Children often imagine their future according to what they see on cartoons, interpreting their world through the screen of television, giving their own take to what happens around them according to facts –to them very real- that have happened –for real, of course- in this or that cartoon.
This is why they are never going to accept an apple from a pimply old lady, they are never going to run away in search of a mystical place named Pleasure Island and they are never going to try to kill their own herculean nephew in the attempt of ruling the world. There are of course some kids that break the rules and don’t follow all the rules that Walt Disney has patiently tried to teach them over the years, but they are a small minority.
All this considered, I’ve reached the conclusion that introducing gay characters in cartoons wouldn’t be such a bad idea. For starters, children would learn from an early age what ‘gay’ means –and it would probably be one of their first words, given its phonological simplicity-, without the need of asking many questions at an age where speaking with the parents is embarrassing enough, and without the need of looking it up on Google, risking to run into some sort of anti-gay Ku Klux Klan that could go on traumatizing them for many years to come.
Secondly, if there were a gay character in a cartoon, being gay would become something normal, just like it is normal waiting for Prince Charming or going on a search for Treasure Planet.
In my personal experience as a worshipper of cartoons (even though I’m clearly not the appropriate age anymore), I’ve learnt that our beloved authors of Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and so on, have put several gay characters into their works. It’s just that –unfortunately- these characters have never come out.
Let’s go over some of them:
Exhibit A: Percy, Pocahontas
I really don’t think I need to add anything else.
Exhibit B: Kuzco, The Emperor’s New Groove
No one who dances like he does is straight.
Exhibit C: Audrey, Atlantis
She’s a mechanic and she’s the toughest member of the crew. She’s also hot (just my type, as a matter of fact).
Exhibit D: Timon and Pubmaa, The Lion King
I don’t think there are many doubts on their relationship. They live together and they raise a kid. The reality of plenty of gay couples.
Exhibit E: Metro Man, Megamind
Exhibit F: Merida, The Brave
The girl refused three handsome suitors in the name of freedom and feminism. She also hates fixing her hair and wearing fashion-forward clothes and she’d rather explore the woods with her bow and arrows.
And then, of course, there’s him. Let’s face it, he’s a real stereotype. He wears cherry chapstick, a hairnet underneath his helmet in order not to mess his hair up, he organizes a musical celebrating his coronation, he has thick blond locks that he flaunts at the audience at any chance and it matters close to nothing that he was going to marry Fiona, since the reward was Far Far Away’s throne.
I am obviously talking about Charming (Shrek 2 and Shrek 3D). The beautiful and inimitable animated gayest character of all, so exaggerated in fact, that a proper coming out would have been superfluous on his part.
On a more serious note, I would like to stress the point that I’ve written this article for fun and I’ve made jokes on a topic that I actually find quite important. I honestly believe that a few gay characters –even secondary ones- would change children’s view on homosexuality, allowing them to be more tolerant towards others and towards themselves.
We sometimes tend to forget the huge power that cartoons have on children: we shouldn’t. If a cartoon can make you believe in magic can also make you believe in same sex love. Imagine how easily.