LGBTQ+ representation in animated media gets more and more visible each day. Gay cartoon characters have appeared in Gravity Falls and The Legend of Korra, to name a few. But in the same way art imitates life, potentially closeted cartoon characters also face the scrutiny of being labeled "other" or "different" by the worlds they inhabit. The animated world proves to be just as difficult to navigate as the physical one, and secretly gay cartoon characters must traverse their own unsteady paths as well. When you think about it, though, the cartoon world provides a fantastic place for potentially gay characters to be introduced, as the wonder and adventure of these worlds provide a vibrant, engaging canvas for children to learn about important topics.
The possibly gay cartoon characters below may not even really be hiding it; they might have just never confirmed it either. Some of the younger characters here likely might not even realize it yet. Not all are gay role models, but many do offer viewers the chance to see someone they identify with. And while speculating on a real person's sexuality is not something you should ever do, guessing about a fictional character may add new facets to characters you thought you knew so well.
- Photo: Recess / Walt Disney
The ultimate tomboy poster girl of late '90s cartoons, Spinelli committed so much to raging against traditional femininity that she even ditched her gendered first name, Ashley. Spinelli's fearlessness inspired a lot of gay kids, and even when society tried to change her, she realized she never needed anyone else's approval except her own.5,3162,620Agree?
NakomaPhoto: Pocahontas / Walt Disney Pictures
Would Pocahontas have ended up with Nakoma if John Smith never came along? Their playful water fights brim with sexual tension, and when Pocahontas gets the hots for John, Nakoma gets a little jealous, as well as protectively worried about her best friend's decisions.4,7822,432Agree?
- Video: YouTube
While Daphne pines after Fred, Mystery Inc.'s other resident female mystery solver always appears fairly comfortable in her singledom. But, maybe this "spinster" is simply waiting for good girlfriend material to come along - or hoping her foxy, redheaded BFF will give up on silly, ascot-wearing Fred. James Gunn (writer of the live-action movie) supported this take on the character.6,7813,571Agree?
- Photo: SpongeBob SquarePants / Nickelodeon
Few animated characters draw the amount of ire from anti-LGBTQ+ critics as SpongeBob SquarePants. Although the happy-go-lucky fry cook who famously lives in a pineapple under the sea shows a romantic interest in female chum Sandy the Squirrel, his flamboyance and hyper-sensitivity caused intense speculation in 2002.
Of course, the Sponge's sizeable LGBTQ+ fanbase felt thrilled by the character's undertones. One adult fan told Entertainment Weekly , "He’s not very masculine for a male character. And he’s soft."6,3773,400Agree?