Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch spoke out on Sunday about Disney’s prior policy to censor any “explicit LGBTQ+” representation, through a series of tweets.
“Apparently ‘happiest place on earth’ meant ‘straightest,’” Hirsch added in the tweet. “But as of today, thanks to @DanaTerrace & team there are explicitly queer ANIMATED MAIN CHARACTERS on DISNEY TV. Im so proud & happy to say that #OwlHouse.”
This follows the recent revelation that at least one of the characters in the currently running Disney Channel series, The Owl House, is bisexual, reversing the company’s traditional policy of censoring any non-heterosexual relationships. The Owl House’s creator, Dana Terrace, is bisexual and currently dating Hirsch.
Gravity Falls, which ran on the Disney Channel from 2012 to 2016, features two male cops, Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland, who heavily hint throughout the series at a potentially romantic relationship. Hirsch has confirmed the two characters were in fact in a gay relationship, but that Disney wouldn’t let the team explicitly confirm it in the show itself.
“In 2012 the Disney censor note on this image would have been: ‘inappropriate for channel, please revise, call to discuss’ (to avoid a paper trail)” Hirsch added in a follow-up tweet. “Now in 2020- there’s no note at all. Props where props are due! This time, Disney- you did good.”
One of the first cases of LGBTQ+ representation in a cartoon from a children’s broadcaster was in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, where two nonbinary, female-presenting characters, Ruby and Sapphire, are in an explicitly romantic relationship and marry in the 2018 episode, “Reunited.” However, the two’s relationship had been hinted at since they first appeared in the 2015 episode “Jail Break,” where they share a brief kiss.
Since then, LGBTQ+ representation in children’s cartoons has remained woefully underrepresented, but marginally better. Arthur (Yes, the same cartoon which has been running on PBS since 1996) revealed that recurring character Mr. Ratburn was gay in the 2019 episode “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.”
Disney Channel has had some LGBTQ+ characters in its live-action shows dating back to 2014, but The Owl House features the channel’s first significant instance of such with two of its major female characters sharing a “grom” (prom) dance together (while fighting the fear demon Grometheus, as one does in a children’s cartoon).
“I’m bi! I want to write a bi character, dammit!” Terrace wrote in a tweet. “Luckily my stubbornness paid off and now I am VERY supported by current Disney leadership.”
“Representation matters!” Terrace added in a follow-up tweet. “Always fight to make what YOU want to see! As [The Owl House] continues I can’t wait to explore things that are important to me and my crew. Looking forward to the next chapter.”
The Owl House airs at 8:45 p.m. Saturdays on Disney Channel. Hirsch is currently working on an unannounced series at Netflix.
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