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Published On: Sat, Oct 28th, 2017

Disney’s ‘Andi Mack’ divides audiences with gay character, storyline for tweens to have ‘strong inclusive message’

Disney’s Andi Mack will feature the first gay storyline aimed at a pre-adolescent television audience. The “coming–of-age comedy-drama” will now feature a young male lead character named Cyrus, who will wrestle with his attraction to a male friend while also having a new girlfriend.

In yesterday’s episode: Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is struggling with a crush on a middle school boy, Jonah Beck (Asher Angel). Later in the episode, Andi’s best friend, Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush), realizes that he, too, is experiencing feelings for Jonah. As the season progresses, the character will reportedly come to embrace himself as a gay tween.

“With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,” Kate Ellis, the LGBT group’s president and CEO, said. “Television reflects the real-life world, and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion, and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.”

One Million Moms officials blasted Disney for “choosing to abandon family-friendly entertainment” by introducing a coming out plotline.

“One might question why Disney Channel feels the need to pursue such programming,” the post reads. “What is wrong with having family-friendly content that is acceptable for all ages or even leaving a couple of networks solely for children’s entertainment?”

Noting that the move could “ultimately prove to be a huge mistake,” officials argued that the channel “may be choosing to sacrifice something far more precious… children’s innocence.”

One Million Moms, an initiative of the American Family Association that raises awareness of exploitation of children in entertainment media, issued a warning earlier this year against the content in the Andi Mack program being unsuitable for a kid’s network.

“This show includes enough drama to be categorized as a kiddy soap opera rather than a children’s program,” it said in a release from May.

Disney Channel said the program was appropriate for all ages and communicates a strong inclusive message.

“Andi Mack is a story about tweens figuring out who they are,” a network spokesman said in a statement. “Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”

The Walt Disney Company released a statement regarding the show as well:

“The Disney brand has always been inclusive, with stories that reflect acceptance and tolerance and celebrate the differences that make our characters uniquely wonderful in their own way. We constantly strive to live up to that legacy by continuing to create and share compelling storylines from our studios and media networks that entertain with inspirational and aspirational themes and reflect the incredibly rich diversity of the human experience. Our stories are timeless because they speak to the heart; our characters appeal to children across gender, ability, and experience because they’re defined by kindness, loyalty, humor, courage, wit, and other traits that make a good friend. Disney remains committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and related to all children.”

Kim Sanders from LGBT rights group Stonewall said: “It’s great to see Disney taking this step. For young lesbian, gay and bi people it sends a powerful message, demonstrating that they are not alone.

“We need to see more people with different sexual orientations and gender identities on TV and in film.”

 

 

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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