Disney has finally done it everyone. Disney have created a gay character that didn’t feel like a tick in a box, but a living, breathing character with flaws and a personality. And that gay character in particular is Ethan Clade, from the newly released film Strange World.
Strange World was first teased back in June this year, but since its official announcement the hype surrounding the movie has been fairly muted. In fact, it felt like the only conversation surrounding Strange World was Disney’s promise that (once again) the film would feature an openly gay character – a statement that quickly drew ire, but not for the reason you’re thinking of. Disney has a history of stating that their new film or TV series will include queer characters, only for them to be as compelling as stepping barefoot on LEGO bricks.
With the queerphobic history that follows Disney like a shadow, it isn’t all that surprising that the news that a gay character would be involved in Strange World was met with loud derision.
However, from the positive response surrounding Ethan Clade, it looks as though Disney has broke away from its insulting portrayal of queer characters.
“Strange World manages to balance a casual ‘not a big deal’ approach to Ethan as Disney’s first gay lead character while also making it integral to who he is and an element of his personality that’s never brushed under the carpet.” Says Metro’s Tori Brazier. “That the movie explores the sometimes-tricky bond between fathers and sons makes it even sweeter.”
What critics and fans alike seem to enjoy the most about Ethan’s character is that his story arc isn’t focused around a big ‘coming out’ plot and instead centers on him being a boy with a crush, and that crush just so happens to be on another boy. No big deal is made out of the gender of Ethan’s crush being the same as his own. It is just accepted.
That said, Strange World doesn’t outright avoid Ethan’s sexuality either. He is teased (as any parent would to their child) about his crush, and is given advice by other relatives. It’s never treated in any way outside of the norm and, ultimately, isn’t that what we look for when it comes to queer stories?
Strange World is available to watch now in cinema.