It was probably no shock to dedicated followers of Disney’s High School Musical, but in the stage version of the film, the obvious is finally revealed: Prolific dancer and on-again-off again Troy Bolton foe Ryan Evans (played by Lucas Grabeel in the films), is gay. His sexuality is never dealt with directly in the Disney movies, but as the show took to the stage, Evans took a more in-your-face gay attitude, reports the website AfterElton, interviewing the playwright David Simpatico. Simpatico says he modeled Ryan on some of his own experiences, and that he was happy for the creative freedom he got to develop the character as he saw fit.
This move could, of course, make it even harder for boys to admit that they enjoy the franchise, but in general I’m for everything that raises the awareness of gay issues in the media. Evans is no doubt the most high profile fictitious gay character since J.K. Rowling outed Albus Dumbledore, and he is probably also a little bit easier for young gays to relate to, as he is neither 1) a wizard or 2) old as hell. One could of course complain that Evans, a soft spoken drama queen and a dancer, is playing to gay stereotypes, but in my view that is beside the point for two reasons: 1) Many gay guys actually like musicals and dancing, and 2) it probably was the easiest way to get this kind of character to fit in to family friendly entertainment.
Sadly, I don’t think we can expect Ryan to be outed in the final High School Musical movie, set to premiere this October. If Disney were to endorse gayness outright, they would run a tremendous commercial risk, which I suspect they are not ready to take. But then again, I’m not sure how much it matters. Many people already assumed Ryan to be gay, and now that we know for sure, new light has been shed on both the previous movies, and the fall release.
For Lucas Grabeel, however, I sense rumours of his gayness will not die down anytime soon.