The Disney Channel had its first openly character say the words “I’m gay” during a recent episode of of the hit show “Andi Mack.”
Joshua Rush plays the character of Cyrus, the first openly gay character on the network. Cyrus told two of his friends, Buffy and Andi, about his sexuality in a previous episode but said the words for the first time during Friday’s episode.
The scene takes place during Cyrus’s grandmother’s shiva, the ritual Jewish mourning period following someone’s death.
Cyrus was showing his best guy friend, Jonah, the traditional food available at the buffet table.
“That, of course, is Aunt Ruthie’s kugel,” Cyrus said. “That’s your classic bagel and lox. That’s gefilte fish, skip that.”
“And I’m gay,” the character addded quickly. .
Jonah, played by actor Asher Angel, simply smiled and said “cool.”
Jonathan Hurwitz, who wrote the episode of “Andi Mack,” said that Cyrus’s coming out experience was similar to his own.
“In the writer’s room, I shared a personal story about how nervous I was to come out to a college friend back in 2010,” Hurwitz wrote in an blogpost for GLAAD. “While grabbing burgers one afternoon, he asked me to pass the ketchup, so I handed him the bottle while mumbling the words, ‘I’m gay.’ He looked up at me, said ‘Cool,’ then proceeded to put ketchup on his burger as if I hadn’t just revealed my most personal, deepest truth.”
“I remember thinking: That’s it?! After a ten-year journey to come out to myself, I finally come out to my friend and all I get is a 'Cool?!' But what I ultimately realized was that my friends and family loved me unconditionally before I’d even learned to truly love myself."
Rush told “Good Morning America” that the response to his character coming out has been “overwhelming positive.”
“Over the last few days I've really gotten to see the myriad of ways that both this new coming-out scene for Cyrus, and this Jewish representation of his family, has affected the fans,” Rush said.
Rush, 17, added that he was bullied a lot when he was Cyrus’s age.
“So it's inspiring to see how Cyrus knows he doesn’t have it all figured out yet, but he isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions about who he might be and what that means for him,” Rush said.
“Andi Mack” airs Friday nights at 8/7 central on the Disney Channel.