Is "Strange World" the first Disney movie that features a gay character?
No. But the 2022 movie is the subject of a Florida Department of Education investigation involving a fifth-grade teacher. Jenna Barbee alleged a Hernando County School Board member reported her to the DOE for showing her students Disney's"Strange World." It's the first Disney movie with an out, gay character.
In November at the Los Angeles premiere of "Strange World," star Jake Gyllenhaal said Disney's animated family adventure normalizes a "queer kid" character as part of its storyline about young people finding their own identity. Said Gyllenhaal: "who we are and what we meet and what meets us in our life is what forms our identity and what forms our world. To me, in this case, it's such a diverse and inclusive cast. This storyline and the idea of having a queer kid and just it being normalized, which I think is just such a beautiful thing. I love that, and I knew about that from the beginning. It was one of the reasons I thought this story was so interesting."
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Below are details about Disney's film "Strange World" and other times LGBTQ+ characters appeared on Disney TV shows and movies. Some characters had major storylines while others had a brief scene or subtle moments that referred to a same-sex couple. WARNING: Spoilers are ahead.
What is Disney's 'Strange World' movie about?
"Strange World," an animated sci-fi movie released by Disney in November 2022, depicts a group of explorers who go on an adventure to find an exotic plant that serves as their society’s source of energy. The main character, Ethan Clade,is gay. Played by Jaboukie Young-White, a gay comedian, Ethan Clade’s storyline includes having a crush on another male character named Diazo.
“Strange World” introduces a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land. The voice cast also includes Jake Gyllenhaal ("Brokeback Mountain," "Spider-Man: Far from Home"), Lucy Liu ("Kill Bill Vol. 1" and "Charlie's Angels") and Gabrielle Union ("Bring It On," "Friends").
Union and her husband, basketball star Dwyane Wade, have a 15-year-old daughter, Zaya, who came out as trans in 2020. Wade and Union have been vocal in their LGBTQ support and, amid anti-LGBTQ legislation, recently moved away from Florida because Wade said his family wouldn't be accepted here.
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Chris Evans stars as the title character "Lightyear," which audiences know from Disney-Pixar's "Toy Story" films. However, this story is not about the toy Buzz Lightyear, but rather, the astronaut and his adventure of being stuck in space. The film was released in June 2022.
The friendship between Buzz Lightyear and his commander, fellow Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) is at the heart of "Lightyear." The pair are marooned on a hostile planet.
Hawthorne is a lesbian, and the animated film shows her kissing another woman in a montage scene. She gets engaged to a science team member, and they have a life together, raising kids and sharing a smooch on their 40th anniversary. "I wouldn't have met her if we hadn't been stranded," Alisha tells Buzz.
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'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'
In Marvel's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," actress Xochitl Gomez plays America Chavez opposite Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange and Benedict Wong as Wong, sorcerer supreme. The trio takes on Scarlet Witch-slash-Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, in the adventure that travels through parallel worlds. Throughout a series of flashbacks, or multiverse scenes, viewers can see America has two moms.
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Was there a gay character on 'Andi Mack' on Disney Channel?
In 2017, "Andi Mack" made its debut on Disney Channel, and it was the first series on that network to feature a gay main character.
Peyton Elizabeth Lee played the title character, and her world is turned upside-down (just before her 13th birthday) when she learns her older sister is actually her mother, and her mother is actually her grandmother. Her best friends are Buffy Driscoll, played by Sofia Wylie, and Cyrus Goodman, played by Joshua Rush. Actor Asher Angel (the "Shazam" films) played Jonah Beck. With support from Andi and Buffy, Cyrus comes out to Jonah at a party (see video above).
The show aired for three seasons.
Is there a gay character in 'Thor' 3 and 4?
"Thor: Ragnarok" (the third film in the series) and "Thor: Love and Thunder" (Thor 4) feature two prominent gay characters. In "Thor: Ragnarok," Loki (Thor's brother, Asgard's god of mischief) confronts Valkyrie (who briefly enslaved Thor). In a slow-motion flashback, Valkyrie is seen crying over the death of her fellow female warriors, especially one killed by Hela (Thor and Loki's diabolical surprise sister). In "Love and Thunder," Valkyrie, played by actress Tessa Thompson, kisses the hand of a fair maiden and gives her a flirty look.
Viewers are first introduced to Korg, a rock guy-slash-Thor's video-game playing best friend in "Thor: Ragnarok." Voiced by the film's director Taika Waititi, Korg reveals in "Thor: Love and Thunder" that he is a Kronan, and all Kronans are born male. Korg falls in love with another Kronan named Dwayne, and the same-sex couple has a baby together.
