We’ve come a long way from, “I Don’t Dance!”
While Disney movies still need to work on LGBTQ representation, Disney’s children’s and teens’ programming are surprisingly more progressive by the day. When High School Musical: The Musical: The Series first debuted in 2019, we introduced you to the show’s gay character Carlos. Played by Frankie A. Rodriguez, Carlos is an openly gay teenager and “Broadway nerd” who’s taken on the role of choreographer for his school’s musical.
The show full of meta and camp, as you can tell just from the name, is a mockumentary in the vein of The Office or Parks and Rec. Taking place at a fictionalized East High School, the school’s theatre department prepares for a production of High School Musical. But as the show has continued into its second season, the characters and drama have evolved and blossomed. That includes the show’s gay rep.
In a recent episode of the show, which airs on Disney Plus, a beautiful song and dance was shared between Carlos and his boyfriend Seb (played by Joe Serafini). Specifically, it’s Carlos who sings to Seb, and he does so to reassure his boyfriend after the two fought in the last episode. Meanwhile, Ricky, played by the recently out Joshua Bassett, accompanied the song on the guitar and with backup vocals.
In a recent interview with HuffPost, Rodriguez shared how much the scene meant for him. Not only is he openly gay himself, but he and Joe Serafini started dating after meeting on the show two years ago.
“This is the moment where Carlos is reassuring Seb, ‘You’re it, I really feel strongly about you, I choose you’ ― that’s the lyric,” He shared before adding, “We learn so much from television, so it’s important to show the different types of people who are out there. That adds to having compassion and learning how to understand people.”
This is the latest in a growing amount of representation from Disney’s kid/teen programming. Both in front and behind the scenes, Disney Plus and Disney Channel shows have been delivering where the movies have not. This new wave seems to have started when a character from the Disney Channel show Andi Mack came out as gay. He then received a romance at the end of the show. That character’s actor, Joshua Rush, then came out as bisexual in 2019.
That wasn’t the only LGBTQ representation on Disney Channel, however, as a few lesbian couples made guest appearances on shows like Doc McStuffins, DuckTales, and Good Luck Charlie. Though possibly Disney’s shining moment of late was the LGBTQ representation presented in The Owl House.
The Disney Channel show revealed its main character is LGBTQ in the 2020 episode “Enchanting Groom Fright.” In that episode, main character Luz danced with another female character named Amity. The two then kissed in the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins.”
Though, again, there’s plenty of LGBTQ representation behind-the-scenes when it comes to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Not only are Frankie A. Rodriguez and Joe Safrini out, but, again, Joshua Bassett came out this year as well. Plus, co-star Larry Saperstein also came out as bisexual during Pride month.
is it really that unexpected tho #pride
So it looks like LGBTQ representation is becoming more common in certain areas of Disney’s programming empire. And for the LGBTQ millennials and Gen Zers who grew up with nothing or suggested representation like High School Musical’s Ryan Evans, this is a glorious change of pace.