Disney’s ‘Strange World’ will feature first openly gay teen romance in animated film

An openly gay teen romance will be the focus of Disney’s new animated movie, “Strange World.” It is the first animated movie in Disney history to depict an openly gay teen relationship.

Among the stars of the movie are Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid, and 27-year-old Jaboukie Young-White.

“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,” says Disney’s description of “Strange World.”

In this film, Young-White, who is openly gay himself, plays the role of 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,” adding the hashtag “Representation Matters.”

Variety featured 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 dealing with the controversy over a same-sex kissing scene in “Lightyear.” Because of the LGBTQ content, the film has been banned in 14 countries.

Only 38% of those viewing “Lightyear” were families, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Despite expecting $70 to $85 million in box office returns, the animated film could only earn $50.6 million in its opening weekend because of the lack of families.

“Strange World” will open on Nov. 23, but it is not yet rated.



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