Is Loki gay?
In Marvel's "Thor" film series, there's no reference to Loki's sexuality other than in the first film, when Asgard's god of mischief is fighting with his brother Thor, god of thunder. Loki insinuates he will go after Jane, Thor's main squeeze, and therein sparks an epic fight between the brothers.
In Marvel's scripted series "Loki," there is a reference to Loki being bisexual. While Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, and his handler Mobius, played by Owen Wilson, try to find a Variant wreaking havoc across time, they meet another Loki named Sylvie, played by Sophia Di Martino.
In one of the episodes, Sylvie questions whether Loki romanced would-be princesses or another prince on Asgard, raising her eyebrows and smirking. After a brief pause, Loki responds, "A bit of both. I suspect the same as you."
Loki is Marvel's first bisexual character.
Hiddleston and Di Martino will return in season two of the Disney+ show.
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Is there a gay character in Marvel's 'Eternals?'
In Marvel's film about immortals defending Earth, Brian Tyree Henry ("Atlanta," "Causeway") plays Phastos. According to the movie, after Hiroshima in 1945, Phastos loses faith in humanity, though he regains it in present day with the help of his husband and son.
The film, directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, co-stars Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Lia McHugh as Sprite and Barry Keoghan as Druig.
There's a same-sex kiss with Brian Tyree Henry's superhero character and his husband Ben Stoss (played by actor Haaz Sleiman), the first in a Marvel film. "Eternals" also has the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first love scene between Gemma Chan ("Crazy Rich Asians") and Richard Madden.
Is LeFou gay in Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast?'
In the 1991 animated feature "Beauty and the Beast," it's clear LeFou worships Gaston − as his best friend.
In the 2017 live-action film "Beauty and the Beast," starring Emma Watson (the "Harry Potter" films) as Belle, Luke Evans (the "Hobbit" films) as Gaston and Dan Stevens as the Beast, LeFou worships Gaston − and more.
LeFou, who was straight in the animated classic, was gay in this version. Portrayed by Josh Gad, LeFou sings that at times he wants to be Gaston and kiss Gaston.
Is there a gay couple in 'Toy Story 4?'
"Toy Story 4" introduces "Toy Story" fans to a new character named Forky. The fourth film in the beloved series also featured a subtle reference to a same-sex couple. In a brief scene, two moms drop their kids off to daycare.
Is there a gay couple in 'Star Wars?'
In the 2019 film "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which stars Mark Hamill as the title character, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, two same-sex characters kiss, the first time this has happened in a "Star Wars" movie. The scene is toward the end of the film and features two unnamed female Resistance soldiers in an embrace.
Is there a gay couple in 'Onward?'
In the Disney-Pixar animated film "Onward," MCU stars Chris Pratt ("Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Avengers" films) and Tom Holland ("Spider-Man" and "Avengers" films) play brothers Ian and Barley, who use a spell gifted to them on Ian's 16th birthday to magically conjure their dad − the bottom half of him, anyway − from his khaki pants to his signature purple socks.
According to the film description, "the brothers seek an ancient map from the Manticore — once a mighty warrior whose tavern served as a way-station for travelers embarking on epic quests. Part lion, part bat and part scorpion, the Manticore has adapted to changing times — but her adventurous spirt still lurks within. Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer voices Ian, the Manticore.
The brothers' quest to conjure the rest of their dad − the top half − is filled with magic, obstacles and unforgettable moments. The film features a lesbian character, a police officer voiced by Lena Waithe. Waithe's character is a purple cyclops who mentions her girlfriend.
Is there a gay character in 'Cruella?'
Like 2017's live-action remake of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," the 2021 film "Cruella" featured an LGBTQ character.
Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone ("La La Land," "Easy A") plays the title character, Cruella de Vil, who was first introduced in Disney's 1961 animated classic "One Hundred and One Dalmations." In the live-action spin-off, actor John McCrea plays LGBTQ character Artie, owner of a vintage clothing store who admires Cruella's sense of fashion.
Contributing: Ana Goñi-Lessan, Tallahassee Democrat; Brian Truitt, USA TODAY
Sangalang is a lead digital producer for USA TODAY Network-Florida. Follow her onTwitteror Instagram at@byjensangalang. Support local journalism.Consider subscribing to a Florida newspaper.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: List: Gay characters, same-sex couples in Disney, Marvel movies, shows