Disney took a monumental step Friday, Oct. 27, in having their first featured coming-out story for a teen in a live-action show. The series, “Andi Mack,” features thirteen-year-old girl, Andi, and her closest friends Cyrus, Jonah and Buffy. In a very well-directed, tender scene Cyrus confesses to Buffy he has a crush on Andi’s new boyfriend Jonah. Cyrus talks to his friend Buffy over dinner saying he feels, “weird, and different,” to which Buffy says, “Cyrus, you’ve always been weird, but you’re no different."
It is so important for the media to put these kinds of characters on television shows where children will see them. When a child’s favorite character on a television show comes out as homosexual, or any of the other LGBTQIA identities, it is taking a huge step towards normalizing these identities for children. Although this step seems like it is coming a little late, I believe the most important thing is that this happened at all. There have been other homosexual couples on television series and there have even been homosexual couples featured in some of Disney’s older work. Pixar, a Disney bought company, had a lesbian couple shown in their movie Finding Dory which came out in June of 2016. This was a huge deal and brought about a large amount of discussion. However, because this particular coming out story is of Cyrus, a thirteen-year-old boy, I think it will have a stronger effect on the public and, more specifically, the younger generation.
There has been major backlash against the new development of this show. Specifically, an anti-LGBT(QIA) organization called One Million Moms (1MM) has spoken out fiercely on Disney’s choice to reach an “older audience." The group, who despite their name have “just 3,722 mostly-male Twitter followers,” has launched a boycott petition against Disney asking pledgers not to support them unless they “produce family-friendly entertainment” again. The organization even goes as far as to acknowledge that Disney is trying to move forward and promote slightly more mature content to its viewers. They then claim, by doing this, Disney is sacrificing something more important than teaching our children to be more tolerant and accepting: they are sacrificing the children’s innocence. These statements, along with the statement that, “the show was corrupting children and enticing them into a homosexual lifestyle,” are both ridiculous and untrue. If a child comes out as homosexual after being exposed to this content on a Disney show, the idea most likely was already in his or her head, and seeing the show gave them the confidence to voice their identity. Showing moments like this one on “Andi Mack” will help teach the younger generations to be more tolerant and accepting of same-sex relationships rather than being homophobic.
Now more than ever, the media needs to normalize and handle these complex subjects with a realistic approach. It comes as such a shock when characters in movies and TV shows, as well as people in reality, come out of the closet. This shouldn’t be such a shocking announcement. The shock factor comes from the previous decades of saying that being homosexual makes you different from everyone else who is not. The reality is, we are all the same. The sentence, “I am gay,” should elicit the same response as if someone had told you that they were going away on vacation. There will, of course, be a response but it should not be one of shock or disbelief. I believe that by normalizing LGBTQIA relationships on TV, in movies and in books that we will be closer to achieving the acceptance of how normal it is for people to love whoever they want.
Kaitlyn Pierce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.