Disney‘s Strange world promises to be full of adventures. At the film’s red carpet premiere, the film’s cast and crew, including Jake Gyllenhaal and Gabrielle Union, spoke positively of including Ethan and his journey in the film.
Strange world focuses on the Clade family, who routinely go on adventures together, or used to. Dennis Quaid stars as patriarch Jaegar Clade, but his son, lead Searcher Clade (voiced by Gyllenhaal), lacks the bravery of his adventurous family and has settled into the life of a farmer with his wife Meridian Clade (voiced by union voice). The two are parents to Ethan (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), a 16-year-old boy who happens to be gay and in love.
Variety caught up with the stars of Strange world at the red carpet premiere, including Union, Gyllenhaal, Young-White and executive producer Jennifer Lee, who spoke positively about the inclusive nature of the film. Union, who is the mother of a trans daughter, stated: “A lot of people are trying to erase entire parts of our population and trying to reimagine reality without LGBTQIA people. The reality is that we exist everywhere, in every part of the world.” Gyllenhaal, who has been a longtime LGBTQ+ ally, praised the film for his attitude towards his gay character, saying, “They normalize the normal… that’s exactly how every movie should be.”
Meanwhile, Young-White, who identifies as gay, stated that he was proud of the film’s gay history. “I don’t think it really hits you until it’s out in the world, and you see how much it means to people,” Young-White said. Producer Jennifer Lee praised director Don Hall, saying, “These were all bringing their lives and the people they love and the people they know, and talking about, ‘How do we really live our lives, and this is our family, and these they are these incredible characters that are part of our family.’ And so that authenticity of character, authenticity of love from all those in our lives, in a very diverse part of our worlds, all come from that team.”
The inclusion of a gay story in the film speaks to the growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ media in family entertainment. For example, Strange things recently confirmed that Will Byers is gay, with her storyline in season 4 centering around coming to terms with her crush on Mike. However, that move was not without controversy from more conservative audiences.
In an era where gay rights are still under attack (see Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill), a gay storyline that is central to the film and cannot be removed without major modifications is still a revolutionary act. From the comments made by the cast and crew, it certainly seems that Strange world It won’t feature a blink-and-miss “gay moment,” nor will audiences have to speculate based on little clues: it’s just a fact of life for the characters.
Strange world hits theaters on November 23, 2022.