Watch: 'Strange World' to Feature First Out Gay Teen Character in Disney Film

Saturday November 19, 2022
Originally published on November 19, 2022

A scene from Disney's "Strange World" featuring the character Ethan Clade, voiced by out actor Jaboukie Young-White.
A scene from Disney's "Strange World" featuring the character Ethan Clade, voiced by out actor Jaboukie Young-White.  (Source:Disney via IMDb)

There's another LGBTQ+ character being welcomed into the Mouse House.

Variety reports that the upcoming animated Disney film "Strange World," which explores "a fantastical environment full of mysterious creatures and flora" as it follows the Clades family, will also be the first to include a gay teen romance.

The film features Ethan Clade, "a biracial, openly gay teenager who gets completely tongue-tied when he's near his crush, Diazo." Out comic Jaboukie Young-White ("Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens," "Rap Sh!t") provides the voice for Ethan and said the character "sort of resembled me."

"I thought that it was pretty cool, just in the fact that Don [Hall] and Qui [Nguyen], the creators, really have a commitment to just reflecting what our world looks like and what reality looks like, in a way that isn't heavy-handed or forced," he said. "It's kind of just the way it is."

When speaking to Yahoo Entertainment about the role, Young-White also said: "It was a beautiful thing to be a part of, and something I wish I could have seen when I was that age."

"This isn't a coming out story, and it's not him looking for acceptance of his identity," he added. "That's just who he is, and it's not underlined or made to be a big deal. It's an aspect of Ethan and one of the many things that makes him who he is. I thought that was amazing."

Co-director and writer Nguyen told Variety: "I have a biracial family, so it was something that was easily relatable to me to [have] two people with very different backgrounds fall in love. And now my kid walks both those lines of us — fully Asian, fully Jewish — and that was something I understood inherently."

"His gayness is one part of him. He's also bold and wildly empathetic, which is why he becomes sort of the conservationist in our film," Hall also said. "Also, he's impulsive as teenagers kind of are. So to us, he was just a flesh-and-blood, well-rounded character, and I think we can't wait for the world to embrace him like we did."

"Strange World" also stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union, and Lucy Liu.

"Folks keep using the word 'normalize,' and you don't have to normalize normal. It just is," Union told Variety. "You got to see a loving family that was incredibly supportive of their child's identity, and their version of trying to steer him to safety or steer him is more in terms of his occupation — and the route he's gonna go in life."

"I was really glad that the script didn't point to it," Quaid added, referring to Ethan's sexuality. "It wasn't explained or this or that, or have to go through the coming out thing — and that's okay. I think we're well past that as a culture."

"Strange World" is the latest Disney film to feature an LGBTQ character, following Marvel and Pixar movies like "Onward," "Lightyear," "Eternals" and "Wakanda Forever: Black Panther."

"Strange World" hits theaters on Nov. 23. Check out the trailer below.