by Sheri Urban
The animated PBS series “Arthur” kicked off its 22nd season with a gay wedding. In an episode entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” third grade teacher Mr. Ratburn marries a man as Arthur and his classmates look on.
“It’s a brand new world!” one of the students yells after the children figure out Mr. Ratburn is marrying a man.
GLAAD, an organization representing the LGBT community, cheerfully commented on the shocking move by PBS. “Congratulations Mr. Ratburn!” the group tweeted, adding a rainbow emoji.
Disney made headlines last year when it was revealed that an upcoming film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, “The Jungle Cruise,” will feature an openly gay character.
According to a report from The Sun, British comedian Jack Whitehall was named to play the openly gay role.
“This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever pay cheque,” the source told the outlet. “But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man – one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny. It’s a dream role. Disney’s always been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community. This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”
In 2017, Disney turned heads for the Emma Watson-starring film “Beauty and the Beast.” A character played by actor Josh Gad, LeFou, struggled with his sexual attraction for Gaston, according to director Bill Condon. The director championed a “nice, exclusively gay moment” in the film.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon said to Attitude magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”
It was also first reported in 2017 that The Disney Channel was looking to include an LGBT angle in their TV shows, too, such as the introduction of a storyline of a gay 13-year-old boy on the hit show “Andi Mack.”
“An Andi Mack character has made history by seemingly being the first character on a Disney show to say ‘I’m gay,’” reported Pride in February. “Cyrus Goodman came out in the second season of the tween show, but didn’t actually label himself at the time. He came out to his two closest friends, Andi and Buffy, separately, but both with the admittance that he had a crush on Andi’s boyfriend, Jonah.”