Strange World Gay Relationship: Disney has consistently done the bare minimum regarding LGBTQ representation, from Ursula to Elsa to Luca. They’ve given us villains with queer codes, background characters who could be lesbians, minor characters with lines that are simple to remove, or main characters who seem subtextually queer but won’t dare say so.
Incredibly, the studio also published Strange World, which has a primary character unmistakably gay, in the same year that recently ousted Disney CEO Bob Chapek received criticism for the company’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill—finally feeling like a worthwhile representation this time around.
Is Ethan Claud From Strange World The First Openly Gay Young Hero From Disney?
Strange World, a multigenerational adventure starring three Clade family members, is directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen. Burly masculine Jaeger Clade (voiced by Dennis Quaid) is a beardy character that enjoys adventuring, taking on monsters, and acting rashly. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character as his kid Searcher Clade a more subdued version of masculinity.
He is a farmer and an intellectual who takes great delight in giving his teen son unceasingly acute care. The kid in question is Ethan Clade (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), who, like his father, does not wish to follow in his father’s footsteps. He aspires to carve out his way.
Ethan isn’t interested in farming; instead, like his grandpa Jaeger, he is far more intrigued by the potential possibilities of exploration. He is not precisely like his grandfather, though, as they have different ideas about what an expedition is when it comes to conquest.
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The drama being played around the globe, as boomers, millennials, and Gen Z clash over everything from conversational manners to climate change, is reflected in Strange World through these three generations.
As a result, I prepared myself for the inevitable generational conflict over queerness when it was discovered that Ethan was gay. Undoubtedly, Searcher has no problems with his son’s sexual orientation. He even exudes sincere enthusiasm when Ethan’s crush Diazo visits the property.
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In the middle of a journey to save their World, Ethan and his grandfather have a peaceful time together. If the boy has a sweetheart, the older man inquires. Although Ethan and Diazo aren’t officially dating, their passion is palpable in Ethan’s flushed cheeks. I prepared myself for the inquiry I had anticipated from heteronormative media:
What Is His Name?
However, Nguyen’s screenplay completely avoids this stereotype and the homophobia it brings with it. Instead, Jaeger asks, “Who is it?” with excitement.
Who Is The Grandson’s Sweetheart?
The gendered expectation that his grandson’s sweetheart is a girl is abruptly dispelled. Sweetheart is gender-neutral, so Nguyen’s writing deftly accommodated the idea. When Ethan answers, his grandfather—whom he has never met—discovers the boy is gay without being surprised. It’s not a problem.
Not even a consideration. And that’s very thrilling because the LGBT identity of this teen kid isn’t used as a plot device. The film is not using his identity as a coping mechanism for trauma. Instead, Strange World admits that LGBT children can exist in media without their identity being used as a teaching opportunity.
How Has The Portrayal Of Gays In Disney Movies Improved Over Time?
It’s been challenging to find queer representation in films and television. Early on, characters with gay codes were frequently swaggering antagonists whose fabulousness made them fascinating but also othered them.
This trend in Disney films was particularly noticeable in the 1990s with characters like Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Scar from The Lion King, and Jafar from Aladdin. In the 2010s, gay characters were used as scene decoration, and Toy Story 4, Finding Dory, and Zootopia all featured ostensibly same-sex couples in the backdrop.
To identify with prominent characters, viewers had to dig deeper for features commonly categorized as queer. As a result, viewers identified with Elsa from Frozen, the males from Luca, and the feuding teenagers from Raya and the Last Dragon as LGBTQ.
Alternatively, Josh Gad’s embarrassing performance as the live-action LeFou in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which director Bill Condon said would feature a “beautiful, purely gay moment,” was another embarrassing choice. That meant a brief dance scene between a man and LeFou, Gaston’s lovable sidekick whose name translates to “the fool” in French. Adding a queer-identified antagonist was not as revolutionary as Condon had intended.
The LGBTQ community laughed at this “exclusively homosexual moment” and the Russo Brothers’ announcement that Avengers: End Game would include the MCU’s first openly gay character. That referred to a Joe Russo-portrayed character who was unidentified in a grief support group.
Bullshit representation, especially in light of rumors that Disney had removed gay-related scenes from Thor: Ragnarok that would have established Valkyrie’s bisexuality as canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as some femme-on-femme fling between two Dora Milaje soldiers in Black Panther. The MCU didn’t introduce Phaistos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, as a canonically homosexual superhero until 2021’s Eternals.
Even though Disney made progress, the company received criticism for its early inaction against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and for removing homosexual content from its productions. Disney restored a sapphic kiss to Lightyear before its release because of this just outrage. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever took things one step further by revealing the relationship between two members of the female warrior group Dora Milaje. Ethan now arrives.
What Is Strange World Tells A Present-Day Story?
Outside of Disney world, the media portrayals of queer youth frequently focus on traumatic experiences, such as the anxiety associated with coming out, being cut off from their families, dealing with an increased risk of partner violence or hate crimes, or dealing with other forms of homophobia. Homophobia is frequently present in films depicting homosexual romance, ready to stifle any glimmer of unfettered queer bliss.
The LGBTQ community has started to demand representation that doesn’t link tragedy with queerness. On some days, we get to enjoy life. Wouldn’t it be good to have a fictional movie where we could envision ourselves leading such a blessed life on occasions when we don’t? Strange World answers that call.
Although Ethan is gay and mixed, the drama of his journey is unrelated to these characteristics. He gets to experience the stomach butterflies of an infatuation flush, the belly butterflies of a cute lad, and the crushing embarrassment when his dad attempts to seem cool in front of his friends.
When Ethan tells his grandfather about his crush, he gets encouragement and guidance. Before it’s too late, he must assist his family in saving the planet even though he is accepted and loved. After all, he had a boy waiting for him at home.