Story at a glance

  • Pixar and Disney have made strides to include LGBTQ+ characters in their films, as in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Onward,” but hadn’t featured one as a lead.
  • A new animated short called “Out” is the first film by the studio to feature an openly gay protagonist.
  • The short, which was released on Harvey Milk Day, is loosely based on writer and director Steven Clay Hunter’s own life.

Pixar, the popular animation studio that brought us films such as “Toy Story” and “Monsters Inc.,” made history today when they released an animated short featuring their first LGBTQ+ lead. 

The short revolves around Greg, a young man who is struggling to open up to his parents about his sexuality. Then, as he and his partner Manuel are getting ready to pack up their home to move, his parents make a surprise visit. Greg is confronted with a choice — to come out to his parents or push Manuel away in the process.

Being a Pixar short, some magic is, of course, involved. From a rainbow-riding cat and dog duo to some "Freaky Friday" body swapping, the hijinks of “Out” teach Greg not only more about himself, but about the internal struggles his mother has been feeling as well.

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The moving short, which is just less than 10 minutes, debuted on Friday on Disney+ and was written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter, an animator who has worked on popular Pixar films such as "Toy Story 4" and "Finding Dory." 

Hunter’s new short, which was loosely based on his own coming out story, was featured as a part of Pixar's SparkShorts series, which was designed to discover new storytellers and experiment with different techniques.

“Out” is the first film in the studio’s 25 years to feature a gay man as the protagonist, a landmark moment for Pixar and for Hunter, who says he didn’t come out until he was in his late 20s. GLAAD also called it “a huge step forward for the Walt Disney Company,” which owns Pixar.

“The first time I drew Greg and Manuel holding each other in the bedroom, I was bawling my face off,” says Hunter. “All this emotion came welling up because I realized I had been in animation for decades and I had never drawn that in my career. It just hit me.”

Hunter says that he felt making the film “was something I had to do,” adding, “you can’t hide who you are for half of your life and then not carry that baggage around. You’ve got to process it somehow. I got lucky enough to process it in the making of this movie.”

Published on May 29, 2020