For media targeted toward a younger audience—animated series, specifically—queer representation is pretty scarce due to concerns of gender identity and sexual orientation being too mature of themes to discuss with kids. In recent years, however, there’s been significant progress in telling queer stories in children’s television programming because as young as they are, queer kids deserve to see characters like them onscreen.
Here are five animated series to watch, featuring proudly queer characters. (Sorry, some major spoilers ahead!)
“Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts”
This sci-fi action adventure follows Kipo Oak, a burrow girl who searches for her father in a post-apocalyptic earth overrun by giant mutated animals. One of her close companions is Benson, who comes out as gay to Kipo in the first season. Most notably, he is the only character to have a love interest throughout the entirety of the show. At the end of the series, he and his boyfriend Troy start a food business together. How adorable is that?
The iconic anime series is beloved not only for its intergalactic adventures but also the queer ambiguities throughout the show. After much inquiry and speculation from fans, the creator confirmed that Sailor Neptune and Uranus are indeed a couple. In stark contrast to the rest of the Sailor Senshi, Uranus presents herself in a more masculine manner. In fact, it’s been confirmed in the recent Sailor Moon Crystal film that she is non-binary, being both a man and a woman.
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power”
Initially, Adora a.k.a. the mythic Princess of Power She-Ra regularly squares off with Catra, a good friend turned mortal foe. This is a conflict that is central to the main plot of the show. As the story progresses, however, Catra has a change of heart and helps Adora in the battle against the evil Horde. In the final season, Adora and Catra explicitly declare their love for each other and kiss. Oh, and Bow has two very attractive dads.
The critically acclaimed coming-of-age story follows young Steven, who joins a group of extraterrestrials called “Crystal Gems” to save the world from otherworldly threats. Not only did the show tackle mature themes like trauma and grief, it also championed queer representation. There is a same-sex proposal and wedding at one point in the show, and it is revealed that Garnet is a manifestation of the romance between two Gems. The series won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Kids & Family Program in 2019, becoming the first animated series to win the award.
“The Legend of Korra”
From the creators of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” comes “The Legend of Korra,” centering on the successor of Aang. Although she is first romantically involved with Mako, she later develops an intimate bond with Asami. In the show’s final shot, the two face each other while holding hands as they embark on a new journey together in the spirit world, alluding, albeit cryptically, to a budding romance. Korra and Asami’s story is continued through a comic series and yes, the two are very much official.