All ages cartoons bring new perspective to LGBTQIA+ representation

Lauren Karmo, Staff Reporter

In Western media, some of the best LGBTQIA+ representation comes from all ages cartoons. Shows like “Steven Universe” and “The Legend of Korra” were able to pave the way for representation even before same-sex marriage was legalized five years ago — and more have added to the mix since.

Shows like “Adventure Time,” “She-ra: Princess of Power,” “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts,” “Gravity Falls,” “The Owl House,” “Voltron: Legendary Defender” and “The Loud House” have all been a beacon of hope for the younger generation to feel seen and become more inclusive. 

As a disclaimer, because of the nature of the topic, some spoilers will be revealed.

 

“The Legend of Korra”

“The Legend of Korra” gets a lot of heat from viewers for not having enough representation — especially considering the final cut of the show never explicitly revealed the nature of the relationship between the main character Korra and Asami Sato. While this may be true, the context the show came out in is important to consider.

With the season finale airing in 2014, the show’s creators continually pushed to show a romantic relationship between the two women, but were censored by Nickelodeon. Despite this, the creators were able to show implicit cues toward their relationship, later confirming both Korra and Asami to be bisexual.

While “Korra”’s representation doesn’t stack up well compared to others in its genre, it was a pioneer for its time, and it was able to say a lot with what little freedom they were given. 

 

“She-ra: Princess of Power”

Premiering on Netflix in 2018, “She-ra” is one of the most progressive children’s shows on the platform with its range of LGBTQIA+ characters. Nearly every member of the community is represented in both main and side characters — gay relationships, lesbian relationships, bisexual characters and a nonbinary character using they/them pronouns.

One thing that sets “She-ra” apart with its representation is how natural it’s displayed. When viewers meet Bow’s dads in episode 2.7 “Reunion,” there was never a painful explanation, questioning or coming out sequence. It was as simple as Bow’s dads.

This concept is eye-opening compared to the classic “coming out” scenes that dominate live-action media. Being able to see the natural representation of happy and successful LGBTQIA+ characters means everything to the Y7 kids who will not grow up in fear of who they are. 

 

“The Owl House”

One of the newer shows on the list, this Disney creation just aired its season one finale by confirming the main character, Luz Noceda, is bisexual.  Her love interest, Amity Blight, identifies as a lesbian. 

Following a classic enemies-to-friends-to-lovers trope, this show is revolutionary, as the first to have a main character as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Disney is more of a conservative network compared to others like Cartoon Network and Netflix, and as a staple in most households, having a show like this will reach thousands. 

“The Owl House” is already renewed for a second season, and many have high expectations for what’s to come. 

Although there is still a long way to go, representation matters — even more so in children’s shows. While Zillenials didn’t get to enjoy shows like these when we were kids, it’s nice to turn on some Y7 cartoons, kick back and relax, even as a 20-year-old. These shows are worth it.