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The Owl House Changed the Game for Disney's LGBTQ+ Representation

The series centered Luz's bisexuality and her relationship with Amity instead of just alluding to it.
  • Amity and Luz (Screenshot: The Owl House)
    Amity and Luz (Screenshot: The Owl House)

    When Disney Channel’s The Owl House first blasted into the Demon Realm in 2020, the animated series provided a delightful escape from reality for kid and adult viewers alike. Although the show ran for just three seasons, it amassed a fiercely loyal fanbase and garnered widespread acclaim for its blend of humor, horror, and heartfelt storytelling. 

    Created by Dana Terrace, the series centered on Luz Noceda (Sarah-Nicole Robles), a 14-year-old Dominican-American girl who finds a portal that leads to Boiling Isles, a magical realm in another dimension. Luz decides to stay and pursue her dream of becoming a witch, attending Hexside Academy and befriending a host of eccentric characters like her mentor Eda (Wendie Malick), skull-headed titan King (Alex Hirsch), and quirky house demon Hooty (also Hirsch). 

    The Owl House’s Afro-Latina protagonist, portrayal of neurodiversity, and surprisingly heavy, complex themes set it apart from a sea of Disney Channel programs. However, the show’s biggest legacy is its stellar LGBTQ+ representation. 

    Obviously, there’s a long and ugly history of opposition and censorship when it comes to having anything remotely queer in kids’ shows. For a long time, LGBTQ+ representation in Disney shows only came in the form of “blink and you’ll miss it” moments: a gay couple holding hands in the background, a secondary character who mentions having two dads, or, at best, maybe a queer relationship confirmed off screen. The only real exception was Andi Mack, which featured the first gay main character in Disney Channel history, along with the 2020 short Out.

    The Owl House was a game changer for representation — the series didn’t just vaguely hint at the existence of queerness; instead, it made a point of actively centering LGBTQ+ characters, identities, and relationships. 

    Luz and Amity’s (Mae Whitman) relationship, dubbed “Lumity” by fans, was a centerpiece of the show. They’re a classic rivals-to-lovers ship — they initially butt heads at Hexside, and Amity makes fun of Luz for not being a real witch. However, they eventually find common ground and become friends. The biggest turning point for their dynamic is in “Enchanting Grom Fright,” essentially The Owl House’s take on a prom episode. The girls team up to defeat Grom and later share a dance, with the audience learning that Amity wanted to ask Luz out, but was too afraid of being rejected. 

    When Luz and Amity officially get together in "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Hooty's Door,” it’s sweet and realistic. “Everything is so crazy right now and I have no idea what the future holds,” Luz says. “But it would be so cool if you were in it.” They clumsily hold hands, blushing and admitting that it feels “scary” to finally confess their feelings. It’s refreshing to not only see a queer relationship become canon, but also be portrayed just like any other first relationship: awkward and a little messy, but teeming with innocence and joy. Their first kiss in “Through The Looking Glass Ruins” was similarly perfect and marked Disney’s first same-sex kiss between lead characters, a milestone that was long overdue. 

    However, The Owl House isn’t just notable for Lumity — the series also makes a point of highlighting Luz’s bisexuality in itself. In the Season 3 episode “Thanks to Them,” she comes out to her mom, Camila (Elizabeth Grullon), in the most delightful way possible: a presentation on her laptop featuring pictures of her and Amity together, plus a drawing of her holding the bisexual flag with the caption, “Hi! I’m bi!” Camila reacts ecstatically, leaping up to give both Luz and Amity a hug as animated rainbows and bisexual flags pop up in the background. 

    Given how many shows across genres won’t even say the word “bisexual,” this scene is significant. Not only is Luz the first bisexual lead character in Disney’s history, she has absolutely no qualms about who she is, and it’s wonderful. It’s also refreshing to see a non-white protagonist openly identify as bisexual. 

    The authenticity of this story arc stems in part from the fact that Terrace is bisexual herself and advocated for queer representation in the show from day one. “In [development] I was very open about my intention to put queer kids in the main cast,” she tweeted. “When we were greenlit, I was told by certain Disney leadership that I could not represent any form of bi or gay relationship on the channel.” Fortunately, she added, her “stubbornness paid off” and her vision was eventually supported. “I’m bi! I want to write a bi character, dammit!” she wrote.

    The Owl House wasn’t the first Disney show to have a queer character or same-sex relationship, but it marked a new approach towards representation. The series didn’t just include a single gay character, it featured characters from all across the LGBTQ+ spectrum — Amity is a lesbian, Raine (Avi Roque) is non-binary and uses “they/them” pronouns, King’s father is genderqueer, Lilith (Cissy Jones) is implied to be aromantic and asexual, and Willow (Tati Gabrielle) and Hunter (Zeno Robinson) are confirmed as pansexual and bisexual, respectively. Nor are they strictly defined by their orientation or sexuality; they’re all fully realized and complex characters. It’s easy to see why the series was nominated for a GLAAD Award and received a Peabody Award in 2021.

    While it’s disappointing that The Owl House was canceled after only three seasons — according to Terrace, an executive allegedly believed the show didn’t fit Disney’s “brand” — the show still arguably steered Disney toward more prominent LGBTQ+ representation. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder includes multiple queer Black characters, including Michael (EJ Johnson), who is gay and genderqueer; in 2024, the animated Disney Channel show Hailey’s On It! won a GLAAD Award. On the movies side, Strange World (2022) features Disney’s first gay lead character in an animated film, and Elemental (2023) includes a non-binary protagonist.

    LGBTQ+ representation in kids’ shows, particularly Disney media, is long overdue. The Owl House raised the bar and illustrated that it shouldn’t be seen as revolutionary to merely include a queer character or same-sex relationship. Rather, shows should weave representation into the story organically and write LGBTQ+ protagonists with as much complexity and depth as any other characters, just like Luz and Amity. The Owl House may be over, but its legacy — and Lumity’s — lives on. 

    Seasons 1-3 of The Owl House are available to stream on Disney+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: The Owl House