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Disney Channel Makes History with First Coming Out Story

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

Television and children’s programming, specifically, have never quite been taken seriously in how much they influence the children who watch. TV shows matter to us when we’re growing up and that power hasn’t always been acknowledged or used to make change. In its 34-year history, Disney Channel has become a global success, reaching children all over the world, and it is finally giving a voice to those kids yearning to see themselves on screen. 

It’s been a long road but the network has slowly begun to truly represent all kinds of families for the average viewership made up of tweens, a fundamental time in growing up. At the helm is Disney’s new hit show Andi Mack created by the mind behind the Disney classic Lizzie McGuire, Terri Minsky. The show broke typical Disney boundaries when it premiered in April of this year, revealing that the main character’s older sister was actually her mother. The show has tackled topics often ignored or sugar coated on other kid shows like teen motherhood, interracial relationships, the treatment natural hair receives and the sexist double standard with school dress codes. 

Last Friday the show made history when it aired the first coming out story for a main character on a Disney show. While same-sex parents and the network’s first same-sex kiss were already featured on other shows, this is the first time Disney will center a storyline on a coming out journey. It will truly be a wonderful story to explore for all that comes with taking that brave first step for anyone, let alone a kid still trying to figure life out. The scene was played quietly, realistically. Cyrus (Joshua Rush) sits in a diner with his best friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie) and finally reveals to her that he has a crush on a boy, their classmate and other best friend’s new boyfriend. The tenderness between them, the support Buffy gives Cyrus, is a monumental moment. 

Hailed by advocacy groups like GLAAD and the actors and producers on the show as well, it is a moment where LGBT kids will see themselves onscreen and no longer feel alone; a moment where they finally see that they are no different and no less worthy of a happy life. It is a stepping-stone to start conversations and change hearts and minds. While Cyrus’ story is the first, I hope more and different kinds will follow; an ordinary scene that has built the foundation for something extraordinary. A future where LGBT kids will grow up feeling free to be authentically themselves.

Cover Photo: http://www.seventeen.com