It's been a year since Nickelodeon debuted an interracial, gay couple on their cartoon, “The Loud House” and now parents everywhere are once again pissed, but this time it's with the Disney Channel.
In an episode of “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” the main characters attended a concert where the song "Just Friends" caused a ripple effect of kisses from concert attendees ― a few of them were same-sex couples, making it the network's first same-sex kiss in an animated cartoon.
The Internet had a lot to say about it:
Homosexuality isn't learned. Disney Channel isn't gonna make your child homosexual because they saw two men or two women kiss.— Mama Sto (@Mama Sto)1488487265.0
Straight people kiss and profess their love and date each other in Disney Channel all the time. What's wrong with gay people doing it?— rude (@rude)1488469387.0
While some people didn't see a problem with it, not everyone is happy. Activist group One Million Moms released this statement on their website.
This is the last place parents would expect their children to be confronted with content regarding sexual orientation. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is becoming extremely common and unnecessary. Disney has decided to be politically correct versus providing family-friendly entertainment. Disney should stick to entertaining instead of pushing an agenda. Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid mature and controversial topics.
What's funny about all of this is that the clip from the show isn't detailed, in fact it's a few seconds long; much like the Nickelodeon "Loud House" episode. In their July 20th episode “Overnight Success”, the show’s main character, Lincoln Loud, invites his friend Clyde McBride over for a sleepover. When Clyde arrives, he is escorted by his two dads, Harold (voiced by Wayne Brady) and Howard McBride (voiced by Michael McDonald). In the clip (which you can watch below), Harold and Howard are dropping Clyde off at Lincoln’s house for the evening and in true overprotective parent fashion, bring along everything their son might need from his inhaler to a picture of their progressive family. The clip in fact doesn’t even focus on anyone’s sexuality, it focuses on a family that just happens to include two caring and considerate fathers who are in a relationship.
Unfortunately, a few parents on my Facebook page didn’t see that. What they felt they witnessed was LGBT lifestyles being forced into their households and Nickelodeon robbing them of the opportunity to initiate the “sex talk” with their pre-schoolers and basically stripping them of their fragile childhoods.
A few highlights from the conversation include:
“Its simple i wanna see a regular cartoon that just shows a strong black family thats funny, it aint to many but im curious to kno why my son is suppose to be watchin a show that show two uncles together.”
“Absolutely forcing a vision that’s not ideal.”
“A gay kids show?? 😩 wtf and why? What show is this?”
“Yeah I admit it. I don't have a problem with LGBT but I personally feel they pushing that shit too hard on kids. That's why kids is like 5 and don't know what they supposed to be.”
Like I’ve said many times before, I don’t expect everybody to stand on their porch and raise a rainbow flag. But when it comes to raising our children to understand exactly why representation matters and to be tolerant of others’ lifestyles, I just can’t see how we can preach, “#BlackLivesMatter (but please keep the gay couples off the cartoons)”. I’ve written before how representation has come a long way since I was a young girl and how happy I am to see my daughter growing up in a world of #BlackGirlMagic. But I can’t fight for there to be Michelle Obamas, Zendayas, and Taraji P. Hensons while secretly believing diversity only applies when it comes to the black race being represented and respected.
I can't say I agree with every lifestyle, and I don't pretend to understand all of them, but I think it's still important to teach children to be tolerant. Just like some people can't understand the struggle of the black man, others don't know what it's like to be gay, queer, transgender or otherwise. I think that's what tolerance is all about: Recognizing that just because you don't understand a struggle, that doesn't mean it's not real.
[Tweet "Just because you don't understand a struggle, doesn't mean it's not real."]
In addition, a cycle that I would like to break with my own daughter is the hypersexualization of our society. In a 50 second clip (that many of the parents that were commenting didn’t even watch) no one could seem to get past the sexuality of the two dads to recognize the cartoon wasn’t even about their relationship. It was about a boy getting dropped off by his overbearing parents to a sleepover. I’ve seen parents holding the hands of children that can recite the whole second verse of Drake’s “Controlla” or could draw a Venn diagram of all of the Kardashian sisters’ sex partners, but suddenly gay couples start to make an appearance on cartoons and everyone’s on a tangent about TV robbing children of their innocence?
As uncomfortable as these conversations may make us adults because of our own transgressions, sexuality is something that is a part of all our identities from birth. Instead of shaming sexuality completely, I believe in taking cartoons like these, or other shows that hint at sexuality, and starting much needed, healthy, age-appropriate conversations about what sexuality means to them and the part it plays in their life. As a sex educator, I always say “the sex talk” is about more than “Wear a condom and don’t get pregnant.” It’s about providing our children with healthy examples of romantic relationships.
I can respect that every household has the right to shape the world for their children as they see fit and raise them with the values that are important to them. But sexuality and alternative lifestyles are here to stay. You can only shield your children from them for so long before they have to learn how to treat others with respect and not discredit everything they don’t understand or that doesn’t apply to them.
If you don’t start these conversations it will only be a matter of time before the world does it for you.
But even if you choose to save the “sex talk” until they’re 25, the “tolerance” talk needs to start now, about ALL of the issues in the world, not only the ones that affect us.
What do you think about same-sex couples being added to cartoons?