ByJonathan Patrick, writer at
The Geek Desk
Jonathan Patrick

Some of the most fun a fan can have when watching a television series is discovering how the characters relate to them and their experiences. For those of us who came out before LGBTQ+ characters were as prevalent as they are today, it was a struggle to find characters we could identify with. Now, with progressive networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network increasing LGBTQ+ visibility in their programming, characters both past and present are finally able to come out.

'The Legend of Korra' [Credit: Nickelodeon]
'The Legend of Korra' [Credit: Nickelodeon]

From Gargoyles' Lexington to The Legend of Korra's Kya, there are more LGBTQ+ characters than most people may realize. While some were closeted for cultural reasons, others simply weren't straight all along –– you just didn't need to know it until you did. With more creators opening up about their characters' sexuality, you're sure to find a few surprises among these nine cartoon characters you didn't know where part of the community.

1. Lexington, Gargoyles

'Gargoyles' [Credit: Buena Vista TV]
'Gargoyles' [Credit: Buena Vista TV]

According to Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman, Lexington, the Manhattan Clan's technical specialist, is in fact gay. However, that wasn't the initial plan. Greg discussed the evolution of Lexington's sexuality, stating:

"We didn’t plan it from the beginning. We didn’t say, 'Okay, here’s the big heavy-set character and here’s the gay character.' Over time, we learned more about the characters. And towards the end, it occurred to us that Lexington was gay but that he didn’t know it. It wasn’t 'liberal Hollywood’s' plan. It was just the way the character played out."

Weisman, however, was unable to explore Lexington's sexuality once he'd figured it out. While Lexington's orientation has since been hinted at in comics years after the series' end, it never came up on screen.

"We were working for a company that would never let us be open about that in those days, so we just tried to write with consistency, if not with courage. And, by the way, the lack of courage is not something I’m particularly proud of."

2 & 3. Marceline The Vampire Queen And Princess Bubblegum, Adventure Time

Fans of Adventure Time may have been surprised to find out that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen had previously dated. A potential relationship between the two was hinted at in the episode "What Was Missing." It was never explicitly stated on screen, as same-sex relationships are illegal in some countries where the show airs.

The notion that the two were bisexual didn't end there. In a studio-endorsed behind-the-scenes video, it was all but confirmed that they had shared in a same-sex relationship. In 2014, Olivia Olson, the voice of Marceline, stated that creator Pendleton Ward had confirmed the two were once an item. Bitch Magazine praised Adventure Time for "[handling] female desire — female queer desire at that — in a subtle but complex way."

4. Maggie Sawyer, Superman: The Animated Series

'Superman: The Animated Series' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Superman: The Animated Series' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Today, you may recognize Maggie Sawyer as Alex Danvers's romantic partner in the CW's Supergirl series, but she first appeared on screen with her girlfriend back in Superman: The Animated Series. Appearing in eight episodes of the '90s show, Sawyer was often seen alongside her Metropolis Special Crimes Unit partner, Dan Turpin. In a few scenes she could also be seen with her romantic partner, Toby Raynes.

During the two part episode "Apokolips... Now!," Raynes can be spotted at Sawyer's bedside when she is hospitalized and again at Turpin's funeral service. In the commentary for the episode "Tools of the Trade," series co-create and producer Bruce Timm noted that those scenes were intended to acknowledge Sawyer's sexual orientation.

5. Mr. Robert Simmons, Hey Arnold!

Hey Arnold! may have ended in 2004, but we continue to learn about the show and its characters. In 2016, the show's creator, Craig Bartlett, confirmed that Arnold's school teacher, Mr. Simmons, was gay.

While it was never explicitly stated he was gay, many episodes throughout the series hinted Mr. Simmons orientation. One episode of note is "Arnold's Thanksgiving," which suggested that one of Mr. Simmons's dinner guests, Peter, was his boyfriend. Perhaps this will be more boldly addressed in Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, which is said to resolve unanswered questions from the series. The film will be released in November 2017.

6. Gobber The Belch, How To Train Your Dragon 2

'How To Train Your Dragon' [Credit: Fox]
'How To Train Your Dragon' [Credit: Fox]

During How to Train Your Dragon 2, everyone's favorite sidekick, Gobber the Belch, surprised everyone by alluding to being gay. In the film, Gobber voice actor Craig Ferguson ad-libbed the line, “This is why I never married. This and one other reason.” The sentiment kicked off fan theories that the character was gay.

Gobber was later confirmed to be gay by both Ferguson and director Dean DeBlois. DeBlois discussed his reasoning for keeping the unplanned line in the film, stating:

"The nice thing that Craig brought to it is, it’s such a hand-off line that I think for the older members of the audience, it’ll take them a moment to realize, like, ‘Did he just say what I think he said?' And then you’re moving on. [The movie] treats it like normalcy, and that’s what I really like about it."

7 & 8. Bucky And Pronk Oryx-Antlerson, Zootopia

Eagle-eyed Zootopia viewers found themselves questioning the nature of Bucky and Pronk Oryx-Antlerson's relationship. The two loud and argumentative neighbors of Judy Hopps only appear briefly, but they certainly come across as a couple. Throw in the fact that they share a hyphenated surname, and you've got reasonable speculation that they are together.

The theory was later confirmed by co-director Jared Bush on Twitter. When asked about it by a curious fan, Bush replied:

"They are a gay married couple. But they don't yell at each other because they're gay, they yell because they're real."

9. Kya, The Legend Of Korra

'The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars' [Credit: Dark Horse Comics]
'The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars' [Credit: Dark Horse Comics]

During The Legend of Korra's run on Nickelodeon, there was speculation that Kya, Avatar Aang's waterbending daughter, was a lesbian. This stemmed from Tenzin mentioning that she had traveled around the world "finding herself," and that Kya never settled down. Though it was never touched on in the series, The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars graphic novel has since made Kya's lesbian orientation canon .

Kya has since become a mentor for Korra and Asami, who are embracing their new romantic relationship. While helping the two understand the cultural responses they can expect to face from the different nations, she mentions that Avatar Kyoshi was bisexual. The fact that she, along with Avatar Kyoshi, were not straight as most had assumed strengthen the idea that Korra and Asami's relationship isn't an anomaly in their world, just as it wouldn't be in ours.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ+ cartoon character?


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