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Why Disney Doesn’t Cast Gay Characters, Just Ambiguous Ones

We leave it up to our audience to interpret who these characters are and how they relate to them. It’s great that this child has interpreted Gunther this way and that it speaks to him in a way that makes sense for his life. And that’s what we’re trying to do — create a diverse cross section of characters on television that kids can have different access points and entry points to connect with.

—Gary Marsh, president of Disney Channel Worldwide, giving a bland response as to why the Disney Channel will cast sexually and ethnically diverse roles, but when it comes to shows like Shake It Up! the best they’ll do is offer characters that “suggest” gayness, as one 14-year-old fan did [via]

On:           Jan 13, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
    • Jorge

      Bull. You’re gonna tell me that showing the straight kids falling in love and having first kisses is leaving things up to interpretation?

      Jan 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave

      They might be portraying straight sexuality a bit young, but they’re pretty accurate about gay sexuality. Straight kids are dating and fooling around by like sixth grade. Gay kids are publicly ambiguous for a long time. If it weren’t for me being gay, I wouldn’t even have been aware that there were gay people. I don’t know how much things have changed in the past dozen years, but we were all just oblivious.

      Kids see straight couples interacting in public all the time; I have yet to see an obvious gay couple in public. They might be inserting younger people into more mature situations, but they’re just sticking to a standard of not exposing kids to anything they wouldn’t see in normal life.

      Would having seen gay characters helped when I was trying to figure myself out? Yes. Would any parent ever allow their child to watch anything like that? No. Parents want their kids to grow up in a bubble that meets their definition of normal. Disney just doesn’t want some group of concerned parents making a fuss and losing them money.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 1:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • testington

      the Disney Channel shows are such shit anyways, even when I was a kid I hated him. The hammy over-the-top acting is just too much I really can’t sit through it.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 3:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TommyOC

      @Dave: 1) Where do you live that you’ve NEVER seen a gay couple in public? I’ve got my suspicions, but thought I’d ask so as not to be presumptuous.

      2) If we want to inspire those uncomfortable with their sexuality, the best thing you can do is lead by example. If you don’t see a gay couple in public – strive to be that couple.

      3) I’m sure plenty of kids watch shows like “gLee” and “Degrassi.” We don’t have to rely on the Disney Channel to provide positive gay role models. It would be great if they did, but the angle’s covered by other great shows on more progressive networks.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 6:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rashid

      Complete and utter bull.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 8:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      Ugh, thats similar to the “Why Label” excuse that you always hear hollywood Closet cases use to defend themselves.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 9:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marcus


      I see obviously gay couples every day. I’m curious to where you live and I know dozens of young children who are openly gay are in middle school and they’re doing just as much as their straight counterparts.

      While that is not completely common, yes, it happens more than you would think…and not just in some liberal big city.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charlie Jackpot

      There are 2/3 ambiguous ones in that line up alone

      Jan 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree

      Disnedy dude said they offer “different access points ansd entry points to connect with”. What they hay does THAT mean? Sounds like ad-speak for “Um, we got nothing, really”!

      @Dave:, @Marcus:,
      Depends on what you mean by “obvious” gay couples. Even as a kid in semi-rural flyover country, I could spot the male-male couples due to their bodylanguage together, even if there was no PDA. Even if they dressed like everyone else more or less, the level of intimacy was pretty clear in how they interacted, how they looked at each other.

      Yeah, it’s pretty subtle, but it’s there. My dad and his brothers or his best friends don’t have that same level of attention, interest or care toward each other in public.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zeus

      I saw my niece watching some show on the Disney Channel once and one of the adult characters was such an overly stereotypical gay man (who of course had something to do with fashion, I think). It was kinda weird actually.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Camji

      It seems like they are referring them as homosexuality. But, to me (even tho I am gay) they just being who they are and just having a fun moments. So, stick it up and let it go. Why is everyone started to care about whos gay, whos not. I mean, whats the point?

      Jan 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Camji

      If you think about it, what or how would they present this charaters to those kids. Kids being homo and love it, cool. Kiss, its like a boy and girl. Now Boy kiss Boy and Girl kiss Girl, it will hit us. Its like finding it sooo new. That would be so cool. It would be nice, but once it brings up to issues that parents have, it’ll make it kind of worse. As long they keep it in their head, we are showing that we are here! I notices that a lot of middle schoolers hiding from stright people. They try to interact with them. It was hard, cuz they didn’t see gay couples in the dinsey. They felt like as if it was wrong. We should let them think its fine, cuz it was suppose to show diversity. Is that what its all about?

      Jan 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GG


      1) Where do you live that you’ve NEVER seen a gay couple in public? I’ve got my suspicions, but thought I’d ask so as not to be presumptuous.

      I live in a fairly open country (Canada) and in a relatively big city and I must say I have never seen one. Granted I surely have seen one without knowing but I think it’s out of the scope of your question.

      2) If we want to inspire those uncomfortable with their sexuality, the best thing you can do is lead by example. If you don’t see a gay couple in public – strive to be that couple.

      I would be glad to oblige but sadly, I’m not gay. I think this is really bright way to think and if everybody thought like that, we would change the society a little faster.

      Jan 14, 2011 at 8:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew

      @Dave: Have you ever heard of Degrassi? It’s the flagship show of Teen Nick and it’s had LGBT (including the T!) characters as far back as 2003.

      Both Victorious and another Nick show I can’t recall have heavy shout outs to gay characters too.

      There are options.

      I’ll be sticking with Viacom produced channels for now.

      Jan 15, 2011 at 6:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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