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Though famous for its feature films, Pixar also produces a prolific amount of shorts, and this year’s entry, Out, which can now be watched on Disney+, marks two firsts for the acclaimed animation studio. Indeed, not only is this the company’s first piece of content to premiere directly on digital platforms, but it’s also the first to feature an explicitly gay main character.
The nine minute film, which premiered on Disney’s recently-launched streaming service this Friday, tells the story of a man dealing with the difficulty of coming out to his parents, an ordeal which is accelerated when the latter pay a surprise visit to the former as he and his boyfriend are preparing to move to the city.
One of seven films to come out of Pixar’s 2020 SparkShorts program – a producing fellowship designed to help the studio “discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows” – Out was not dreamed up from the same imaginations of the OG animators who own and run the 3D animation business, but was the brainchild of a new generation of filmmakers who have only just begun to enter it.
While Out enters the history books for having Pixar’s first openly gay protagonist, it’s not the studio’s first film to include a homosexual character. Onward, which released earlier this year, featured a lesbian cyclops called Spector who, although she only appeared in two scenes, received widespread attention from the media.
Toy Story 4, another pretty recent Pixar film, though several months older than Onward, also included two gay characters, but relegated them to the background. At the very beginning of the movie, when Bonnie gets dropped off at school, keen eyes will be able to spot another child being waved off – and later picked up again – by two mothers.
While many lament the historical absence of homosexuality in animated films, a good deal of people also look at this absence as hiding a wealth of untold stories, ones which have only recently begun to be explored, and are sure to lead to some captivating and above all original content moving forward.