Film Forward

Disney Channel Is Making A Big Move For LGBTQ Representation This Season

"I'm so proud to bring Cyrus' groundbreaking storyline to life."

A new storyline for the upcoming second season of Disney Channel's Andi Mack marks a major milestone for the network's depiction of LGBTQ characters. According to Deadline, this season will feature a major character's journey realizing he's gay and coming out to his friends — the first storyline of its kind for Disney.

The character is 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman, a friend of the show's title character. His coming-out arc will reportedly begin in this Friday's season 2 premiere. Fifteen-year-old actor Joshua Rush, who portrays Cyrus on the series, responded to the news on Instagram Wednesday.

"I'm so proud to bring Cyrus' groundbreaking storyline to life and for you to see what we've been working on," he wrote, alongside a photo of the show's main characters. (Cyrus is second from the left.)

According to Deadline, Cyrus' journey begins when he realizes he has feelings for his friend, Andi's crush Jonah (played by Asher Angel). The show will depict the support he receives from his friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie), as well as the struggle of how to tell his girlfriend Iris.

"Andi Mack is a story about 'tweens' figuring out who they are," Disney Channel said in a statement. "(Creator) 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 network reportedly consulted about the storyline with child development experts, as well as the LGBTQ-focused organizations GLAAD and PFLAG, both of which praised the show in statements. As Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said, "Television reflects the real-life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows."

News of the storyline received a positive reaction from many on social media, including Marshal Knight, an afterschool teacher, who shared how much Cyrus' journey will mean for so many young people. "Proud to be a Disney fan today," Knight wrote on Twitter.

Although this is Disney Channel's first in-depth storyline about a gay character, earlier this year, the Disney XD cartoon Star vs. the Forces of Evil featured a scene in which same-sex couples are depicted kissing. Unfortunately, another same-sex kiss was cut from the recent Disney Channel film Descendants 2, although the stars involved posted images of the moment on social media.

Andi Mack is already known for starting important conversations. The first season featured 13-year-old Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) discovering that her older sister Bex (Lilan Bowden) is actually her mother, having given birth as a teenager. The Walt Disney Co. said in a general statement to Deadline that the company is "committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children."

Here's hoping we see more stories like this, on Disney Channel and beyond, very soon.

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

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