gay cartoon characters

27 Gay Cartoon Characters Celebrating LGBTQ+ Visibility

Representation in media is more important than ever, and cartoons are no exception. Seeing gay cartoon characters on screen helps to normalize LGBTQ+ identities and offers relatable role models for viewers. Over the years, many shows have introduced memorable gay characters, breaking barriers and celebrating diversity.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most iconic and influential gay cartoon characters who have made a significant impact on both the industry and audiences worldwide.

Gay Cartoon Characters

1. Smithers (The Simpsons)

Smithers

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Waylon Smithers, the loyal assistant to Mr. Burns on “The Simpsons,” has long been one of the most recognizable gay cartoon characters. For many seasons, his sexuality was implied through subtle hints and jokes.

It wasn’t until the episode “The Burns Cage” (Season 27, Episode 17) that Smithers openly came out as gay. In this episode, Homer tries to find a boyfriend for Smithers after realizing how unhappy he is with his unrequited love for Mr. Burns. Smithers’ journey from implied to openly gay character reflects the evolving acceptance and representation of LGBTQ+ characters in media.

2. Korra and Asami (The Legend of Korra)

Korra and Asami’s relationship in “The Legend of Korra” is one of the most celebrated examples of LGBTQ+ representation in animation. Their romantic relationship is confirmed in the series finale, “The Last Stand” (Book 4, Episode 13), where they hold hands and walk into the spirit world together.

This moment was groundbreaking, as it was one of the first instances where a same-sex relationship was explicitly depicted in a children’s animated series. Their relationship was further explored in the follow-up comic series “Turf Wars,” where they navigate their new life as a couple.

3. Mr. Simmons (Hey Arnold!)

Mr. Simmons

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Mr. Simmons, the beloved teacher from “Hey Arnold!,” was subtly portrayed as gay throughout the series. His sexuality was confirmed in the 2017 TV movie “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie.” In the film, a flashback shows Mr. Simmons celebrating Thanksgiving with his partner, Peter.

Although his sexuality was not a focal point of the original series, his inclusion as an openly gay character in the movie was a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media.

4. Ruby and Sapphire (Steven Universe)

Ruby and Sapphire from “Steven Universe” are a fusion gem that forms the character Garnet. Their relationship is a central element of the show, symbolizing love, trust, and unity. In the episode “The Answer” (Season 2, Episode 22), their love story is beautifully told, showcasing their initial meeting and eventual decision to stay fused out of love.

Their wedding in the episode “Reunited” (Season 5, Episode 23) was a landmark moment, featuring one of the first same-sex marriages in a children’s animated series. This event was celebrated for its positive representation and heartfelt storytelling.

5. Benson (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts)

Benson

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Benson from “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts” is a significant character for LGBTQ+ representation. He openly comes out as gay in the episode “Ratland” (Season 1, Episode 6) when he gently lets Kipo down after she expresses her feelings for him, saying, “I’m gay.”

This moment is handled with care and respect, showing Benson’s honesty and the strong friendship that follows. His casual and confident portrayal as an openly gay character is a refreshing and important aspect of the show, contributing to the normalization of LGBTQ+ identities in animation.

6. Howard and Harold McBride (The Loud House)

Howard and Harold McBride are the first married gay couple to appear in a Nickelodeon cartoon. They are the loving and supportive parents of Clyde McBride, one of the main characters in “The Loud House.” Their debut in the episode “Overnight Success” (Season 1, Episode 19) was a milestone for representation.

The McBrides are depicted as caring and attentive parents, breaking stereotypes and providing a positive portrayal of a same-sex couple raising a child. Their inclusion in the show has been praised for promoting diversity and acceptance in children’s programming.

7. Double Trouble (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power)

Double Trouble

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Double Trouble is a non-binary shape-shifter who uses they/them pronouns in “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.” They are a cunning and theatrical character who initially works as a spy for the Horde. In the episode “Flutterina” (Season 4, Episode 1), Double Trouble’s abilities and pronouns are introduced, and they play a significant role throughout the fourth season.

Their inclusion as a non-binary character brings much-needed representation to LGBTQ+ identities beyond just sexual orientation, showing the importance of gender diversity in media.

8. Todd Chavez (BoJack Horseman)

Todd Chavez from “BoJack Horseman” represents asexuality, a less commonly depicted aspect of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Todd’s journey towards understanding and accepting his asexuality is explored in depth throughout the series.

In the episode “Hooray! Todd Episode!” (Season 4, Episode 3), he openly discusses his asexuality with his girlfriend, Emily, and later becomes involved in the asexual community. His character’s storyline brings visibility to asexual individuals and highlights the importance of self-acceptance and community support.

9. Patrick Star (The Patrick Star Show)

Patrick Star

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While Patrick Star from “SpongeBob SquarePants” is not explicitly stated to be gay in the main series, he is often portrayed with queer characteristics. In “The Patrick Star Show,” a spin-off, there are episodes that further explore Patrick’s flamboyant and gender-fluid traits, contributing to his status as an LGBTQ+ icon among fans. Episodes like “The Girl with the Dragon Maul” show Patrick embracing different identities and roles, subtly promoting acceptance and fluidity.

10. Marceline and Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time)

Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum have a complex and deep relationship in “Adventure Time.” Their romantic connection is confirmed in the series finale “Come Along with Me” (Season 10, Episode 13), where they share a kiss.

