After Disney Channel introduced the network’s first ever teen gay romance in the show “Andi Mack,” the Disney+ “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” has now introduced a franchise first with a teenage gay romance of its own.
According to Newsbusters, the recent episode “Homecoming” featured a budding romance between the character Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez) and Seb (Joe Serafini) as the school’s Homecoming dance approaches.
“The musical’s choreographer Carlos nervously decides to ask cast member Seb to be his date,” the outlet reported. “Seb appears to say yes, but on the night of the dance, Carlos is left alone on the dance floor. He supports himself by dancing alone to a generic ‘be yourself’ pop song only to discover Seb arrived after all. The two then share a slow dance together as their relationship begins to bloom.”
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, actor Frankie Rodriguez said the episode reflects how far society has come in just a short amount of time since the government officially recognized same-sex marriage.
“I think we kind of forget where we were 13 years ago. Gay marriage wasn’t legal, so even though it seems like that was 50 years away, it really wasn’t,” said Rodriguez. “[The series is] really shedding light as to what high school life is like right now and making sure that those kids that have never seen themselves onscreen have, finally, someone to connect to.”
Actress Sofia Wylie, who plays the character Gina, echoed Rodriguez’s sentiments. “It’s all become much more normalized, and I think that’s really what the goal is,” she said.
The “High School Musical” phenomenon began in 2006 and launched actor Zac Effron’s career. The Disney+ series creator Tim Federle lamented to the LA Times that the franchise should have been more inclusive of LGBT characters earlier, a move that was arguably popularized by the hit show “Glee.”
“Maybe 13 years ago it wasn’t, even then, the time to embrace that fully,” Federle said. “I have an opportunity now on Disney+, which is, in its own way, trying to announce itself as being a … streaming channel where they’re going to surprise viewers.”
As stated earlier, the now-canceled Disney Channel show “Andi Mack” claimed novelty status in the network’s legacy by introducing the first teenage gay romance after consistently pushing LGBT representation since 2017 when the character Cyrus Goodman confessed to a friend that he liked another boy.
However, “Andi Mack” was not the first Disney Channel show to feature a gay couple. That occurred in 2014 on the show “Good Luck Charlie,” when it was revealed that a character had a lesbian mom couple.
“In the storyline, parents Amy and Bob Duncan (Leigh-Allyn Baker and Eric Allan Kramer) set up a playdate for preschooler Charlie (Mia Talerico) and one of her new friends,” TV Guide reported at the time. “When the kid arrives, the Duncans learn that Charlie’s pal has two moms. That’s fine, but the potential new friendship is put to the test as one mom chats with Amy, and the other is stuck listening to Bob’s dull stories.”
Earlier this year, the PBS television show “Arthur” made waves when a beloved character came out as gay by marrying his male partner.