Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MOMBIAN Needing more than a moment: LGBTQ representation in children's media
by Dana Rudolph
2020-03-04

This article shared 4349 times since Wed Mar 4, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The Academy Award-winning songwriters behind Disney's Frozen, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and husband Bobby Lopez, announced recently that they are working on Universal Pictures' movie musical adaptation of The Prince and the Dressmaker, Jen Wang's award-winning graphic novel about a genderqueer prince. Although no release date has been announced, it will likely be the first children's feature film to star a clearly queer character—making this a good time to assess the state of LGBTQ representation in children's film and television.

Much queer representation in children's media has felt like too little, too late. The new Disney Pixar film Onward, about two teenage elf brothers on a quest to magically reunite with their dead father, includes the studio's first clearly queer character who speaks, cyclops Police Officer Specter ( voiced by actor Lena Waithe, herself a lesbian ). She appears only in one scene, though, pulling over a driver who complains about his girlfriend's children. She comments, "My girlfriend's daughter got me pulling my hair out."

Because the character has a name and dialog, though, her depiction is a step up from the brief moments in Disney Pixar's 2019 Toy Story 4 when a background character is dropped off at school by two moms, then picked up and hugged by them. ( Some have also argued that the studio's Finding Dory briefly showed a two-mom couple, but the filmmakers refused to confirm it, and lead voice actor Ellen Degeneres, who should know these things, denied it to the Associated Press. )

Dreamworks' 2019 How to Train Your Dragon 3 did a little better. Blacksmith Gobber, a secondary but important character, clearly admired another male character's physique in a couple of scenes. The 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 had also hinted at his sexuality with a vague reference to a "reason" he hadn't married, although that line makes less sense after marriage equality.

The first clear instance of an LGBTQ character in a mainstream children's film, however, was Universal Pictures' 2012 ParaNorman. Right before the end, we learn that the older brother of the protagonist's best friend is gay. The point may have been that his gayness didn't matter as much as the rest of his character, and that's valid—but it felt like it was played for the surprise factor.

Similarly, Disney's 2014 live-action feature film Beauty and the Beast, which director Bill Condon said would have an "exclusively gay moment," saved that moment until the very end, when villain LeFou dances with a man for a couple of seconds, in what could also be read as an accidental stumble on the dance floor.

A number of television shows for elementary and middle-grade children, too, have shown same-sex relationships only in the last season or last episode, including Gravity Falls ( Disney XD ), Good Luck Charlie ( Disney Channel ), My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic ( Discovery Family ), Adventure Time ( Cartoon Network ), Dawn of the Croods ( Netflix ), and Star vs. the Forces of Evil ( Hulu ). And in Legend of Korra ( Nickelodeon ), the revelation of a same-sex relationship in the very last scene of the series was so vague that the creators issued a statement to confirm it.

Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender showed a main character, Shiro, with a male fiancée in the penultimate season, but the fiancée died shortly thereafter. Many fans complained that this exemplified the "bury your gays" trope, and that the series never authentically developed Shiro's identity. They weren't assuaged when Shiro married another man in the series' very last episode.

Other shows for this age group, however, have shown more LGBTQ inclusion across the spectrum and with ongoing characters. They include Steven Universe ( Cartoon Network ); She-Ra and the Princesses of Power ( Netflix ); Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts ( Netflix ); The Dragon Prince ( Netflix ); Twelve Forever ( Netflix ); OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes ( Cartoon Network ); Craig of the Creek ( Cartoon Network ); The Loud House ( Nickelodeon ); Danger & Eggs ( Amazon ); Andi Mack ( Disney ); Clarence ( Cartoon Network ); and Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling ( Nickelodeon ).

Shows for preschoolers, too, are slowly becoming more inclusive. Chip and Potato ( Netflix ), Pete the Cat ( Amazon ), and Bug Diaries ( Amazon ) all have ongoing characters with same-sex parents, and the rainbow-themed school on Chip and Potato has all-gender restrooms. A few others have had queer characters in single episodes, starting with the 2005 Postcards from Buster episode "Sugartime" ( PBS ), which showed a two-mom family. This episode was denounced by President George W. Bush's Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who asked the producers to return all federal funding. More recently, the 2017 Doc McStuffins episode "The Emergency Plan" ( Disney Channel ) featured a two-mom family, and the 2019 Arthur episode, "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" ( PBS ), showed Arthur's teacher marrying a husband.

The venerable Sesame Street has given a few mentions to two-mom and two-dad families in recent years and showed Muppet Grover in a dress in the 2017 song "Anyone Can Play," about breaking down gender roles. And actor Billy Porter ( Kinky Boots, Pose ) appeared as a guest in the upcoming 51st season, wearing a black tuxedo dress, per photos that the show posted to social media. This will be the first season where episodes will debut on the streaming service HBO Max before airing on PBS Kids. Given the Postcards from Buster hullabaloo and the current federal administration, that may unfortunately be the only way the show can both survive and produce queer-inclusive content.

