Sunday 22 September 2019

Disney Channel to introduce first ever gay storyline

The channel is breaking new ground with its show Andi Mack.

Peyton Elizabeth Lee
Peyton Elizabeth Lee

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

A programme aimed at teenagers will become the first in the Disney Channel’s history to include a storyline with a gay character.

The Disney Channel’s comedy-drama Andi Mack, which debuted earlier this year and follows a 13-year-old girl coming to terms with growing up, will include the story arc in its second season.

The first episode will see Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) awkwardly working through her feelings for a boy, while her friend Cyrus (Joshua Rush) discovers that he also has feelings for the same boy.

The scene in which he tells his friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie) about his feelings is intended to serve as a positive role model for both the young audience and older viewers.

A Disney Channel spokesperson told US entertainment website People: “Andi Mack is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are.”

They added that the show’s creator Terri Minsky – who was behind hit teen series Lizzie McGuire – along with the cast and everyone involved in the show took “great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”

The Disney Channel was aided in ensuring the storyline was respectful and age-appropriate by working with US organisations including GLAAD and Common Sense Media.

PFLAG, which unites families and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, was one of the other organisations to have an input.

Dr Jaime M Grant, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement: “Sharing one’s innermost self can be challenging, and to do so as an adolescent can be particularly so, especially when in the midst of figuring it out for yourself.

“Coming out requires honest self-reflection, no small amount of bravery, and a safe place with at least one trusted person — a friend, a parent, a teacher — who can hold your confidence… and your heart.

“Andi Mack’s creative team captures this moment of revelation with such thought, care, and authenticity; it will be a memory moment for some, and a teachable moment for many.”

The episode will air in the US on Friday October 27.

The news of the Disney storyline comes as Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy has been revealed to have cast five transgender people in his new show Pose.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, this is the most amount of trans actors to ever be cast in a scripted TV series, and comes after a six-month search.

The drama series is set in the 1980s and looks at the different elements of lifestyle and society in New York at the time.

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