Disney has introduced gay characters before — “Beauty and the Beast” made headlines earlier this year for featuring an openly gay LeFou, and Disney XD’s animated series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” made history in its second season with Disney’s first same-sex kiss. Other Disney franchises, such as “High School Musical,” have alluded to gay characters. But “Andi Mack,” which became a network hit after its April debut, is the first Disney franchise to center a story line around a major character coming out as gay.
Cyrus’s story isn’t the first groundbreaking move for “Andi Mack.” In the pilot episode, Andi learns that her big sister, Bex, is actually her biological mother — a decidedly mature story line for a tween-focused show.
“‘Andi Mack’ is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are,” Disney Channel said in a statement earlier this week. “Everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”
The upcoming story line has earned praise from the media advocacy group GLAAD.
“With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,” the organization’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a statement. “Television reflects the real life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows. Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.”
Rush, who plays Cyrus, also addressed the story line in an Instagram post this week.
“Starting conversations about trust, love, relationships and family dynamics is easier when you have a show that you can relate to. ‘Andi Mack’ gives young people and their parents, mentors, and champions a meaningful way to talk about these topics and the power to decide their futures,” the actor wrote. “I’m so proud to bring Cyrus’ groundbreaking story line to life and for you to see what we’ve been working on.”