How Four Major Animation Studios Are Celebrating Pride Month
Covid may have dampened festivities in many places, but at least one sector is championing Pride Month more vocally than ever: the animation industry. In a fast-growing annual trend, U.S. studios have marked the month by releasing videos and episodes that give LGBTQIA+ artists and characters a voice and celebrate who they are.
This level of involvement in Pride from major studios would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Of course, themed videos and episodes in June are only part what’s needed to boost LGBTQIA+ representation in animation: the true measure of a studio’s commitment to the issue can be found in the people it hires and promotes, and the protagonists and storylines it approves — especially in its most widely seen series and films. Here too, some companies have made great strides recently. May this continue.
Here are how four of the biggest studios have done so this year …
Nickelodeon show Blue’s Clues released a singalong video themed around a Pride parade. To the tune of the Civil War song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” the host (voiced by RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Nina West) sings an anthem celebrating LGBTIA+ representation, acknowledging the different kinds of family as they pass by: the parade includes gay, trans, nonbinary, asexual, bisexual, and pansexual members. “Love is love is love, you see / And everyone should love proudly,” West concludes.
Dreamworks series Madagascar: A Little Wild, which streams on Hulu and Peacock, has introduced a nonbinary character in its latest episode, “Whatever Floats Your Float.” As the animal characters prepare a Pride parade, they make efforts to find a float that feels just right for Odee the Okapi, who eventually says, “It doesn’t matter what we are as long as we’re proud of who we are.” Odee is voiced by nonbinary actor Ezra Menas.
Cartoon Network is focusing its Drawn To series, which champions diversity by looking at the stories of real-life kids and adults, around Pride this month. In the short below, Drawn To Expression!, participants relate how they express their individuality through different forms of creativity: cooking, music, drawing.
Disney’s talk show What’s Up, Disney+ has invited three queer filmmakers to talk about how they told personal stories in their recent work. One of the speakers is Steven Hunter, director of the Oscar-shortlisted Pixar short Out, in which the gay protagonist comes out to his parents. The film is Hunter’s directorial debut, and he had to think hard about what he wanted to say through it. “It’s so intimidating but it’s so liberating at the same time,” he says of the experience.