The newest short film from Pixar, titled Out, features the animation studio’s first gay main character. Tracing all the way back to the early days of Pixar, shorts have traditionally been attached to the studio’s feature films and played ahead of them in theaters. It’s now become common practice, and many appreciate the shorts for their fun animation styles and touching stories. Five shorts have gone on to win Academy Awards, with the most recent being Bao in 2019. The launch of Disney+ last November provided a new home for these shorts, some of which have begun to debut exclusively on the service through the series SparkShorts.
Pixar, like its parent company Disney, has had something of a complicated past with LGBTQ representation. Its most recent film, Onward, featured a gay character voiced by Lena Waithe, but the character was supporting at best and didn’t make much of an impact on the story. Still, it was steps ahead of the studio’s previous LGBTQ characters. Before Onward, the only representation found in Pixar movies was a lesbian couple in 2016’s Finding Dory, though they were never explicitly stated as such and were purely background characters.
Pixar’s latest short, though, seems to take a much more positive step in the right direction. As the latest installment in the SparkShorts series on Disney+, Out follows a man named Greg who finds himself struggling to come out to his parents while he preps for a big move. Based on the trailer alone, it looks to be a heartwarming, creatively animated short. It began streaming on May 22, so it’s available to watch now. You can see said trailer in the space below.
It might be easy for some to brush this off as “just a short film,” but it’s important to realize how much more this short film does than other Disney movies. Beauty and the Beast relegated LeFou’s big explicitly gay moment to a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance. Avengers: Endgame featured an unnamed man talking about going on a date with another man, a conversation that barely lasted a minute. And, most recently, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker featured a lesbian kiss… between two background characters most fans aren’t familiar with. It’s been a discouraging bit of progress, which is why Out is so refreshing. Yes, it’s a short film, but it’s also one that seems sorely needed right now.
Disney still has a ways to go when it comes to LGBTQ rep, though it seems somewhat interested in providing better representation in its upcoming Marvel movies Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder. As for Pixar, it is the Disney branch that has arguably done the most for LGBTQ visibility (when compared to Disney proper, Marvel, and Lucasfilm), and this is another good sign for the future. There’s always progress to be made, but this feels like a win.