The Poly Spotlight

November 16th, 2017
Disney’s Foot in the Door

UNIQUE: Disney channel’s first show featuring a teen’s coming-out story raises differing opinions.

By Alex Flores, Staff Writer

Disney channel’s relatively new live action series “Andi Mack” is reported to feature the coming-out story of a teen, the first of its kind on the channel. The show is centered around the life of Andi Mack, but includes the lives of her friends as well, particularly that of Cyrus Goodman. Both characters had a crush on cool kid Jonah Beck, but only Andi’s crush was known to the audience. The show’s first season hinted that Cyrus might have liked Jonah, but in the latest episode he revealed to his best friend that he is indeed interested in Jonah. However, this is unknown to Andi and Jonah who are now dating.

The show has developed a reputation for directly and realistically handling complex subjects. It portrays situations that kids experience all the time, but without sugar coating them as many other kids or tween shows do. For example, Andi Mack is in a complicated situation in which the girl she knew as her sister is actually her mother, and the woman she knew as her mother is actually her grandmother. She also meets her biological father who happens to still be in love with her mother and tries to convince him to propose. Complex situations indeed.

Andi’s situation in the show isn’t what has captured people’s profound attention. The fact that a children’s show includes a homosexual character seems to be the focus. Naturally there are those who endorse the show’s new content and those who do not. Members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) believe that the show will serve as reflection of struggling young people’s lives regarding their sexuality. “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,” Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD said. Children and tweens refer to television shows for advice and input because they’re relatable and entertaining. Coming-out can be a delicate process for anyone to go through. It requires a whole lot of honest self reflection, a trusted person to confide in, and bravery to actually vocalize it. This can be a stressful situation for a young person to go through so seeing a character in a show they like experiencing the same thing serves as a great comfort. “I hope my little sister continues watching it. I think homosexuality is something we should expose to kids at a young age so they don’t think of it as wrong and kids that are gay will hopefully feel more comfortable about themselves because it’ll be seen as more acceptable in society than it is now,” Leiloni Phillips-Madrigal (11) said.

People who do not support the show’s featuring of a teen’s coming-out story believe it to be non family-friendly and damaging for young people. “By choosing to move in the direction of more adult stories and content, the Disney channel – and the entire Disney media empire – may be choosing to sacrifice something far more precious… children’s innocence, ” the conservative group One Million Moms stated. To them and those who agree, homosexuality is an adult subject that kids should have no part of because it threatens their innocence. They feel that kids are kids and are therefore too wholesome to be exposed to supposedly inappropriate subjects such as homosexuality. One Million Moms took their beliefs a step further and established a petition to have the show cancelled, it has almost 8,000 signers.

Whether “Andi Mack” will continue on in regards to its content or its existence is unknown. However, its support seems to outweigh its opposition so there is a good chance more of the show will be seen in the future. Is that a good thing? To the LGBTQ community and its supporters, yes. The community continues to grow, including that of the young and the old, and a show that moderately represents their lives may just be a nice thing to have, simple as that. Perhaps those who oppose the show will learn to see the sweet simplicity of it and move on.

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