The first and only mainstream television series for very young children that focuses primarily on a family with queer members, however, is Hulu's The Bravest Knight, about a girl learning to be a knight with the help of her two dads. The first season premiered last year; a second has not yet been confirmed.

We need more LGBTQ characters in children's media for all ages, both as minor characters who are simply part of the world and, more importantly, as protagonists or parents of protagonists, so that viewers can engage with them more fully. Studios should come up with original stories or, like Universal, look to some of the many excellent LGBTQ-inclusive children's books for ideas. All children will benefit from seeing themselves, their families, and their world more fully represented.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


This article shared 4349 times since Wed Mar 4, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Actress Olympia Dukakis dies at 89
2021-05-01
Olympia Dukakis—who won an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1987 hit Moonstruck and starred in Look Who's Talking and Mr. Holland's Opus as well as iterations of TV's Tales of the City—died May 1 at her home in New York City ...


Gay News

Mackenzie Lansing lands juicy role on 'Mare of Easttown'
2021-05-01
Mackenzie Lansing is an out and proud performer who is currently on the rise. She's part of the cast a brand-new HBO televisions series called Mare of Easttown. Lansing grew up between Villebon-sur-Yvette, a small town ...


Gay News

Warrant issued for Joliet teacher accused of inappropriate communication with teen boy [UPDATE]
2021-05-01
Joliet police issued an arrest warrant for a former Catholic school teacher accused of inappropriately communicating with a teenage boy, a. Fox32Chicago.com item reported. Jeremy M. Hylka is facing charges of traveling to meet a child ...


Gay News

New report examines bans on medical care for trans youth
2021-04-29
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new policy spotlight report, "Efforts to Ban Health Care for Transgender Youth." In 2021 alone, legislatures in 22 states have introduced bills to ban best practice medical care for ...


Gay News

SAIC hosts 'Debunking Conversion Therapy' virtual panel
2021-04-28
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosted a virtual panel, "Debunking Conversion Therapy," on April 23 that focused on how people have been negatively impacted by conversion therapy, what the Bible says and ...


Gay News

'Drag Race' finalists GottMik, Rose to perform in Chicago on May 28-30
2021-04-28
Voss Events announced that RuPaul's Drag Race finalists GottMik and Rose are joining the cast of the springtime edition of outdoor-concert series Drive 'N Drag Saves 2021. The tour stops by Chicago's Soldier Field on May ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Joe Exotic' series, Luther Vandross, singer's announcement, star couples
2021-04-25
Hedwig and the Angry Inch's John Cameron Mitchell has been tapped to play the title character opposite Kate McKinnon in the series Joe Exotic (working title), Deadline reported. The limited series centers on Carole Baskin (McKinnon), ...


Gay News

Caitlyn Jenner declares gubernatorial run
2021-04-23
Former Olympic champion, reality-TV star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner is running to be governor of California, as a recall of the sitting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newson moves forward. In a press release posted to Twitter, ...


Gay News

Netflix to debut limited series 'Halston' on May 14
2021-04-23
On what would have been legendary fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick's 89th birthday (on April 23), Netflix stated it was honoring the visionary icon by announcing the Friday, May 14, global premiere date for the five-episode ...


Gay News

HRC to honor FX show 'Pose' at national virtual event 'Time for Equality Live'
2021-04-20
--From a press release - Eight cast members and creators of "Pose," including Steven Canals, Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, Dyllón Burnside and Sandra Bernhard, will speak at event WASHINGTON ...


Gay News

GLAAD responds to increase in suicide attempts among trans youth in Arkansas
2021-04-19
--From a press release - (New York, NY - April 19, 2021) — GLAAD is responding to reports of an increase in suicide attempts among transgender youth in Arkansas, which on April 6 became the first U.S. state to outlaw gender-affirming ...


Gay News

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics hands out Dorian Awards
2021-04-19
--From a press release - LOS ANGELES, CA, April 18, 2021 — Nomadland, the spare and fact-based drama of a group of struggling Americans living off the grid; the vivid blueswoman biopic Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; the family-happy fish-out-of-water fable Minari; ...


Gay News

Former 'Bachelor' comes out as gay
2021-04-14
In a Good Morning America (GMA) interview that aired April 14, former Bachelor Colton Underwood came out as gay, Entertainment Weekly reported. "I've [run] from myself for a long time, I've hated myself for a long ...


Gay News

Students speak out after Pride flag removal at Indiana school [UPDATE]
2021-04-14
Students spoke out April 12 against the removal of Pride flags at a middle school in northwest Indiana, according to CBS Chicago. According to ABC7Chicago.com, a Black Lives Matter poster was also removed. LGBTQ students addressed ...


Gay News

More than 45,000 trans youth put at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care
2021-04-13
--From a Williams Institute press release - An estimated 45,100 transgender youth ages 13 and older in the U.S. are at risk of being denied gender-affirming medical care due to proposed and enacted state bans, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.