This moment was a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ representation in animation, as it depicted a same-sex relationship in a beloved children’s series. Their relationship is further explored in the spin-off series “Adventure Time: Distant Lands,” providing more depth to their bond and affirming their love.

11. Ray Gillette (Archer)

Ray Gillette

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Ray Gillette, the openly gay field agent in “Archer,” is a key character who brings diversity to the action-comedy series. Throughout the show, Ray’s sexuality is portrayed with humor and complexity, often involving him in various storylines that highlight his skills and personal life.

In the episode “Bloody Ferlin” (Season 3, Episode 9), Ray returns to his home state and introduces his boyfriend, showcasing a more personal side of his character. Ray’s representation in a genre typically dominated by straight characters is both refreshing and significant.

12. Amity Blight (The Owl House)

Amity Blight from “The Owl House” is a significant character in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. Initially introduced as a rival to the protagonist, Luz, Amity’s character development reveals a more complex and endearing personality. Their relationship evolves from rivalry to friendship and eventually romance.

In the episode “Wing It Like Witches” (Season 1, Episode 17), it becomes clear that Amity has feelings for Luz. This relationship is further explored in Season 2, particularly in the episode “Escaping Expulsion,” where Amity blushes and acts nervously around Luz. Their growing bond has been celebrated for its positive portrayal of a same-sex relationship in a children’s animated series.

13. SpongeBob SquarePants (SpongeBob SquarePants)

SpongeBob SquarePants

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SpongeBob SquarePants, the lovable sea sponge, has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ icon, especially following Nickelodeon’s 2020 Pride Month tweet. While SpongeBob’s sexual orientation is not explicitly stated in the series, his flamboyant personality and close relationships with characters like Patrick Star have endeared him to the LGBTQ+ community.

Episodes like “The Secret Box” (Season 2, Episode 15) showcase his playful and affectionate nature, reinforcing his status as a beloved character who transcends traditional gender and sexuality norms.

14. Officer Specter (Onward)

Officer Specter, from the Disney-Pixar film “Onward,” is Disney’s first openly LGBTQ+ animated character. Voiced by Lena Waithe, Officer Specter casually mentions her girlfriend in a scene, breaking ground for LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream animated films.

This subtle yet significant moment occurs when Specter is talking to Ian and Barley, offering a glimpse into her personal life. This character’s inclusion signifies a positive step toward normalizing LGBTQ+ identities in children’s media.

15. Officer Blubs and Deputy Durland (Gravity Falls)

Officer Blubs and Deputy Durland

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Officer Blubs and Deputy Durland from “Gravity Falls” are portrayed as a loving same-sex couple. Their relationship is hinted at throughout the series, but it becomes more apparent in the final episode “Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls” (Season 2, Episode 20), where they declare their love for each other. Their inclusion in the show adds a layer of diversity and representation, making “Gravity Falls” one of the early animated series to feature an openly gay couple in children’s television.

16. Mitch Downe (ParaNorman)

Mitch Downe from the animated film “ParaNorman” is notable for being one of the first openly gay characters in a children’s movie. Throughout the film, Mitch is portrayed as a laid-back teenager who helps Norman battle zombies. His sexuality is casually revealed at the end when he mentions his boyfriend to Norman’s sister, Courtney. This subtle and positive representation was praised for normalizing LGBTQ+ characters in children’s media.

17. Sapphire and Ruby (Steven Universe)

Sapphire and Ruby

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Sapphire and Ruby from “Steven Universe” are a fusion gem, forming Garnet. Their deep, loving relationship is central to the show’s narrative. Their love story is explored in “The Answer” (Season 2, Episode 22) and reaches a landmark moment with their wedding in “Reunited” (Season 5, Episode 23), featuring one of the first same-sex weddings in a children’s animated series. Their portrayal has been widely praised for promoting acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ+ relationships.

18. Mr. Ratburn (Arthur)

Mr. Ratburn, the beloved teacher from the long-running PBS series “Arthur,” was revealed to be gay in the episode “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” (Season 22, Episode 1). In this episode, Mr. Ratburn’s students discover that their teacher is getting married, and they try to find out who the bride is.

In a delightful twist, they find out that Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying Patrick, another male character. The wedding is a heartwarming ceremony attended by his students, who are supportive and happy for him. This revelation was praised for its positive representation of a same-sex relationship in children’s media, showcasing that love is love, regardless of gender.

19. Patty Bouvier (The Simpsons)

Patty Bouvier

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Patty Bouvier, Marge Simpson’s sister from “The Simpsons,” is openly gay. Her sexuality is explored in several episodes, notably in “There’s Something About Marrying” (Season 16, Episode 10), where she comes out and plans to marry her partner, Veronica.

This episode addresses issues such as acceptance and homophobia in a humorous yet meaningful way. Patty’s character adds to the diversity of “The Simpsons” cast and brings LGBTQ+ representation to the forefront, making her one of the significant gay characters in long-running animated television.

20. Ren and Stimpy (The Ren & Stimpy Show)

While the nature of their relationship is often depicted in a humorous and exaggerated manner, Ren and Stimpy from “The Ren & Stimpy Show” have moments that suggest a close and affectionate bond that can be interpreted as a same-sex relationship.

The show’s creator, John Kricfalusi, has hinted at their queer subtext, making them early examples of ambiguous LGBTQ+ characters in animation. Despite the show’s controversial and often crude humor, the depiction of their relationship has been seen by some as an early, albeit subtle, nod to queer representation.