Disney’s donations to anti-LGBTQ+ candidates supporting the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida and their botched response to the bill have sparked protest and outrage among their supporters and workers. Also concerning? The company’s historical portrayal of perceived LGBTQ+ characters as villains has created negative, harmful LGBTQ+ representation in animated films.
In short: Disney has not done enough to represent the LGBTQ+ community.
Thankfully, other animated projects believe in #DoSayGay. Here are six kid-friendly animated films and shorts you and your family should watch right now that don’t belong to Disney:
“Coraline,” 2009 (Laika Pandemonium Films)
Coraline, the American stop-motion animated fantasy that takes the viewer into a parallel world, was adapted to film in 2009. Neil Gaiman, author of the 2002 novel “Coraline” and the screenwriter of the adaptation, stated via Twitter that characters April Spink, a retired burlesque dancer, and Miriam Forcible, a former burlesque singer, are a couple.
Because I wanted the readers to have the same experience I did with the couple that Spink and Forcible were based on. It hadn’t occurred to me anyone would think that answering people’s questions about them in later years would be seen as a marketing tool.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) March 31, 2019
“Superman: Red Son,” 2020 (Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment Inc.)
Is Wonder Woman a lesbian? In the 2020 “Superman: Red Son” comic book adaptation, DC Comics and Warner Bros. share a different perspective on the beloved story we all know. Instead of landing in the United States, Superman lands in the Soviet Union as a boy, hence the title’s name.
At one point in the film, Superman grows close to Wonder Woman. She rejects a kiss from the superhero, explaining “I come from an island of all women” and “work it out for yourself.”
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” 2021 (Netflix)
In this 2021 sci-fi comedy, the lovably dysfunctional Mitchell family must work together to save Earth from a global robot uprising while on a road trip. Outside of the robot uprising, most of the storyline centers around the main character Katie Mitchell and her relationship with her father, Rick Mitchell. They come from two different worlds and never see eye-to-eye. However, as the story goes on, they both begin to see each other in a new light. By the end, the two understand and accept each other. This acceptance also includes Katie’s sexuality. While her sexual orientation is not blatantly discussed until the movie’s end, there are definitely hints about her crush Jade, a girl from school, along the way.
“Star Fallen,” 2018 (Created by Alex Tagali)
Two men meet and fall in love under the stars in this short, silent film. The pair hold hands while star-gazing, huddle under an umbrella while it’s raining, buy a home and live their lives together. They even grow old together. In just over two minutes, the short shares a story that positively represents LGBTQ+ love in its many stages.
“In a Heartbeat,” 2017 (Created by Beth David)
“In a Heartbeat” is a four-minute short about a boy who is at risk of being outed by his own (literal) heart. The heart refuses to stop throughout the short and eventually leaps out of the shy boy’s chest to get the crush’s attention. Over and over again, the boy races to stop the impulsive nature of his heart, but the heart wins. The boy is ultimately outed, and his crush learns of his adoration, but the result is more beautiful than the boy ever imagined.
“Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling,” 2019 (Nickelodeon Animation Studio)
Nickelodeon’s “Rocko’s Modern Life” reboot brings today’s more accepting and modern world to these early ’90s, out-of-touch characters, including a surprise trans storyline. As he’s acclimating to modern life after being stuck in space for 20 years, Rocko discovers that his favorite show from the ’90s, “The Fatheads,” is no longer airing. The movie’s entire premise turns into Rocko looking for Ralph Bighead, the creator, who based the series on his parents and Rocko’s neighbors Bev and Ed Bighead. When Rocko finds Ralph, he discovers that Ralph transitioned to Rachel and that she is in a happier place in life.