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Steven Universe’s creator just came out as non-binary

Josh Jackman July 17, 2018

Steven Universe is the first Cartoon Network show created solely by a woman (cartoon network and Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty)

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.

Ruby and Sapphire (Cartoon Network)

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.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Steven Universe creator, voice actor, and author Rebecca Sugar attends the Steven Universe signing during New York Comic Con 2017 - JK at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 5, 2017 in New York City. 27356_002 (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Cartoon Network)
Sugar said the Gems “wouldn’t think of themselves as women, but they’re fine with being interpreted that way amongst humans” (Jason Kempin/Getty)

“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.”

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04: Steven Universe creator, voice actor, and author Rebecca Sugar speaks onstage at the Steven Universe Panel during New York Comic Con 2017 - JK at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 4, 2017 in New York City. 27356_002 (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Turner)
“I am also a non-binary woman” (Jason Kempin/Getty)

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.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04: Steven Universe creator, voice actor, and author Rebecca Sugar speaks onstage attends New York Comic Con 2017 - JK at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 4, 2017 in New York City. 27356_002 (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Turner)
“I loved Disney movies when I was little, but I didn’t really feel like they were me, ever” (Jason Kempin/Getty)

“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.

Since the beginning of 2017, viewers have seen non-binary characters be introduced in Showtime drama Billions and Netflix shows One Day at a Time and Degrassi: Next Class.

Black Lightning features Anissa Pierce, a black lesbian medical student, teacher and – as it turns out – superhero by the name of Thunder.

Nafessa Williams plays Anissa Pierce aka Thunder (PinkNews)

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.

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.

Karolina with friend (YouTube/Hulu)

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.

bold type kiss freeform
(Freeform)

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.

More: cartoon network, entertainment, non-binary, rebecca sugar, steven universe, Television, Trans, Transgender, US, US

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