Disney history was officially made when the company’s titular channel finally just aired its first-ever same-sex kiss. This comes after the network aired its show, “The Loud House” which was the network’s first cartoon to feature a same-sex couple back in summer 2016. This time, however, their animated show “Star vs. the Forces of Evil,” is the one that made LGBTQ history. And I’m thrilled.
The latest episode of “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” shows two same-sex couples kissing, which is awesome, because it’s showing kids that being part of a same-sex relationship is not a big deal. But even if same-sex relationships are totally normal, it’s a big deal that it’s on Disney, because it never has been dealt with on the channel so explicitly before. Learning about gender and sexuality starts young–whether you want it to or not–and it’s about time major networks realized setting a positive and accepting precedent needs to happen. This is a bright spot in the current political turmoil.
The show centers around the main character, Star Butterfly, who battles evil space villains while trying to survive high school (which is the most terrifying of all). The latest episode features Star and her best friend Marco at a concert for boy band Love Sentence. During the concert, Marco leans in to kiss another boy. Meanwhile the shot pans out to show another same-sex couple kissing. Both of these couples are also appear to be bi-racial. So, this becomes a win on many different levels.
Over the past few years, the network has sprinkled in other nods to LGBTQ couples, such as the family sitcom “Good Luck Charlie,” in 2014 with a lesbian parenting couple, in 2016, animated show “Gravity Falls” has a same-sex couple, while “Finding Dory” also briefly includes a lesbian couple in a scene. And you know, if we’re going retro, “The Little Mermaid” character Ursula was reportedly inspired by legendary drag queen Divine (which I can totallllly see). So it’s been present before, just less explicitly, and less romantically.
But that’s not all. The live-action remake “Beauty and the Beast” has made headlines recently, because of it’s first openly gay film character, Gaston’s sidekick LeFou. The film’s director Bill Condon has described why this is so monumental–because the film is actually exploring it, not just mentioning it:
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”
While some argue LeFou is too “clownish” to be taken seriously–and while that is a valid point–we have to remember that it’s a film marketed to kids and young adults. In this medium, humor can often allow us to explore serious topics without it becoming too uncomfortable or heavy–which for kids would be a hard way to delve into the topic for the first time. For many kids, it may be. The message is, in part, that it’s also OK to be silly. It doesn’t mean you are any less important.
Being gay needs to be more than a subtle nod in films for kids–it needs to be explored if we’re ever going to normalize queerness and queer identity. Having a cast with gender and sexual diversity shouldn’t just be a checkmark, but a priority for companies. Being gay shouldn’t be something that kids feel they have to hide, it should just be another facet of their identity–and that kind of shame starts early unless we change things. So these new inclusions in TV and film shouldn’t be a chance to pat ourselves on the back–we still have a long way to go. But they are awesome starts, nevertheless.
While you’re at it, check out a clip from forthcoming film “Beauty and the Beast”: