Disney’s upcoming animated movie “Strange World” will feature a storyline of an openly gay teen romance. This is the first openly gay teen relationship showcased in a Disney animated feature.
The movie boasts Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid, and 27-year-old Jaboukie Young-White.
Disney describes “Strange World” as: “Jake Gyllenhaal lends his voice to Searcher Clade, the son of a steadfast explorer. The original action-adventure journeys deep into an uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await the legendary Clades, a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest–and by far– most crucial mission.”
Young-White – who is best known for being a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” – voices the character named “Jaeger.” Young-White – who is openly gay himself – stars as a gay 16-year-old who has a “boy crush” on another young boy named “Daizo.”
Emmy Award-winning producer Matthieu Saghezchi saw a scene from the movie at the Annecy 2022 International Film Festival in southeast France, and called it “very cute.”
Saghezchi wrote on Twitter, “It features the first openly gay teen romance in a Disney feature!”
“The scene describes the son being very shy in front of his boy crush, and his dad comes in and says, ‘So nice to meet you! my son talks about you all the time,’ and further embarrasses his son very cute,” tweeted Saghezchi with the hashtag “Representation Matters.”
Variety details a scene from the upcoming Disney movie, “Walt Disney screened three sequences from ‘Strange World.’ In the first, Ethan flirts with heartthrob Diazo while friends from school look on, teasing in a friendly and warm-hearted way. Much to Ethan’s chagrin, his dad Searcher soon joins in, embarrassing his son with an overeager show of acceptance.”
Inside the Magic – a website devoted to covering Disney news – noted, “However, as the character Daizo was not announced as part of the key voice cast, it’s safe to assume that their romance might take a bit of a backseat to the fantastical happenings, adventure, and family drama taking center stage.”
Disney is still contending with controversy stemming from a same-sex kissing scene in the animated film “Lightyear.” The animated children’s movie was banned in 14 countries because of the LGBTQ content.
“Lightyear” failed to attract families – only 38% of viewers were families, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The lack of families resulted in the animated movie reeling in $50.6 million in its opening weekend instead of the expected box office returns of $70 to $85 million.
“Strange World”- which is not yet rated – is scheduled to open on Nov. 23.