The rise of queer representation in LGBT cartoons
We’re witnessing a magical new time in all-ages entertainment: LGBT cartoons in children’s programs.
What’s more, we’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come as LGBT children will finally find their own voices with these shows.
LGBT cartoons in children’s networks
Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, two of the top television networks for children’s programs for this generation, have made great leaps in the past few years, most notably the rise of queer visibility.
Nickelodeon, with The Legend of Korra, ended with a bang last 2014 when the finale premiered.
Korra and her friend, Asami, walked hand in hand through a portal into the spirit world after agreeing to go on vacation together. For many fans, this was a glorious confirmation of what they’d suspected for years: that Korra was bisexual.
Cartoon Network, too, has strong champions for LGBT representation, like Steven Universe and Adventure Time.
Steven Universe, one of our favorite cartoons with heavy queer overtones, follows the adventures of Steven, a young boy who protects the universe with his gem powers, alongside Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl.
This cartoon is full of heart and so full of LGBT visibility. One example is Garnet who, at the first season’s finale, is revealed to actually be two gems, Ruby and Sapphire.
The pair’s fusion is a display of their love for one another, with Garnet being the physical embodiment of their love.
Adventure Time is very much a children’s show, but it is also wildly popular with adults– and rightly so. A fun show about Finn the human, and his magical dog friend Jake, the two go off on all sorts of adventures with all sorts of magical creatures.
With this show, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline (yes, the one with the bass guitar—shaped like a lesbian pride symbol), are in a relationship with the creators confirming it.
In Adventure Time, we also find BMO, the talking videogames console. BMO is adorable, helpful and friendly– as well as gender fluid. BMO appears to use male, female and neutral pronouns at different times, and other characters roll with this without questioning it.
Big steps with LGBT cartoons
Lastly, DC cartoons are also getting in the act as one of their more prominent lesbian characters– Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman– has not only appeared in the animated series Batman: Bad Blood, but is also lesbian.
These cartoons answer the need for more kids shows that focus on queer representation.
As noted by Autostraddle, “Study after study and expert after expert says that when kids see people like them positively portrayed in the media they consume, they are positively impacted, and when they don’t see that same representation, it negatively affects not only them, but how others view and treat people like them.”
So the next time you and your partner see your kids watching cartoons, let them: they may be finding inspiration in what they watch.