Mr. Ratburn became one of the cartoon world’s most visible queer characters when he married his chocolatier partner Patrick on the season 22 premiere of Arthur. And while that may have angered many Republicans, and the state of Alabama, we know that there has been plenty of gay representation on cartoons for quite some time. They just weren’t out yet. Now that Ratburn had his wedding day in the sun, here are some other cartoon characters who should follow suit and live out loud.
Brain is obviously hell-bent on destroying the world, but it always seems like he’d like to do it after a quick viewing of his favorite camp classic, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Brain is the stereotypical older, white gay bachelor — just, you know, if he were super evil.
Anyone who grew up watching Looney Tunes knows that Bugs Bunny not only has a penchant for drag, but also looks damn good in makeup. And, as evidenced in the short “Rabbit Fire,” Daffy seems to be into pup play. Their long-standing rivalry would play out really well on a reality show if set in the current era.
Let’s face it. Alongside Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling” Frozen’s coming out anthem “Let It Go” is one of the biggest pride anthems of the mid-aughts. And don’t forget that fans wanted Disney to let Elsa take the queer plunge with the #GiveElsaaGirlfriend campaign.
OK, hear me out. Grandma and Grandpa on Hey Arnold! do love each other, but — Grandpa’s crush on actress Hedy Lamarr aside — doesn’t it seem like the two were always best friends who had a lavender marriage? A lavender marriage is an opposite-sex marriage meant to conceal one or both partner’s queer tendencies. I think Phill has an old Navy buddy and Gertrude has an old housewife friend in their pasts!
Not only is the titular He-Man gay, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is considered one of the gayest cartoons ever. Even his origin story — ”Fabulous secret powers were revealed to him the day he held aloft his magic sword” — screams queer.
Forget Judy, there was only one diva to whom Kronk swore his eternal standom: the larger-than-life Yzma (as played by gay icon Eartha Kitt). Kronk was a muscly gym bunny who said “Bye, Felicia!” to gender norms and enjoyed prepping a light meal of soup and salad (perfect for bottoming), as well as wearing skirts and dancing.
Speaking of gym bunnies, let’s give a shoutout to bisexual icon Li Shang, who fell in love with Mulan regardless of her gender presentation. When Li Shang sings the masc anthem “Make a Man Out of You” to Mulan, he’s really singing it to her alter ego, Ping. And when he finds out Ping is Mulan, he seems kinda disappointed — but the film leaves it ambiguous as to whether they’ll get together. I see a lot of role playing in their future.
Ren and Stimpy may be the most enduring same-sex couple in all of cartoondom. Not only did they have a great domestic life, their sex life looked like a full-on kink fantasy. I mean, the way they went about sawing wood was just basically having anal sex together.
If you took Charlotte and Betty out of Rugrats, they’d make a lot of sense plopped into the world of The L Word. Charlotte is giving you high power, high femme lipstick lesbian and Betty is rocking a female symbol on a sweater. If these two are looking to destroy the patriarchy, the patriarchy better watch out.
Sebastian is a gay man with a lot of internalized misogyny who needs to learn how to talk to women, especially Ariel, whom he patronizes through most of the The Little Mermaid. Yes, he does it because it’s his job and he doesn’t want Ariel to get into trouble, but you know, he needs to watch his tone!
“A single rat who works too hard / Who loves her kids and never stops / With gentle hands and the heart of a fighter / I’m a survivor.” Yes, those are the lyrics to the Reba theme song with “rat” instead of “mom,” but they kinda work. Splinter is not only a single gay dad to four turtle sons, he’s also the original gay rat, thank you very much, Mr. Ratburn.
Sure, it’s just Seinfeld with sea animals. But let’s be real — every major character and most minor characters on the show are queer AF. Spongebob is the happy-go-lucky twink at the center of the story, whereas Patrick is his bear friend. Sandy is their queer friend who is smarter than everyone else and Squidward is the old, miserly gay next door who is jealous of his neighbor’s youthful dalliances. The straight people on Spongebob are the interchangeable townspeople fish.
Gay marriage wasn’t legal in all 50 United States for another 20 years after Timon and Pumbaa made their big screen debut in The Lion King, but it’s hard to deny the impact that this couple’s presence had on the fight for marriage equality. However, their sex life is definitely way more vanilla than Ren and Stimpy’s.
Scooby Doo is a product of the 1970s, a time when queer people were finally getting recognition nationwide and no cartoon character better solidifies 1970s queer representation than bookish Velma, who, when not solving mysteries, no doubt spent most of her time trying to explain The Feminine Mystique to Daphne.
Is there any OG lesbian more OG than Miss Frizzle? She was voiced by Hollywood lesbian royalty Lily Tomlin (oh, and her replacement on the Netflix follow-up series, Miss Fiona Frizzle, is also voiced by out lesbian Kate McKinnon). And let’s be honest, Miss Frizzle crawled so that Mr. Ratburn could walk — down the aisle.