Disney Pixar’s newest film, Onward, is breaking ground with the first-ever LGBTQ character voiced by lesbian actress/writer Lena Waithe. The animated film introduces a self-identified lesbian character named Officer Specter, a cyclops who has a small but significant role in the movie. “It just kind of happened. The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted,” Producer Kori Rae told Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world,” the film’s director, Dan Scanlon added
The storyline follows two elven brothers, Ian and Barley (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) whose father passed away when they were young. On Ian’s 16th birthday, their mother (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) hands them a present from their father, which turns out to be a 24-hour resurrection spell. The brothers have limited experience with magic so the spell is a disaster. As a result, they wind up embarking on journey to find a necessary element before their father is gone. In the meantime, their mom and her new boyfriend, centaur cop Colt Bronco (voiced by Mel Rodriguez), try to catch up with the boys to protect them before they inadvertently unleash a curse on their mission.
Viewers meet Officer Specter in the midst of Ian and Barley’s reckless driving, which catches the attention of the officer’s faun sidekick, Officer Gore (voiced by Ali Wong). In order to avoid being returned to their home, Ian casts a masking spell that temporarily disguises him and Barley as Colt. They initially fool her as they talk about his girlfriends’ kids and what’s it’s like being the new guy and she sympathizes. “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.” This one groundbreaking line recognizes LGBTQ relationships — without viewers ever seeing either her girlfriend or her daughter and it’s fitting that it would be Waithe who brings this character to life.
In 2017, she became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for an acclaimed episode of the Netflix series Master of None that was based on her own coming-out story. During her acceptance speech she thanked her now-wife Alana Mayo, before addressing her LGBTQIA family. “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it,” she said.
Onward is out in theaters March 6.