‘Steven Universe’ Creator Reflects on Historic Same Sex Wedding
Popular animated kids’ TV show “Steven Universe” made history when it depicted a same-sex wedding last month. Show creator, Rebecca Sugar, recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly (EW) to reflect on the significance and challenge of addressing the issue on a show geared for children.
The marriage was between characters Ruby and Sapphire, two members of the Crystal Gems that combine to form one of earth’s alien defenders, Garnet.
Sugar told EW it was “extremely difficult” for her to create this kind of visibility on “Steven Universe”, which airs on the Cartoon Network, but acknowledged that large strides had been made.
“When we started doing this in 2011, it was impossible and it has become possible over the last many years of working really hard to do this,” she explained.
Sugar knew the storyline wasn’t merely to make a political statement but to foster acceptance and inclusion for its young viewers.
“We need to let children know that they belong in this world,” she said. “You can’t wait to tell them that until after they grow up or the damage will be done. You have to tell them while they’re still children that they deserve love and support and that people will be excited to hear their story. When you don’t show any children stories about LGBTQIA characters and then they grow up, they’re not going to tell their own stories because they’re (going to) think that they’re inappropriate.”
Sugar told EW about the organic process of developing characters and plotlines for her show, which can inevitably lead to romantic storylines—and if it occurred within the same gender, it was merely natural for the characters at hand.
“The absolute unfairness of being able to develop certain relationships and having a ceiling on developing other characters’ relationships was so clear,” Sugar explained.
Plans for last month’s groundbreaking storyline were in the process for years, as far back as 2014. Sugar followed the political and social climate of the country from before and after same-sex marriage became legalized in 2015.
“I felt the toll it was taking on my personal mental health and I realized that that is what is happening to millions of children because when this is not in this content, that is what is being said to them,” Sugar said of her struggles with the storyline.
Eventually, she took a stand in 2016—for her show and for herself: Sugar came out as bisexual in 2016, and as non-binary in 2018.
“If this is going to cost me my show that’s fine because this is a huge injustice and I need to be able to represent myself and my team through this show and anything less would be unfair to my audience,” she said.
“As long as certain people are considered to be inappropriate for families and children, there is no equality and we are keeping very young children who are seeing this, especially if they are LGBTQIA, if they’re queer kids, you’re telling them directly that they don’t belong in a family-friendly world if you exclude them from G-rated content,” Sugar told EW.
“Steven Universe” airs Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network.