Pop Culture Fix: “Strange World” Features Disney’s Millionth First Gay Character

I hope today is the last day you have to work this week, but if it’s not, I hope you take this nose boop from my cat Socks and carry it in your heart for good luck anyway. Here’s your last Pop Culture Fix before the holigay movies arrive!

+ Disney’s new animated film, Strange World, hits theaters today. There’s a gay teen in the movie, Ethan Clade, played by gay comedian Jaboukie Young-White. Everyone’s calling it Disney’s FIRST GAY CHARACTER, which is weird because Disney’s first gay characters were those moms on Good Luck, Charlie back in 2014. And then of course there’s The Owl House, where basically everyone’s gay. LeFou was gay in the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake in 2017. Who else? Valkyrie. Loki. America Chavez’s moms. Hawthorne and her wife in Lightyear; their little peck on the lips caused multiple entire countries to meltdown. Those lesbians in Finding Dory. Lena Waithe as an alien cyclops cop in Onward. Anyway, it would be so cool if Disney actually wrote real stories for their first queer feature film characters going forward. Fingers crossed Ethan Clyde’s gayness is actually noticeable to everyone who watches the movie, and not just us gays digging around on the ground for crumbs like some feral possums.

+ Who is this being profiled in the New York Times? Oh, that’s right: It’s Brittani Nichols.

+ Did you hear the excellent news that Amy Schneider won Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions???’

+ Elton John called JoJo Siwa after she came out: “I was like: ‘Who the heck is calling me from the UK?’ So I answer it, cause you know at the same time I’m a teenager. [And John said] ‘Hello JoJo, darling. This is Elton.’ And I was like: ‘Mom, get the camera out. It’s Elton John.’”

+ PayPal is blocking payments for Queer Cinema for Palestine Film Festival.

+ “When I talk about all of the things that I’ve gone through as a trans person, and as a queer person, and as an underground D.J., to be able to occupy these spaces with these artists, it’s still mind-blowing for me.” Honey Dijon steps up from dance music’s underground.

+ This documentary explores the untold stories of trans healthcare.

+ Everything Everywhere All at Once leads the Independent Spirit Awards nominations. Lots of Tár too, of course. A little Aubrey Plaza. You know, the general indie darlings.

+ The Rookie: Feds is a smashing ratings success, for one reason: Niecy Nash, baby.

+ I love this People write-up about Queen Latifah’s speech at The Grio Awards this weekend. “I didn’t know I was a girl, initially, I had to be told that. That had to be explained to me…. ‘Cause I was running around with my T-shirt off like the boys … I wanted to play the sports and all these things had to be explained to me because I was free… and so my whole life would feel like I’ve been trying to maintain my freedom to be me.”

+ RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon joins Chicago on Broadway.

+ T’Nia Miller and showrunner Lisa Joy talk about queer rep on The Peripheral.

+ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is spawning a new generation of Black girl nerds.

+ Criminal Minds: Evolution breathes new life into a franchise.

+ I’d love to hear your own personal opinion about Harper’s Bazar’s list of best lesbian movies on Netflix.

+ How The L Word: Generation Q remade its queer community hub.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. 1) may the criminal minds revival give us the gay emily prentiss we so richly deserve
    2) how famous do i need to get before elton john calls me out of the blue? i am willing to put in some effort!

  2. I don’t know why you’re mocking Disney for having a lot of gay representation just because the media makes a big deal whenever it happens, but yes there’s no ambiguity whatsoever that Ethan has a crush on his male friend, and it’s brought up several times throughout the movie.

    • Also, all the other Disney gays apart from Lefou , and Luca which is not official, were actually Disney lesbians. So yeah, this would be the first Disney gay male. And thats a much larger hurdle than lesbian in a childrens context, because of the whole gay male/pedophile association that it very much alive.

  3. I personally think Disney should focus more on children’s natural interests rather than mature relationships. Never liked it in most Disney movies, including the old princess movies…has nothing to do with straight or gay

    • Yeah, as a kid i thought every disney princess was stupid beyond belief for marrying whatever prince in the story when she could have gone off to live with singing/talking animals or whatever her sidekick was. Like, Cinderella i don’t care how great you think this prince is you are turning down an opportunity to run off and live with talking mice.

      I don’t know any five year olds that would choose marriage over talking animals.

  4. Disney doesn’t give a fuck about diversity. Having a gender or race swap of old characters, as well as mentioning a gay character is good for business. And that’s literally all they care about.

  5. Saw Strange World with my kid today and Ethan is in fact explicitly gay. Also there is absolutely zero agonizing over it. Everyone knows this kid is gay and no one bats an eye over it.

    It’s brought up multiple times, although all of these scenes are outside the main plot in such a way it could be edited out. Kids probably won’t notice that these parts are separated from the main story, the transitions are smooth, but if you have any media literacy at all you’ll be like ‘yeah i see what you did there disney’.

    So win/lose i guess? There is an explicitly gay teen as the main character but you could probably edit out fifteen minutes and you wouldn’t know.

    From the environment point of view this movie is basically modern fern gully with a more solar punk vibe, although they’re way more forth coming in saying older generations are the villains of the climate apocalypse.

    If you’re a kid today you’ll definitely come away feeling vindicated that yes in fact your parents/grandparents fucked up the planet and are mostly concerned with standard of living rather than living within the means of our ecosystems but luckily Ethan is there to point out that maybe we shouldn’t be killing the planet we live on.

    And lastly, the people at disney continue to explore their messy relationships with their fathers on the big screen.

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