5 Cartoons That Encourage LGBT Pride
I’ve wanted to do something to celebrate Pride Month all of June, but I couldn’t find the time, let alone what to do. Then a realization hit me: I have seen a notable increase in depictions of LGBT+individuals in animation in recent years. Adult cartoons have done it for a while, but recent years have seen kids cartoons show LGBT+ people openly or talk about related issues.
The cartoons we watch as kids not only make us laugh but teach us how to view the world. So, showing positive depictions of the LGBT+ community is going to teach kids that these things are acceptable and normal, which is good. Thus to celebrate the end of Pride Month, I’m giving you my top 5 picks of cartoons with positive LGBT+ depictions.
In 2012, Nickelodeon released a sequel to the hit show Avatar: the Last Airbender, Avatar: The Legend of Korra. While every bit as breathtaking and action-packed as its predecessor, A: TLoK ended up cementing its place in animation history for its portrayal of LGBT characters.
At the start of the show, the titular Korra developed a mutual crush on her friend, Mako, which led to the two becoming a couple. After realizing their relationship wasn’t going to work out, they decided to end it and stay good friends. Afterward, Korra started getting close to her friend Asami, a bond that strengthened as the series neared its end. When the series finale arrived, the show chose to end its run with Korra and Asami setting off on vacation together. The final shot of the series had them silently stare lovingly into each other’s eyes before the credits rolled. If there’s any doubt, though, the show’s creators confirmed in blog posts that the two were in a romantic relationship.s
This moment was a ground-breaker for western children’s animation; and considering that A:TLA and A:TLoK were already groundbreaking, that’s saying something. The confirmation of Korrasami was the first time a western kid’s cartoon had LGBT leads or an LGBT main character. When I saw the hints that the show had dropped, I was in disbelief, and admittedly, a little weirded out. I remember thinking, “are they doing this? Are we ready for this in a kid’s show?” Then I came to a realization: if it made Korra happy, then I was okay with it. Who am I to deny love?
#4- Star vs. The Forces of Evil
At one time, it would have seemed crazy for a company like Disney to show same-sex couples on their shows. The last few years, though, have seen them do just that. While Gravity Falls does have a gay couple in its cast, I chose Star vs. The Forces of Evil for this list because of its portrayal of LGBT relationships and challenging gender roles.
Marco Diaz, Boy Princess
Fans of the show know Marco Diaz as the hoodie-wearing, karate-loving best friend/boyfriend of Star Butterfly. While Marco’s more than proven himself capable of being very masculine (look at the abs), he’s also a boy in whose very much in touch with his feminine side. He enjoys cooking, and is good at it; wears ballet shoes at home because they’re comfortable, and is okay with dressing like a princess.
Marco’s alter-ego as Princess Turdina is famous in the show for being a source of inspiration for free-thinking princesses everywhere. Even when he eventually comes clean and admits he’s a boy, Marco’s fans decide they don’t care about his gender, because what he taught them about being themselves wasn’t wrong.
“He can be a princess if he wants to!” “Turdina is a state of mind!”
SvTFOE was very open about same-sex couples during its run on TV, with several couples shown on screen. In the season episode “Just Friends” Star, Marco, and Jackie are a concert for their favorite band, Love Sentence when all the couples start making out. Among them, you’ll find a male couple kissing, marking the first time Disney’s ever shown it on TV.
Another notable instance appears near the end of the show’s run when Jackie returns to Echo Creek after traveling abroad in France. While there, she met a girl named Chloe, and the show heavily implies the two are a couple. One of the show’s storyboard artists later confirmed that the two are dating.
#3- Adventure Time
I was there to see the first episode of Adventure Time, and I was lucky enough to be there for the series finale. By far one of the most famous cartoons of the decade, Adventure Time made Cartoon Network what it is today. It also had a surprise LGBT couple in the form of Princess Bubblegum and Marceline.
The show gradually reveals that the two were once in a romantic relationship and were close friends. Sadly, PB’s focus on protecting the Candy Kingdom led to them ending it on bad terms. Various events in the show’s run help patch things up between them, though. By the time the series finale comes around, the two have become an item once more.
While I never paid much attention to their relationship, I won’t deny that PB and Marcy make a good couple. Plus the progression of their relationship helps show off character development in both characters. Maybe PB more than Marceline, though.
You guys know by now that I’m a big fan of One Piece, given my review/recap series for the manga. Of the thousands of fantastic characters that we’ve had in the manga and anime, some of my favorites have been Okamas. A Japanese slang term for gay men, in the world of One Piece, Okama refers to transgender men.
The Okama’s in One Piece are among the most selfless and friendly people I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction. Despite their appearance creeping some people out, they are very friendly to people. The cool part is that their leader, Emporio Ivankov, has a Devil-Fruit power that lets him alter a person’s body at will, even changing their biological gender. That brings gender-fluid to a new level.
My favorite Okama, though, has to be the one we call Bon Clay. Despite starting as an enemy, this lovable character ended up becoming close friends with Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. Their friendship was so strong that Bon Clay sacrificed himself so Luffy and his friends could escape capture. On two separate occasions, no less. I wish we all had a friend like Bon Clay.
#1- Steven Universe
There’s not enough time in the day to discuss how much of an impact this show has had. Even so, it wouldn’t be pride month if I didn’t include this. This is the cartoon that has made teaching others universal themes of love and acceptance its goal, Steven Universe.
Rebecca Sugar’s groundbreaking creation has had the concepts of love and relationships at its core since the very beginning. At their heart, the Crystal Gems are the outcasts of their society, a conflict that many LGBT people have faced. It’s left them with a lot of emotional issues when the show starts, but they overcome them through the love they have for each other.
Love is the core of Steven Universe’s story, and the show teaches kids that love is not black and white. It’s a whole rainbow of colors and relationships, and like the gem fusions, it can take more than one form. There’s the love between romantic partners, between one’s family, love for friends, and above all, learning to love yourself no matter what the world may say.
I could ramble on, but I think you get the point, and others can phrase more eloquently than I can. As a person who supports free will and love in all forms, I encourage cartoons to keep re-defining gender identity and love as we head into the future. Heaven knows that we need to build bridges rather than burn them in this world.
By the way, I thought Ruby and Sapphire’s wedding was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in a cartoon. They’re one of my favorite couples in fiction!
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