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What Does Disney Channel’s First Coming Out Story Mean For The Future?

Written by Cliff Gill

The Disney channel is set to make history with its first gay coming-out story marking a change in the way young adult TV is being made.

Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack” is the show that will make history and will feature the network’s first storyline about a gay character coming out.

The show is set to be a comedic drama from Terri Minsky, creator of the hugely successful “Lizzie McGuire”. The show will follow 13-year-old Andi, played by Peyton Elizabeth Lee, as she navigates her early teen. In the Season 2 premiere, Andi’s friend Cyrus, played by Joshua Rush, will begin his coming-out journey.

Not The First Gay Character From Disney

Disney has had gay characters before and you may remember “Beauty and the Beast” making the headlines earlier this year for featuring an openly gay LeFou. Disney XD’s animated series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” also made history during its second season when it included Disney’s first ever same-sex kiss.

Prior to this, gay characters have been alluded to in popular teen franchises such as “High School Musical”, but “Andi Mack” will be the first show feature a teen coming-out.

Andi Mack became a hit after it debuted in March of this year and quickly became the top series for girls aged six up to fourteen. It also holds the top spot on Disney Channel VOD, the DisneyNOW app, and on Disney Channel UK. It is the first Disney franchise to center a storyline around a major character coming-out as gay.

In the coming out scene, Andi’s best friends Buffy and Cyrus are talking when Buffy realizes that Cyrus is upset about something. After asking him if he’s sad because he has a crush on Andi, she figures out that he is emotional because he actually has a crush on Andi’s new boyfriend Jonah. The scene goes as follows:

“I feel weird, different,” he confesses.

“Cyrus, you’ve always been weird, but you’re not different,” Buffy tells him.

“You’ll be okay. I promise,” she adds.

“This is really bad timing. I just got a girlfriend,” Cyrus says, referring to Iris, who he kissed in the episode.

Subsequent episodes in the series will follow Cyrus’ ongoing story, which will include him wrestling with how to tell his new girlfriend Irish. Both Minsky and Disney Channel consulted with child development experts to ensure the story arc is age appropriate and respectful. They also screened it to organizations including GLAAD, PFLAG, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and Common Sense Media.

Is Andi Mack The Wave of the Future?

Cyrus’s story line in Andi Mack isn’t the first mature storyline we’ve seen this show introduce. The story line that was featured in the pilot episode showed Andi discovering that her big sister, Bex, was actually her biological mother. For a tween-focused show, this is a particularly mature storyline.

For those that haven’t heard about the show, Andi Mack is a story about tweens figuring out who they are according to a Disney Channel spokesperson. They went on to say, “Everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and

sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”

The upcoming story line for Andi Mack has earned praise for the media advocacy group GLAAD.

“With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the organization’s president and CEO.

She also went on to say, “Television reflects the real-life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.”

GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ community since 1985. They rewrite the script for LGBTQ acceptance and as a dynamic media force, they tackle tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.

A Bold Move For Disney, But Not A First

It’s a bold move for Disney, but not the first of its kind.

In Australia, a TV series is in production that features a transgender character and her struggles to be seen as who she really is.

We also saw transgender teen Jazz Jennings sign up to star in TLC reality series to show the love and support of her friends and family. Other LGBTQ shows for teens include Supergirl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I am Jazz, It Gets Better, Becoming Us, Coming Out on MTV, Degrassi, The Fosters, and Glee.

Joshua Rush, who plays Cyrus, also spoke about the storyline in an Instagram post where he said, “Starting conversations about trust, love, relationships, and family dynamics is easier when you have a show that you can relate to. “Andi Mack” gives young people and their parents, mentors, and champions a meaningful way to talk about these topics and the power to decide their futures. I’m so proud to bring Cyrus’ groundbreaking storyline to life and for you to see what we’ve been working on.”

Andi Mack has been banned in Kenya for having a gay character, but rating around the world continue to surge. Disney released a general statement on stories and characters in which they stated, “Disney remains committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children.”

LGBTQ Widely Accepted For Adults

LGBTQ is widely accepted in adult television and movies as was demonstrated by the popularity of Netflix’s Sense8 which garnered a massive following. It’s also has it’s own place in the casino world too with plenty of gay casinos. Tom’s casino, the first gay online casino was launched back in 2016 to great approval. It doesn’t just offer online casino games from top software providers, it also works to support gay rights around the world. There are lots more sites where Canadians play and more will follow.

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