The Disney Channel made headlines this week by airing an episode of its hit show Andi Mack in which one of the main characters, a 13-year-old boy named Cyrus (pictured above), comes out as gay.
As the video below shows, Disney has been consistently incorporating homosexual themes and characters into their brand of children's entertainment for some time now:
According to the clip, the Disney Channel sit-com Good Luck Charlie debuted its first lesbian characters back in January 2014.
In February 2016 Disney confirmed that Bucky and Pronk from the movie Zootopia are the first openly gay characters in a Disney film. That movie went on to make over a billion dollars at the box office.
Disney went on to subtly air its first gay kiss in the background scenes of a popular cartoon show called Star vs. The Forces of Evil in February 2017.
In March 2017, LeFou from Beauty and the Beast became the first openly gay character in a live-action Disney film.
In June 2017, Disney debuted its first "coming out" scene in a show titled The Lodge.
And then on Friday, Disney aired its most recent episode of Andi Mack in which Cyrus becomes the first openly gay main character on the Disney Channel.
According to Deadline Hollywood, Andi Mack is "The coming-of-age series, starring Peyton Elizabeth Lee as the 13-year-old title character, premiered in March, becoming the top series of the year among girls (median age is 10) and #1 in its time period among all children ages six-14. It holds the top series spot on Disney Channel VOD, Disney Channel’s DisneyNOW app and on Disney Channel UK."
Befored airing the new Andi Mack episode, Disney apparently consulted child development experts and screened the show for organizations including GLAAD, PFLAG, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and Common Sense Media, who all thought this sounded like a perfect storyline for the six-to-fourteen-year-old audience members:
“With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “Television reflects the real life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.”
Jaime M. Grant, Executive Director, PFLAG National, said, “Sharing one’s innermost self can be challenging, and to do so as an adolescent can be particularly so, especially when in the midst of figuring it out for yourself. Coming out requires honest self-reflection, no small amount of bravery, and a safe place with at least one trusted person – a friend, a parent, a teacher – who can hold your confidence…and your heart. Andi Mack’s creative team captures this moment of revelation with such thought, care, and authenticity; it will be a memory moment for some, and a teachable moment for many.
Here is the Walt Disney Company's general statement on its stories and characters: