Alhi Leconte/Contributing Writer
There has been a lack of positive queer portrayal in children’s media for a long time.
Queer is a word that is associated with minority sexual orientations and gender minorities. The term queer is often used to refer to people in the LGBT community without using specific categorization.
It’s very noticeable that in very popular children’s shows and movies that the characters that have queer attributes and characteristics are usually the villains. Queer attributes and qualities may sometimes be stereotypical, but they are implied by the behavior, attitudes and attire of the characters.
In the past couple years there has been slight progression in the way queer characters are represented on children’s programming. There is still a long way to go to even find attempts to make queer characters less ambiguous “satisfactory.”
Exposure to positive portrayal of queer characters is important for children. The type of people that direct hate to the LGBT community are people that raise kids to be closed-minded. Those closed-minded children grow up to have very limited views of the world.
Misrepresentation of queer characters happens too often. Queer coding is when writers hint or suggest that a character is queer without explicitly saying it. These queer characters are usually represented negatively and are villainous. In the animated film “The Little Mermaid,” the villain, Ursula, was inspired by a famous drag queen named Divine. The way that Ursula is portrayed could and probably has resonated with children. T
his could make children associate the character’s villainous ways to all drag queens. On the popular Disney Channel animated series, “Kim Possible”, the villain, Dr. Drakken, was portrayed as a flamboyant evil maniac. He may not have been queer, but his flamboyant mannerisms and demeanor is stereotypically associated with queerness.
“Steven Universe” is arguably the most popular animated series at the moment for many reasons. Relatable characters, an intriguing plot, and the smart way they illustrate some weighty topics have catapulted this show’s level of notability. Its popularity in the queer community can be accredited to the social boundaries it has broken and gained praise for its positive portrayal of a lesbian relationship between two characters.
It’s the first children’s series to depict sexuality and gender in such a daring and mature way. Queer overtones seems to be a sensitive subject in relation to anything involving kids no matter how heavy, yet “Steven Universe” airs on the well-known children’s television network Cartoon Network. This show allows children to not restrict their views of other people and it’s these children that will grow to be functional members of a society that is making progress in regard to LGBT issues.
Queer characters in children’s media should be less ambiguous, more explicit and more meaningful. Queer children should be able to grow up seeing characters that they could connect to. The queer community shouldn’t have to settle with the characters that represent them in a negative light. The media has made positive changes in the past couple of years, but there is still a lot of work to be done to properly portray queer characters.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Image retrieved from Flickr.