Gabrielle Union explains why Strange World’s LGBTQ representation matters

Gabrielle Union explains the importance of including positive LGBTQ representation and a supportive family in Disney’s new animated adventure Strange World. In Disney’s new project, the pulp adventure Strange World, Ethan Clade, son of Searcher and Meridian, is an LGBTQ teenager with a loving and welcoming family. Ethan’s sexuality as well as the love and support of his family are treated as a natural part of the story without fanfare.

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Union (who plays Meridian Clade) explains why representation is so important in this particular film. She explains why it’s crucial to show Ethan’s family love and accept him as she raises him. Union also explains that the Clade family is an example because they “Create a loving space where everyone can exist exactly as they are.”

Screen Rant: Now, I love how Ethan is presented in this movie. Can you talk about the importance of not only having an LGBT lead character, but also supportive parents in a Disney movie that both kids and parents can see?

Gabrielle Union: Well, that’s interesting. I think people keep using the word normalization, and the reality is that it’s normal. We are normalizing the normal. It just is. The LGBTQ community exists. We are part of every community in every society around the world. We just are. And making a beautiful family action movie where everyone can just be, and we all move lovingly within that space, is incredibly important, because people think it has to be this super treacherous experience, this handshake, this damaging and confusing experience growing up and loving an LGBTQ child, and it’s not. It really doesn’t have to be at all. And this is a beautiful example of a family, albeit a perfectly imperfect one, grappling with its own generational problems. They still create a loving space for everyone to exist exactly as they are, and I think the world needs that example.

How different is Strange World’s approach to its LGBTQ character than previous Disney films?

In recent years, Disney has incorporated more LGBTQ representation into their projects, including Lightyear and Baymax! Union’s understanding of the importance of showing loving parents raising an LGBTQ teen is especially poignant given her personal knowledge of the subject. While the Clades are flawed and face personal conflicts throughout Strange World, Ethan’s sexuality is never part of that conflict. Ethan is able to exist as it is with his feelings for a boy who is treated as part of being a teenager.

Positive LGBTQ representation is becoming more common in media, with many shows and movies incorporating LGBTQ characters into their stories. More and more family and children’s programming has begun to include LGBTQ representation, including Disney’s Strange World and The Owl House. These movies and television series not only invest in LGBTQ characters but also make them the heroes of the story. This demonstrates to children and families that not only do LGBTQ people exist, but they can be complex and heroic.

Ethan is a complicated and layered character who must deal with generational trauma, his family’s complicated legacy and the desire to carve his own path. His feelings and his sexuality are never in question nor are they the focal point of his character. Strange World does a great job of making this a piece of who Ethan is. Equally important is the support of Ethan’s family which undoubtedly exists, as Ethan’s parents undoubtedly love him. While they embarrass him, it’s the normal embarrassment any teenager might feel with their parents while he’s talking to their crush. This depiction of a heroic LGBTQ teenager with a loving and supportive family where his sexuality is naturally incorporated into the story of Strange World without much fuss is exactly the kind of example needed.

Gabrielle Union explains why Strange World’s LGBTQ representation matters – Asiatica Film Mediale