The Disney Channel made network history recently by featuring its first-ever teen same-sex couple on the final episode of its popular pre-teen drama series Andi Mack.
Fans of the show may remember that in October 2017 Cyrus Goodman, a friend of the show’s titular heroine, revealed he had a crush on a boy. Although the show subsequently left Goodman’s sexuality mostly unexplored, in February 2019, Goodman actually said “I’m gay,” another groundbreaking first for the channel.
Some fans worried that Goodman’s sexual orientation would remain unexplored throughout the series’ third and final season. But then, in its final episode, Goodman flirted and held hands with his friend T.J. Kippen, the once-arrogant captain of the basketball team whose vulnerable side gradually appeared over two seasons.
Instead of telling you about the scene, just watch it for yourself below:
Considering how rarely any show depicts a pre-teen same-sex romance, this is a pretty big deal and exactly the sort of media representation that young queer people need to see that their feelings are valid and positive. It’s an even bigger deal when you consider that it’s coming from a major cable network geared towards kids. (Andi Mack was the channel’s most popular program among six- to 14-year-old viewers.)
The show’s showrunner and creator Terri Minsky told Paste magazine:
“I feel like it’s so. much. for, you know, the captain of the basketball team, to hold hands with a boy in the middle of a party…. I think that first physical contact with somebody is so intense. The feeling of their hand and your hand intertwined, how unusual and connected and intense that is….
In terms of the story, it didn’t need a kiss. Adding a kiss would have been doing it just to do it, to be first, and I didn’t want that. I would love if we were going to go on and have another season or another story, I would love to have the first LGBTQ kiss on Disney.”
The scene also represents another of Disney’s continual steps towards depicting openly gay characters. In 2014, Disney featured a same-sex female couple in its live-action sitcom Good Luck Charlie. In August 2017, its animated children’s TV series Doc McStuffins featured a same-sex female couple voiced by lesbian actresses Portia de Rossi and Wanda Sykes. In February 2017, its animated adventure series Star vs. The Forces of Evil showed a non-recurring male same-sex couple kissing.
In August 2018, Disney announced that it would present its first-ever openly gay character in its 2020 action comedy film Jungle Cruise. However, the role will be played by straight actor Jack Whitehall and the character won’t utter the words “I’m gay,” making him more “coded” than explicitly gay. Baby steps though …