“Steven Universe” is at the forefront of children’s television shows with its LGBTQ representation and story lines.
For example, the cartoon series has showcased a same-sex wedding; an intersexed, non-binary main character; and realistic LGBTQ relationships.
‘Steven Universe The Movie’
“Steven Universe,” which airs on Cartoon Network, is a coming-of-age story about Steven, the youngest member of the Crystal Gems, a team of alien guardians who have vowed to protect Earth. The Crystal Gems are four protectors: Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven a half-human, half-Gem boy who inherited a gemstone from his mother, the Crystal Gem Rose Quartz. She gave up her form to create Steven.
After five seasons on TV, “Steven Universe” will come to celluloid. On September 2, “Steven Universe The Movie” will premiere on Cartoon Network.
During a “Steven Universe” panel discussion at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July, several fans, teenagers and adults, told creator Rebecca Sugar, who identifies as bisexual and non-binary, that her show gave them a space where they could see people like themselves. They thanked her for creating such diverse characters and for representing them.
“I never had a show like this for me as a child, and that means a lot to me,” Sugar said during the panel discussion. “So I’m glad to know that adults can also relate to it.”
“Steven Universe” isn’t the only children’s show integrating the LGBTQ community into story lines.
“Adventure Time” and “The Loud House” also on Cartoon Network, DreamWork’s “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” and even PBS children’s staple “Arthur” all have included LGBTQ characters and visibility.
That representation is important. It also positively impacts LGBTQ youth on on different levels, said a spokeswoman with California’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group.
“What we know is that representation in all media matters,” said Beatriz Valenzuela of Equality California. “We saw that in “Black Panther.” we see it on “Orange Is the New Black” and on “Vida.”
“It’s especially important for our LGBTQ youth to feel seen and represented in the shows that they watch — and for their peers to see positive portrayals of LGBTQ people,” she said. “Shows like “Steven Universe,” “The Legend of Korra,” “Arthur,” and “Star vs. The Force of Evil” give young people who may face lack of acceptance at home, at school, or in their community, a space where they can feel like they belong.”
‘Steven Universe’ lesbian wedding
“Steven Universe” achieved two historic firsts last year. “Steven Universe”featured the first lesbian marriage proposal and lesbian wedding on children’s television.
Also, one of the “Steven Universe” main characters, Stevonnie, revealed they are intersex and non-binary in a Dove commercial about cyberbullying. Sugar had previously worked on the Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time,” which also featured queer relationships.
Although the usual social conservatives have criticized the inclusion of LGBTQ characters and storylines, most recently the same-sex marriage of Mr. Nigel Ratburn on PBS’s “Arthur,” most of the public have not been offended by the programs and have embraced them.