The cast of Andi Mack | © IndieWire.Com
On Feb. 8, a very special episode of one of Disney Channel’s newest live action series "Andi Mack" premiered. In the season three episode, titled “One in a Minyan,” a character named Cyrus comes out as gay to his friend Jonah. While this may not be our first taste of positive LGBT+ representation on the Disney Channel, this episode marks an iconic moment in the network’s history and paves a pathway for a future of representation in the Walt Disney Company as a whole.
This scene in particular is important for three reasons:
One: The casual manner in which Cyrus managed to come out to Jonah: the characters are in the middle of a discussion about food at the funeral of Cyrus’ grandmother. This relaxed style of confession is comforting because it sets up the idea that this is a completely regular conversation to have with a friend. Normalization is the key to acceptance and the writing in this scene is bursting with equality.
Two: The outpouring of support from friends Andi and Buffy before Cyrus tells Jonah his secret, as well as the calm and quiet acceptance from Jonah afterwards. The reason Jonah’s response is so impactful is because it pretty much just feels as though Jonah is adding the new info to a list of things he knows about Cyrus, as opposed to making a scene about being proud of him or something along those lines. Again, this reinforces the idea of normalizing a cornucopia of sexualities.
Three: This is the first time anyone on the Disney Channel has ever said the words, “I’m gay,” which is just a monumental moment all on it’s own!!
As previously stated, this episode of "Andi Mack" is not the first time we’ve seen LGBT+ representation come out of Disney Channel. Cyrus first came out about having a crush on Jonah, Andi’s boyfriend, in season two of the show. Additionally, in early 2014, an episode of now-cancelled Good Luck Charlie aired, premiering the first same-sex couple in Disney Channel history. The season four episode “Down A Tree” debuted shortly before the series finale and showed Charlie on a playdate with the daughter of a lesbian couple. The episode received both extreme outrage for the display, and exalting praise for not only the portrayal, but the nonchalant manner in which they were introduced.
So what does this mean for the future of LGBT+ representation on Disney Channel, and in the company as a whole? Well, for starters, in addition to the groundbreaking "Andi Mack" episode, Disney has announced that Disneyland Paris will hold the company’s first ever official pride event in June.
In fact, for the past several years, Disney has been leaning towards a more LGBT+ positive outlook. In 2018, the Parks sold pride-themed ear hats that could be purchased in various locations throughout the Parks. It can soon be expected that the conservative-friendly “rainbow pride” events, which have been unofficially and lovingly nicknamed “Disney Gay Days” may have a permanent and unashamedly LGBT+ positive title in the future.
“Gay Days” group photo | © gaydays.com
But why do these examples matter? The sudden and unashamed outpouring of queer representation matters for the same reason that all other forms of representation matter: people want to feel accepted, welcomed, and loved. And in a modern society where there are all kinds of identities and exciting ways to express yourself, Disney Channel’s target demographic of pre-teens and teenagers deserve the opportunity to learn while they are still young that they don’t have to be afraid of who they are. And who better to normalize a more inclusive spectrum of love than the inventor of modern-day romance, the Walt Disney Company? Progress is coming in small steps, but one small step for corporate America is one giant leap for queer-kind.