Jul 21, 2015

Gay Characters on Children's TV: Steven Universe

For fifty years children's tv has been a heteronormative wasteland, where same-sex desire exists, at best, in code and innuendo.  But during the last two years, two programs on the Cartoon Network have introduced recurring same-sex couples.

Steven Universe (2013-) is about three extraterrestrial gem-creatures -- Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl -- who live on the East Coast of the U.S. and fight evil, particularly the corrupt gems from their homeworld who want to destroy all humans.

Steven (voiced by Zach Callison, left) is the son of a fourth gem-creature, Rose, and her human partner, Greg Universe (a traveling musician who lives in a van).

He has inherited his mother's super-powers, so he assists the others, meanwhile engaging in ordinary kid adventures:

Steven gets upset when his favorite brand of ice  cream sandwich is taken off the market.
He helps place a Moon Goddess statue atop the ruined Lunar Sea Spire
He is banned from his favorite restaurant.
He fights two corrupt gems who want to destroy the world.
He watches scary movies (after the last episode, one wonders what scares him).

The gems, including Steven, can fuse to produce new beings with their own distinct personalities.  Steven fuses with his girlfriend Connie to produce Stevonnie, a tall, long-haired, androgynous being who is intensely attractive to boys and girls alike.

It turns out that Garnet is actually a fusion of Ruby and Sapphire, two smaller gems who fell in love and fused together so they would never be separated.  They sometimes talk to each other beneath Garnet's personality.

When they appear separately, Sapphire is a passive, pretty blue woman with long blue hair, wearing a long dress, and Ruby is a more aggressive, macho red woman with short hair, wearing a maroon tank top.

Did I mention that they're both female?  And their romance has been the focus of one episode, and referenced in three others?

Not exactly regular characters, but it's a start.

Now let's see some gay men.

See also: The First Gay Couple in Children's TV


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