Until very recently, LGBTQ+ media representation had been stagnant, contributing to the ostracization and stigmatizing of the gay community. However, in a bold and history-defining move, Disney has revealed one of the principal characters in the show Andi Mack to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Premiering in April of 2017, Andi Mack quickly became Disney’s newest phenomenon, following friends Andi, Buffy, and Cyrus as they navigate adolescence. The show has received critical acclaim for its diverse cast and for tackling serious, and often undocumented, struggles of growing up. Having already addressed issues such as ethnic erasure and teenage pregnancies, the season 2 premiere has thirteen-year-old Cyrus Goodman admit to having a crush on his same-sex classmate, Jonah Beck. In this pivotal moment, Disney destroys the commonly held belief that sexual identity is an adult subject, redefining it as a human one. BHS students have responded enthusiastically to this shift, remarking on how “kids watching the show and struggling with their sexuality can finally have their feelings validated,” and how now young members of the LGBTQ+ community “get to see a character they see themselves in.”
The show has had a resounding impact on the LGBTQ+ community for giving kids a platform to discover and accept their sexual identity. In the words of Pulitzer Prize winner Juan Diaz, “There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” Bedford’s LGBTQ+ students hail Andi Mack for combatting this phenomenon and for “creating an open dialogue, subsequently allowing kids to put language to how they feel.” Moreover, Cyrus’ intimate confession invoked nostalgia in many members of the LGBTQ+ community, with the authenticity and thoughtfulness of the scene reminding them of their coming out stories. Cyrus’ own fight to discover his identity is anticipated to stretch across the season, a journey which will “hopefully help humanize the gay community”. According to one LGBTQ+ BHS student, “All gay people were once Cyrus. We were all scared and demonized and repressing our emotions. I think once the public can see that perspective- see how gay kids have to live in a world where society rejects them- we won’t have to debate our rights anymore.”
Despite the harrowing political climate, the LGBTQ+ community is gaining the acceptance and recognition they deserve, with organizations such as Disney finally reflecting the lives of gay kids across America. With such a massive cultural revolution underway, BHS students can’t help but feel hopeful. Hopeful that through the public seeing the trials young LGBTQ+ community members endure, compassion and acceptance for them will be fostered. Hopeful that future generations will grow up knowing how to love themselves and others- regardless of their gender. Andi Mack is beckoning in a new era, one where love is no longer dictated by materialistic things such as gender.