenging to have empathy and understanding for people who you do not see represented on screen. That is why queer representation in kids’ movies is essential. It shows children that there is more to life than heteronormative relationships, and it teaches them about diversity and acceptance.
Disney’s decision to feature its first openly gay character in “Strange World” is a huge step forward in LGBTQ+ representation. The inclusion of a gay character will help children understand the importance of acceptance and diversity. It will help make the world a better place where people of all walks of life can be seen and celebrated for who they are. Hopefully, this move by Disney will inspire other influential media companies to follow suit and help create a world that is more inclusive and accepting of everyone.
Who was the first gay cartoon character?
The first gay cartoon character to appear on a U.S. animated show was Smithers, from the popular television series “The Simpsons”. Smithers made his initial appearance in the series on December 17, 1989, in the show’s first-ever episode. Smithers was created as a character who would serve as a loyal assistant to Springfield’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Burns, the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant where the show takes place. The character was named after gay puppeteer Wayland Flowers who had a character named Madame, a wisecracking puppet with a flamboyant persona.
In the show, Smithers’ sexual orientation was hinted at through his behavior and mannerisms but was never explicitly addressed until years later. The creators of the show had to navigate tricky waters as they wanted to create a character that represented the LGBTQ+ community but did not want to offend or polarize audiences. As a result, Smithers’ sexuality was often played for laughs and as a caricature of gay stereotypes.
In the early seasons of the show, Smithers appeared as an awkward, lonely middle-aged man who had an unhealthy obsession with his boss, Mr. Burns. He was portrayed as being in love with Mr. Burns, but the feelings were never reciprocated. As the show progressed, Smithers’ sexuality became more apparent, and the character began to embrace his identity more confidently.
The character of Smithers served as an important milestone in the representation of LGBTQ+ characters in animated television. Despite the connotations of the character being quite stereotypical, the show creators should be lauded for bringing a gay character to mainstream media in a time where representation was lacking.
Which Disney Channel introduces the first gay storyline?
In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in representation of LGBTQ+ characters on television. One of the most prominent genres in this regard is the family-friendly shows offered by Disney. While the entertainment giant has been criticized for not having enough diversity in its programming, it has recently taken steps to improve that. One such step came in form of the popular show “Andi Mack,” which became the first Disney franchise to center a story line around a major character coming out as gay.
The show premiered on Disney Channel in April 2017 and became a network hit soon after. It tells the story of Andi, a 13-year-old girl, as she navigates life. One of her close friends, Cyrus, had a crush on her and was trying to ask her out, but soon began to realize that he had feelings for Andi’s male friend, Jonah. Going forward, Cyrus deals with his emerging sexuality, culminating in his coming out to his friend group. The scene has been widely praised for its authenticity and sensitivity towards the subject matter.
The representation of LGBTQ+ characters on children’s programming is crucial. Many studies have shown that LGBTQ+ children experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than their heterosexual peers. Incorporating diverse storylines in family-friendly programming can help young viewers feel seen and loved. In fact, the National Education Association has stated that representation of LGBTQ+ youth on television is crucial and can have significant positive impacts on their overall wellbeing.
While it took a while for Disney, which faced pressure for many years to become more inclusive, to include a gay storyline, the move is still significant, as it sends the message of acceptance and compassion to young viewers. Andi Mack has been praised for paving the way for other shows on Disney, as well as other family-based networks, to follow its lead in creating storylines that are inclusive and authentic with regards to the LGBTQ+ community.
Is there a gay Disney Princess?
The question of whether there is a gay Disney Princess has been a point of discussion for many years. Many fans have been pushing for Disney to include LGBTQ+ characters in their films and promote more diversity in their characters. However, Disney has been slow to embrace this kind of representation, which has led many to question whether or not a gay Disney Princess exists.
Although there have been LGBTQ+ characters in smaller roles in some Disney films, there has never been a canonically gay Disney Princess. Fans have speculated about the sexuality of certain characters, such as Elsa from Frozen, but Disney has never confirmed whether or not these characters are LGBTQ+. There have been moments in Disney films that have been interpreted as queer, such as the scene in the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast in which LeFou dances with another man. However, these moments have never been enough to establish a character as gay.
Recently, the release of the new Disney film Raya and The Last Dragon has led to renewed discussions about the possibility of a gay Disney Princess. The film features a diverse cast of characters, and some fans have suggested that one of the characters, particularly Raya herself, may be LGBTQ+. However, Disney has not confirmed this, and it remains unclear whether or not the character is intended to be queer.
The lack of a gay Disney Princess has been a point of frustration for many fans looking for representation in their favorite films. However, Disney’s recent efforts to diversify their characters and storylines suggest that it is only a matter of time before we see an LGBTQ+ Disney Princess on screen.