Steven Universe’s creator just came out as non-binary
Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar has come out as non-binary.
The 31-year-old is the mind behind the popular American cartoon series, which has repeatedly earned praise for its portrayal of queer characters like lesbians Ruby and Sapphire, who got engaged earlier this month.
The Cartoon Network show’s groundbreaking depiction of the relationship has won praise from many – even as the programme has faced repeated censorship around the world over its LGBTQ content.
And in a revealing interview with NPR, Sugar revealed she was a non-binary woman, while speaking about how her identity has influenced Steven Universe.
Sugar, who has previously worked on Adventure Time and has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award five times, said: “One of the things that’s really important to me about the show is that the Gems are all non-binary women.
“They’re very specific and they’re coming from a world where they don’t really have the frame of reference. They’re coded female which is very important,” she added.
“I was really excited because I felt like I had not seen this.
“To make a show about a young boy who was looking up to these female-coded characters—they appear to be female, but they’re a little more representative of nonbinary women.”
She explained that the Gems, central characters in the show, “wouldn’t think of themselves as women, but they’re fine with being interpreted that way amongst humans.
“And I am also a non-binary woman, which has been really great to express myself through these characters because it’s very much how I have felt throughout my life.”
Sugar has previously explained the value of the on-screen visiblity.
Speaking in 2016, she said: “You can’t wait until kids have grown up to let them know that queer people exist.
“There’s this idea that that is something that should only be discussed with adults — that is completely wrong. If you wait to tell queer youth that it matters how they feel or that they are even a person, then it’s going to be too late!”
Sugar pointed out that Disney films have featured romantic themes and heteronormative love from a young age.
She added: “I think a lot about fairy tales and Disney movies and the way that love is something that’s always discussed with children.
“You’re told that you should dream about love, about this fulfilling love that you’re going to have.
“The prince and Snow White aren’t someone’s parents, they’re someone you wanna be.
“You’re sort of dreaming about a future where you will find happiness. Why shouldn’t everyone that?
“I loved Disney movies when I was little, but I didn’t really feel like they were me, ever.”
Unlike Disney films, TV is experiencing a purple patch in terms of LGBT representation, with a report last year showing that there are more queer characters on TV than ever before.
If you’ve been watching Legends of Tomorrow, you will have also cheered at Sara Lance and Ava Sharpe kissing earlier this year to make their romance canon.
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Marvel’s Runaways also includes a lesbian superhero, in the shape of Karolina Dean, a main character who slowly realises her sexuality while also figuring out her powers.
And Freeform’s The Bold Type, a US drama about women who work at a feminist magazine in New York City, features a Muslim lesbian getting together with a queer black woman.
The show attracted praise for its representation of a lesbian couple involving two women of colour, one of whom unapologetically embraces their faith without feeling guilty about their sexuality.