Why Aren’t There More Openly Gay Cartoon Characters?

Kevin Keller Archie Comics kiss

LGBT cartoon characters shouldn’t be so rare. Source: Salon/Archie Comics

I don’t know how many of you keep up with Archie Comics, but you may know that they have an openly gay character. Well, that character, Kevin Keller, shared an on-panel kiss with his boyfriend. This brings up an important question: Why aren’t there more openly gay children’s cartoon characters?

Here’s a few arguments that I’ve seen and heard against LGBT representation in cartoons with kids as its primary demographic:

1. It’s inappropriate! This is a classic argument for the types who love to preface any homophobic statement with, “I have a bunch of gay friends!” Honestly, I don’t really think this argument makes much sense on principle. Kids have witnessed cartoon characters kiss ever since they watched their first Disney movie. Those characters just happen to be straight. So why would two characters of the same gender doing the same thing be any more inappropriate? Well, I’m guessing that it’s because they’re viewing gay people as so inherently sexual that children watching two women and two men sharing a chaste little smooch will pervert their innocent little brains. Pfft, give me a break! Kissing is kissing, we’re just more socialized to see a man and a woman as “normal” and anything else as different and confusing and–you guessed it–inappropriate. Maybe if kids were more exposed to open affection from people of the same gender in the media at a younger age, they wouldn’t even question the kiss as anything out of the ordinary!

2. It’ll confuse kids! Kids are naturally confused about everything. They’re confused about why they have to take baths and why they have to eat vegetables and why they have to wear pants in public.  And let’s be honest, confusion about eating veggies lasts through teen years, too. If a parent’s job is to, you know, teach kids things then why is it so ridiculously difficult to explain that men can like men and women can like women? Why do we think that cartoons depicting people flying or breathing under water makes more sense than the existence of people who don’t think that their assigned sex matches up with their gender?

3. It’s a distraction! Why should a character being gay be any more of a distraction than a character being straight? A romantic sub-plot is a distraction no matter what the sexual orientation of the characters are, so I don’t buy this.

If we want to be more progressive with our approach to LGBT issues, then why not start with making sure that kids have a more open mind as early as possible? What if we grew up watching Ariel fall in love with Princess Erica instead of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid? What if those dudes from The Road To El Dorado ended up falling in love? I know that I’m not the only one who could have seen something a little deeper in that relationship, right?

Some of my female friends who ID as gay or queer were always more attracted to female cartoon characters than male ones as kids. What if they could actually see their their feelings validated and reflected on screen instead of treated as something that is so odd and different as teens and adults?

Cartoons have such a formative impact on our childhoods. I mean, how many of you still talk about some of your favorite cartoons? I still watch cartoons, and so do plenty of other teens! That’s why it’s so important for people to see themselves in the media they consume, especially kid and teen demographics. When we don’t see people who are like us, it is so easy to feel alienated.

LGBT characters have a place in cartoons. Instead of being so worried about scarring children for life by depicting a same sex kiss, we should be concerned about making children, teens and young adults never see an important part of themselves in the cartoon characters that they love.


What do you think about having more LGBT friendly cartoons? Do you think it is necessary or unimportant? Tell us in the comments!

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Posted in: Beliefs
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  • There are over a million families nationwide with either two moms or two dads https://jasonjdotbiz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/hrc-feature/ I don’t understand why our culture is not providing quality television for young viewers with these family dynamics.

  • San

    In Japan there a lot of gay cartoons, because girls like that kind of stuff. It’s only purpose is to serve the ladies who like the idea of two guys making out or having sex.

  • Marie

    i grew up a christian so personally i dont agree with homosexuality simply because it it against the bible. i dont hate homosexuals i just hate what they do.

  • CloverTea123

    In ParaNorman, there’s this guy who Norman’s teen sister is flirting with throughout the movie. And at the end of the movie, It turns out that she was flirting for nothing because he’s gay and has a boyfriend. xD
    When I saw the movie nobody in the theater cared, but my friend later told me at school that a whole bunch of parents were going apeshit over the movie because parents it was “gay”. I told her why, and she was like “That stupid” because it is.
    These parents were acting as if he went out and had gay sex or some shit. People need to get over themselves. It’s not a sin to love.

