Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch claims Disney prevent him from including LGBT+ characters and compares his experience to that of Owl House.
Alex Hirsch, the creator of the children’s supernatural series Gravity Falls, recently spoke out about how he was prevented from including LGBT+ characters in his story during his time at Disney. Though Disney has publicly stated that they are in favor of including LGBT+ representation, there have been very few openly gay or trans characters in any of Disney’s recent works. The few gay characters that are represented, such as LeFou in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, often have very little screen time dedicated to accurately serving their identities.
Hirsch’s comments on Disney’s LGBT+ representation came not long after the release of a headline-making episode of Disney’s Owl House. This episode, titled “Grom,” confirmed that one female character, Amity, has a crush on the female protagonist Luz. The story was praised on social media for its realistic depiction of LGBT+ kids, something that has been absent from many other Disney Channel shows.
In a recent Twitter thread, Hirsch compares his experience running Gravity Falls to that of Owl House showrunner Dana Terrace. Hirsch confirms that though he attempted to push for LGBT+ characters in Gravity Falls, Disney executives prevented him from including explicitly gay characters. Though Hirsch expresses his frustration with this, he also praises the network for their change in attitude and notes how Terrace’s ability to depict LGBT+ main characters is a landmark for the network.
Since Gravity Falls ended, there have been plenty of other young adult cartoons besides Owl House that have pushed for greater representation of LGBT+ characters. One of the first shows in this category is Steven Universe, which first introduced a lesbian couple and continued to portray more LGBT+ relationships over its five-season run. More recently, the animated fantasy series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power became a symbol of LGBT+ representation after showing an on-screen kiss between the show’s two female main characters. However, both of these shows were released on non-Disney networks, and the difference in corporate culture may have accounted for the showrunners’ abilities to depict LGBT+ characters.
LGBT+ individuals have become more visible in children’s media in the past few years, which has a positive impact on the LGBT+ community as a whole. That said, Disney still has a long way to go to achieve equal representation. Though Owl House is an excellent first step, the company is still years behind other networks like DreamWorks and Cartoon Network in terms of LGBT+ representation. There are also plenty of other minority groups, including people of color, indigenous people, and people with disabilities who need to have their voices heard. It’s deplorable that young viewers were prevented from seeing positive representation in Gravity Falls, hopefully Disney will continue to change into a more accepting studio and make amends for their past failings.
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