There are tons of gay cartoon characters, you just don’t see any aimed at children. The Smiths have gay neighbors on American Dad, and South Park has Big Gay Al after all, but they’re intended for adult audiences.
Of course, there have always been lots of coded gay characters — too many to count, in fact. Just look at Disney alone: There’s Ursula in The Little Mermaid (AKA Divine), Jafar reads totally gay in Aladdin, and Simba’s uncle Scar doesn’t exactly come off as straight. Come to think of it, which Disney villain doesn’t send the gaydar dial bouncing a bit? But that’s another post entirely.
Cartoon Network recently aired an episode of Clarence that features a (very) brief appearance by two gay characters, and it very well may be the first time it’s happened on the network (if we’re wrong about that, we’d love to know of any past examples).
The characters aren’t relevant to the plot in any way, and really only serve to be the punchline of a pretty tired joke. Woman waits for blind date. Attractive man shows up. Woman gets excited. Man turns out to be meeting his gay lover. Woman is forever alone.
Here’s the scene:
And yet the fact that they appear at all seems significant. They aren’t presented as characters to laugh at, but just as normal people.
But apparently the smooch only barely made it to air. A revealing Tweet from series voice actor and writer Spencer Rothbell suggests the network was uncomfortable broadcasting the same-sex affection.
Rothbell also had this to add on his blog:
It’s such a minor throwaway moment but I guess it’s better than nothing. Maybe one day the main character can be gay and it won’t be a big deal.
h/t Observation Deck