  • Cakes

    I never understood why it a “taboo” to have LGBT characters in cartoons. I mean they are pretty much equal to the relationships of straight couples in cartoons. Like all it is really are homophobic parents who try to hide their children from it, in hopes to prevent them from finding that they are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans. I know because thats what my dad tried to do with my sister and I, luckily our mom was open about.

    Also I remember when I went to watch Paranorman, Rated PG, with my bff and (SPOILER ALERT) when the typical jock guy was revealed to be gay you could hear the gasps coming from parents, like they did not see that coming. But we didn’t care, in fact we thought it was wonderful they had brought an openly gay character into a children’s movie. I wish they would do it more often though.

  • Rachel

    No. It’s just.. inappropriate. Stop trying to make it happen.

    • Rachel

      Inappropriate how, though

    • LittleRedWolf

      It’s not at all inappropriate. You have absolutely nothing to back up that statement.

    • Tayylove96

      Im not seeing a reason for it being inappropriate, have some reasoning before you outright say something like that.

    • Nathalie

      Is this a ‘stop trying to make homosexuality happen? it’s not going to happen?’ thing. Because that’s completely ridiculous. Kids should see that homosexuality is natural and normal. Only than can homophobia go away.

    • NorthStarSea

      Can you provide a full argument in your favour with all no bias, just facts, for me, and everybody else before you say something like that, which will offend people.
      Oh, and just for the record, I’m gay.

  • LittleRedWolf

    Thank you for this, it’s so true! I’m still waiting for a Disney lesbian princess… those closest thing I’ve seen lately is Marceline and Bubblegum in Adventure Time. There are a couple episodes that have made it pretty obvious the show’s creators having something more in mind with the relationship between those two, but they haven’t made it official yet, because there are parents who would freak out, which is stupid.

  • violet7789

    I completely agree. In school (college) we’d always talk about how there needs to be more variety. Like how it moved from showing gay characters as just that friend with AIDS to more flamboyant gay characters to one’s that didn’t openly stand out as gay. I really like a film called Tru Loved for explaining and showing diversity. There’s a straight girl with two mom’s and two dad’s, interracial couples, and a gay straight alliance. All while dealing with identity as a teen. There’s another one that shows many types of families with little kids saying what type of family they have (from adopted to living with a grandparent because his parents couldn’t take care of him to having two dads)

  • Sierra

    I am pretty sure we can see this happen in a future disney movie 🙂 and susposedly Jafar from Aladdin and Scar are thought to be gay, but honestly that’s probably something people started to satisfy.

  • natalya

    There really needs to be more stuff like this in the world! You know, in anime and manga LGBT basically have their own genres! Gay = yaoi
    Lesbian = yuri. Transgender = genderbender. And bisexual doesn’t exactly have a genre but is actually pretty common in many animes and mangas!

  • Kylee

    I so agree with this. Being interatial and bisexual, it’s pretty impossible to find people on tv that look like me and love like me. Not exposing children to these sorts of relationships is exactly what makes it seem so odd and taboo to people when they grow up. It’s important to expose children to these things as young as possible because it only leads future generations closer to acceptance.

  • Jillian

    I think there should be more LGBT awareness in comics and cartoons. It will encourage kids to keep open minds and, should they have a revelation about their own sexuality, feel comfortable with coming out of the closet. I don’t know if it’s necessary, because it is the job of the parents to teach their children tolerance and understanding. I think it would be good for kids to be exposed to LGBT; not in-your-face sex, like I’m sure what most people think it would be, but a simple kiss.

    Also, having a guy kissing a guy or a girl kissing a girl should not be as appalling as Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin” ready to place tonsil hockey with a boy whose name she hadn’t even heard yet. What is THAT saying to young girls?