Now this is the kind of data we love to see!
Insider has put together the first ever database of over 250 LGBTQ+ cartoon characters from animated kids shows, and the information is incredible!
The database sorts characters by show, by network, by gender, by sexuality, by disability, and by other various factors. It includes characters whose gender or sexuality was explicitly addressed in their respective shows, and characters who were later confirmed off screen. It has all the information on LGBTQ+ characters in kids and all-ages animation that you could ever want!
According to the report, the first animated show featuring an LGBTQ+ character was SuperTed, a British series about a teddy bear with superpowers, that aired on the Disney Channel in 1983. The next character wasn’t until 1994’s Gargoyles. In the 2010s, representation started to pick up, as seven shows in 2014 featured LGBTQ+ characters, 12 did in 2018, and 26 did in 2020.
One of the most significant pieces of data gathered by the report shows that a whopping 62 out of the 259 characters featured, almost one-fourth, come from just two shows: Steven Universe and She-Ra. Steven Universe, which was created by Rebecca Suger, who is nonbinary, had the most with 39, and She-Ra, by nonbinary creator Noelle Stevenson, added 23 queer characters.
Unsurprisingly, three shows made by queer showrunners, Steven Universe, She-Ra, and Danger & Eggs (created by Shadi Petowski) are three of the four leading shows when it comes to the number of queer characters, and all of those shows feature main characters included on the list.
Craig of the Creek and OK K.O. are the two shows by cis, straight showrunners with the most queer characters, and both were created by writers who previously worked on Steven Universe. OK K.O. was created by Ian Jones-Quarterly, who is married to Sugar.
Most of the confirmations that these characters are queer are still happening off screen though. Social media and creative-team interviews are the top two ways characters are confirmed to be LGBTQ+ in animation. Again, shows like the previous three mentioned and The Owl House, which is created by bisexual woman Dana Terrace and starts its second season this month, are changing that with more on-screen displays of affection and gender.
The genders of LGBTQ+ characters are also interesting. 102 are cis women, while 86 are cis men. There have been 38 nonbinary characters, which is really incredible especially since that's a group often ignored in the media. Only four trans women and one trans man are listed in the database, with two of the trans women appearing on Danger & Eggs.
A little bit of the information seems to be missing, though. Perfuma, a bisexual character from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, is labeled as a cis woman, despite being confirmed as trans by the creators of the character and show. Additionally, Rogelio and Kyle, two characters who were said by Stevenson to be in a polyamorous relationship with a female character, Lonnie, in the same show, are both labeled as "gay" instead of "bisexual" or "pansexual."
Still, this is one of the most impressive projects covering queer representation in all-ages media and animation that’s ever been put together. It’s sure to be a great resource for fans, journalists, and creatives for years to come.