Queer Representation in Children’s Entertainment

Imagine being a 10-year-old that has just realized that they have feelings for someone of the same gender but they don’t know how to deal with their feelings.

In 2017, Disney Channel aired the series, Andi Mack. It is about an Asian-American teenage girl living with her single mother, who had her when she was a teenager. In addition to this, Andi Mack tells the story of main character, Cyrus Goodman, who discovers he is gay and begins a journey towards self-acceptance. 

This show marks a huge step for Disney, as this is their first openly gay main character. When Cyrus first came out, he told one of his female friends. He explained that he liked a certain boy but that he felt bad about it. In the next season, he told one of his male friends that he was gay, actually using the word “gay.” This was the first time that the phrase, “I’m gay,” was used in a Disney production. In the series finale, Cyrus told a boy that he had feelings for him and they ended up becoming boyfriends. 

Heteronormativity is something that parents often instill in their children from a young age. They may not want their children to know about other sexualities because being straight is considered to be the default. There are far too many parents who believe that being gay is wrong, reinforcing their belief by refusing to teach their children about sexuality and acceptance. Some parents believe that children are too young to know about sexual orientations. Heteronormativity is especially common in Disney productions. Disney movies and shows often center around the idea that one can live “Happily Ever After.” A prince and a princess will fall in love at first sight and by the end of the story, they are married. There has never been an openly non-heterosexual romance between main characters before this series, making Andi Mack a big step forward in the future of children’s programming. 

Andi Mack has inspired children who know they are queer to come out. Through this show, children are being taught that it is okay to be gay and that they should also be accepting of those around them. Imagine being a 10-year-old that has just realized that they have feelings for someone of the same gender but they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. Far too many kids grow up in environments where they are shunned for being gay, or even worse, kicked out by their family. No child should have to grow up being ashamed of who they are. 

By teaching young children about different sexualities, they become more prepared for the world and the different people they may encounter every day. Teaching kids through entertainment that there is more than one kind of love will make them more open-minded and accepting of themselves and others around them. More importantly, this kind of queer representation in children’s entertainment is a milestone and only a portion of what Disney is capable of doing in the future.

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