Our Favorite LGBTQIA Characters From the Disney Vault
When you promise gay representation, you should at least deliver a fully formed role.
The recently released villain origin story Cruella claims to have Disney's first major gay character, Artie, played by John McCrea. The studio, however, is being criticized because the character's sexuality is never actually addressed, but is mostly inferred from his androgynous glam fashion choices (that didn't stop some people from complaining that the character is retroactively ruining their childhoods).
Artie joins a long line of Disney "first openly gay characters," that, after all the pre-release hype, end up only appearing in disappointing, blink-and-you'll-miss-it background scenes. The first Star Wars gay kiss in The Rise of Skywalker was between two minor characters amid a lot of other action. The first Marvel gay character was unnamed during a group therapy session in Avengers: Endgame. It's not that these scenes don't matter — gay characters should absolutely exist in these universes, just like in the real world. But when you promise gay representation, you should at least deliver a fully-formed role.
And Disney has done that, but not always with as much fanfare as the aforementioned examples. In honor of Pride Month, here are Disney's best LGBTQIA characters. All of these shows are available on Disney Plus, which you can sign up for here.
Carlos Rodriguez (Frankie A. Rodriguez) and Seb Matthew-Smith (Joe Serafini), High School Musical: the Musical: the Series
On this meta-show about a high school production of High School Musical, Seb is a piano-playing farm boy whose parents raise cattle and sheep. Though he is shy and reserved, he shows his diva side when he plays Sharpay and proves that he's more than capable of filling Ashley Tisdale's Jimmy Choo flip flops. Meanwhile, student choreographer Carlos became instantly iconic in the trailer when a teacher asked him, "Is there somewhere you're supposed to be?" and he responded, "Broadway." Their relationship began when they attended homecoming together.
The show is currently in its second season and though they've had some relationship bumps, mostly due to class differences, they're still going strong, especially after Seb surprised Carlos with the Quinceañero he always wanted and serenaded him with Miley Cyrus's "The Climb."
Greg (Kyle McDaniel) and Manuel (Caleb Cabrera), Out
In this SparkShort, Greg is afraid to tell his parents the truth that he is in a loving relationship with a man, but he gets help with some Pixar magic. It is also worth watching season one, episode three of Inside Pixar to learn how writer/director Steven Clay Hunter's experience growing up gay in a small town in Canada inspired the project.
Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush) and TJ Kippen (Luke Mullen), Andi Mack
Andi Mack was a groundbreaking show for Disney Channel — the first to have an Asian American family at the center and the first to have a main character say the words, "I'm gay," when Andi's best friend Cyrus comes out to his friends. While some of the episodes are missing from Disney Plus, including the ones in which Cyrus comes out to Buffy and Andi, you can watch the scene above to see how sensitively his coming out was handled. However, one of Cyrus's best moments, season 3, episode 12 ("One in a Minyan"), is on the streaming site, and you can watch Cyrus come out to Jonah during his grandmother's shiva, which is much less morbid than it sounds.
TJ has a different journey, and his sexuality is never defined on the show. He starts out as Buffy's rival and at first seems like a jerky jock, but he develops a close friendship with Cyrus. In the series finale, TJ finally admits that he wants to tell Cyrus something, while holding his hand.
Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) and Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Runaways
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) doesn't have any out characters except for that one scene in Endgame, but Marvel fans looking for better representation can turn to Runaways, about teenagers with superpowers who have to battle their evil parents (yeah, it's dark stuff). Karolina is a pretty, white, blonde "good girl." Initially, it appears she will be matched with the popular jock, but the show subverts expectations by pairing her with Nico, the rebellious goth Wiccan. Did we mention that Karolina's power is literally emitting glitter rainbow light?
Carolyn "Mouse" Smith (Tisha Custodio), Big Shot
Big Shot, currently in its first season on Disney Plus, is about a basketball team at an all-girls prep school. One of the players, Mouse, has a crush on another student, Harper (a theater kid), and it's talked about by the other players on the team in the same way as the heterosexual crushes. In a recent episode, she sang Harper an adorable love song revealing her feelings and they kissed for the first time.
Sheriff Blubs (Kevin Michael Richardson) and Deputy Durland (Keith Ferguson), Gravity Falls
Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch has been vocal about the fact that Disney did not allow him to include explicit LGBTQIA content. Since then, the network has become more inclusive. Still, in the series finale, Hirsch found a way have his gay couple, Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland, two incompetent police officers, say, "We're mad with power…and love," while gazing into each other's eyes. Hirsch paved the way for later Disney Channel animated series like Big City Greens, which has a recurring hipster gay couple who live together.
Bobby Cañero-Reed (Charlie Bushnell), Diary of a Future President
Future president/current middle school student Elena Cañero-Reed's brother, Bobby, is popular and captain of the tennis team. When he gets his first girlfriend, he doesn't like making out with her, and lies about it, while getting closer to his teammate Liam (Brandon Severs Jr.). Camila, Bobby's mom's co-worker and friend, suspects he likes Liam as more than a friend and wants to create a safe space for him in the home she shares with her girlfriend, even though Camila herself isn't out to her parents. "Camila is not ready to tell her parents yet and that's part of her process," her girlfriend explains to Bobby. So far, Bobby hasn't come out to anyone. He changed his mind at the last minute about telling Liam his true feelings, but we're excited for his process to continue in season two.
Amity Blight (Mae Whitman) and Luz Noceda (Sarah-Nicole Robles), The Owl House
The Owl House is about a Dominican-American teenager, Luz, who gets stuck in another world and becomes a witch's apprentice. Amity is introduced as a bully, but as the show progresses, she and Luz become friends. In season 1, episode 16 ("Enchanting Grom Fight"), Amity is afraid to ask Luz out to grom (witch school prom), but Luz, not realizing that she is the one Amity wants to ask, says she will go with her as a friend and they dance together in a beautifully animated scene. Creator Dana Terrace confirmed that Luz is bisexual, another Disney Channel first, and that Amity is a lesbian. Season two started on Disney Channel on June 12.