saying gay

Tim Federle is making Disney more gay and we’re 100% here for it

If anyone’s on a mission to make Disney more gay, it’s Tim Federle. 

After all, the openly gay author, director, screenwriter, and all around wonder is responsible for some of Disney’s biggest and gayest hits.

Case in point: Federle is the creator, showrunner and executive producer of the Disney+, GLAAD Award-winning hit, High School Musical: the Musical: the Series (say that three times fast). In 2019, the show made history when it featured Disney’s first prominent gay romance and same-sex kiss.

“This is a story that would have changed my life if I had seen it when I was a kid,” Federle told The Los Angeles Times back when the kiss first aired. “And the reason it would have changed my life is because it’s no big deal. It’s actually just real life.”

 

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It’s a similar sentiment Federle shared with Queerty back in 2019.

“When it comes to the LGBTQ characters in the show, I don’t want to use their identities as a plot twist or a ‘tragic coming out’ arc,” he said. “Those stories are important to see—but if we want to change the conversation around gay identity, we also need to see characters who just are gay, already, and don’t have a problem with it. And in fact, embrace it.”

That said, Federle understands the impact something like a simple kiss can have on people across the globe. When it aired, Federle mentioned how, instead of receiving pushback for the lip lock, he received “hundreds of DMs from around the world from people saying ‘It means so much to see myself on screen.’”

But High School Musical: the Musical: the Series isn’t the only LGBTQ content Federle is responsible for on Disney. 

Earlier this year, he wrote and directed Better Nate Than Ever, a musical comedy (also on Disney+! Seriously, is Federle the Ryan Murphy of Disney? We stan!) about a thirteen year old named Nate who fantasizes about becoming a Broadway star.

Based on his novel by the same name, the film aims to portray a young LGBTQ person “at the beginning of discovery, rather than the beginning of declaration” when it comes to his sexuality, according to HuffPost.

“I wanted to bring to this a slightly younger POV of a middle-schooler discovering,” Federle said of the film’s storyline. “For me, who didn’t grow up with a movie like this, I know this movie would have made me feel seen and a lot less alone.”

 

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Of course, it’s difficult to put ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘Disney’ in the same sentence without addressing the elephant in the room. And by ‘elephant’ we mean the fact that Disney super donated to sponsors of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. 

It’s a point Federle is well aware of. So while he’s making history when it comes to LGBTQ representation on Disney, he gets that’s not necessarily enough. 

“Ultimately, good representation does not cancel out bad legislation,” he told Variety earlier this year when asked about Disney’s involvement in ‘Don’t Say Gay.’ “And what I’m hopeful for is that these first steps Disney’s taking now are only the first steps towards making the world a truly safer and more inclusive space.”

“I’m hoping the company is starting to take real steps toward broader inclusion and a more transparent process of how they make content,” he continued. “I think it’s an ongoing conversation for a reason, and… the fact that we’re still having the conversation means there’s still a long way to go.”

Let’s face it, being LGBTQ when you’re young can be rough. It’s easy to feel isolated and alone. So, we applaud Federle for all he is doing for kids and teens around the globe. By giving kids a space to see themselves represented or discover who they are, Federle is giving hope to millions. For the rest of us, Federle is making LGBTQ representation a refreshingly normal part of television – no sob story or ‘tragic coming out’ required. And for that, we can’t help but sing his praises.

 

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