Children's shows introduce LGBT characters

“Time to make history,” Lincoln Loud, main character of the hit new cartoon “The Loud House,” tells the audience in a fourth wall breaking moment just as the show introduces the first married gay couple in a Nickelodeon cartoon.

“The Loud House” is one of growing number of cartoons aimed at children incorporating gay characters. “The Loud House” premiered in May. It follows the misadventures of 11-year-old  Lincoln Loud and his ten sisters. Lincoln’s best friend Clyde McBride’s dads are a married gay couple. It’s notable because the show flat out declares them a married couple on screen. No hiding behind the “well maybe they’re just friends” trope. The characters clearly refer to them as Clyde’s dads.

The McBrides have made appearances in the episodes “Overnight Success” and “Attention Deficit.” There has been a greater push for LGBT representation  in media. The LGBT community has been getting greater focus in recent years, especially with same-sex marriage becoming legalized in 2015.  

It is important for young people to have LGBT characters in the media they consume. Nanette Reyes, third year anthropology major and employee of the The Hub at Sonoma State said, “I feel like having queer people normalizes it.”

Reyes goes on say that kids need to view characters who aren’t outlandish but instead are real, relatable people.

“The Loud House” wasn’t the first Nickelodeon cartoon to portray gay characters. “Legend of Korra” famously revealed that the main character was bisexual in the final episode. However, it was very subtly done.

“The show didn’t follow through,” said Reyes.

The show’s producers had to explain it online. They were unfortunately unable to say on air due to standards and practices.

Nickelodeon is not the only channel introducing LGBT themes into its shows. Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe” has become famous for its LGBT characters.  The show follows a group of non-gendered, female identifying aliens called the gems and the half-human, half gem Steven. “Steven Universe” was created by Rebecca Sugar. Sugar came out as bisexual at the Steven Universe panel at Comic-Con back in July. At the convention when asked about LGBT themes on the show Sugar said, “It’s based on my experience as a bisexual woman.”   

The gems have the ability to “fuse” with each other which the show uses to explore relationships, both platonic and romantic. One character, Garnet, is a fusion between Ruby and Sapphire, who are a couple.

The episode “Love Letters” involves the mailman falling for Garnet. The show uses this as moment to explain how to turn someone down. Reyes said, “They do it gently.”

One of the most loved Ruby/Sapphire episode is “The Answer.” It tells how Ruby and Sapphire first met. The episode was so popular that it was turned into a story book that was released Sept. 6.

Another character is Pearl. She has a character arc involving her dealing with fact she loved Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz, and has to move on. This comes to play in the episodes “Mr. Greg” and “Last One Out of Beach City.” “Mr. Greg” was about Pearl coming to terms with the fact her relationship with Rose wasn’t what she thought it was. This is told beautifully in the song “It’s Over Isn’t It?” “Last One Out of Beach City,” which aired Sept. 8, was another big step for Pearl. She met and flirted with a mysterious new girl.

While LGBT representation in children’s media is leaps and bounds where it was from even a few years ago, it’s still important to note that there is still a very long way to go. Back at Comic-Con, Rebecca Sugar said, “I want to feel like I exist, and I want everyone else who wants to feel that way to feel that way too.”