Pop Culture Intervention

8 TV Shows For Kids That Proudly Feature LGBTQ Characters

Since Bert and Ernie are "just friends."

At A Plus, we're addicted to pop culture, and Pop Culture Intervention brings that obsession to the soapbox. Through this series, we'll recommend what you should be watching, reading or listening to; explore how arts and entertainment affect us; and interpret the important messages contained within various works.

The world of children's television recently made headlines when a former Sesame Street writer confirmedthen unconfirmed — a belief many had thought for quite some time: Bert and Ernie are gay and, beyond just being roommates, are in a relationship. The show also weighed in, clarifying that the two iconic puppet characters are "just friends."

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The last few days has been a wild ride full of celebration, outrage, and numerous think pieces about whether or not shows aimed at children should address this type of topic for young viewers. For now, though, it seems the closet door is off the hinges for Bert and Ernie, who once graced a New Yorker cover after same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013.

This Sesame Street hubbub got us wondering about the instances of LGBTQ representation in other children's programming. Throughout the years there have been moments of praise (as well as those to criticize) when it comes to main characters being LGBTQ. We've pulled together a list of these groundbreaking shows, with varying degrees of inclusion and openness, that deserve your attention.

“Andi Mack”

In 2017, a Disney Channel series titled Andi Mack offered up what would be the network's first openly LGBTQ main character — three years after another show, Good Luck Charlie, offered the network's first depiction of openly gay characters — when Cyrus (Joshua Rush), one of Andi Mack's (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) best friends, come out as gay. The show is still running and will enter its third season this October.

“Adventure Time”

Though their relationship was confirmed years ago by an Adventure Time actresses, it wasn't until the series finale that we saw the likes of Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum together. Thanks to a long-awaited kiss and a few moments of them seen together in the end-of-episode montage, the show finally cemented them as a couple who were set for a happy ending.

“Hey Arnold!”

Fans of Hey Arnold! had long suspected Mr. Simmons of being coded as a gay character — thanks, in part, to the episode "Arnold's Thanksgiving," in which we were introduced to Mr. Simmons's "friend" Peter. Then, earlier this year, the Nickelodeon show's creator Craig Bartlett confirmed that this was true and, in Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, we got a touching moment between the couple.

“The Legend of Korra”

In the final moments of The Legend of Korra we saw both the titular character and Asami holding hands and staring into each other's eyes as they entered the spirit world together, leaving fans to believe there was more to their friendship. Afterward, creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino confirmed on Tumblr that, yes, the two were a couple and were canon.

“Sailor Moon Crystal”

In the original run of Sailor Moon, the U.S. version coded Uranus (Haruka Tenoh) and Neptune (Michiru Kaioh) as cousins despite being depicted as lovers in the Japanese version. It wasn't until later, in the U.S. re-release titled Sailor Moon Crystal, that the two characters were given the chance to finally exist as a same-sex couple — ditching the (potentially more) problematic decision of the past.

“Steven Universe”

If there's one kids show out there that exemplifies LGBTQ representation, it's Steven Universe. While there are numerous examples of LGBTQ characters, the most prominent ones are Ruby and Sapphire, whose relationship is shown through their decision to (usually) remain fused together as Garnet. During a recent episode, fans saw the two characters get married, share a kiss, and fuse into Garnet to solidify their union. It doesn't get any more explicit than that!

“Voltron: Legendary Defender”

Despite not exactly doing a deep dive into the sexuality of Voltron: Legendary Defender character Shiro (real name Takashi Shirogane), we were introduced to the fact that he was with a man named Adam during a moment of explorative backstory. The two were once together but, after an unfortunate decision, they were separated and Adam ended up dying. We haven't gotten more in terms of Shiro's love life, but here's to hoping that'll happen in the near future.

“Yuri on Ice”

Though they haven't exactly defined their relationship, it is a given that Yuri on Ice's Yuri Katsuki and Viktor Nikiforov are an item. We see the relationship between the competitive ice skaters grow and, at a pivotal moment, they finally kiss. Some have viewed this relationship as not clear-cut enough (with the kiss being obscured a bit) but, considering the two got matching rings, it is pretty certain these two have feelings for each other.

Cover image: Cartoon Network

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