I fangirled out over Ali Liebert after a podcast interview and now I’m doing it again with Rebecca Sugar just in time for new Steven Universe episodes coming out on the Cartoon Network app tomorrow!
I am a Steven Universe Superfan.
I legit achieved this status when I got a Steven Universe tattoo. I would never get a tattoo of a thing created by another person, especially someone I have never met. However, I was so inspired by Rebecca Sugar and Steven Universe that I did it for the first time.
I’m a big hit with my daughter’s 6th grade classmates.
I have a pumpkins tattooed on my arm and shoulder, and I figured if anything bad ever happened with Steven Universe I could say Pumpkin is a cute pumpkin that blends in with my other pumpkins.
However, after listening to Rebecca interviewed on Cameron Esposito’s Queery Podcast, I firmly believe I will never regret my tattoo decision.
Rebecca Sugar is the out queer show creator of our dreams
Listening to Rececca Sugar talk about being bisexual and her coming out process was very sweet and inspiring.
For so long I just assumed I couldn’t talk about it. I think…it has a lot to do with being bisexual. I didn’t realize I could be out as a bisexual person. …I thought I could only be out if I were with a woman.
I imagine this is an experience many bisexual people have had — feeling your orientation is defined by the person you are in a relationship with. I’m so glad she came to the realization that she can be out as bi no matter who she is with. Her willingness to be out is helping fight bi erasure and boosting bi representation.
She goes on to talk about her coming out journey and how the queer stories on the show were outing her, although she was not yet out in real life.
There was a stretch of time where 100,000 children knew I was gay, and it was a conversation I hadn’t had with my family. It was very very strange. …But I’m also not gay, so it’s not something that anyone knew and yet everyone knew and I was in this really strange situation.
She talked about deciding to not be out about it in public for a while, because she feared people would think she was seeking attention, and as a shy person this did not align with her personality.
The idea that I could be with the person I wanted to be with and be out — I had never understood that before. I thought it was a choice I was going to have to make that I would just be closeted forever if I was going to be with the person that I loved. I had just accepted that.
But the thought of being out and the happiness that came with it grew too strong for her to stay closeted. Because of that, along with feeling driven to champion queer content on family television, Rebecca came out at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con.
I want to champion LGBTQIA content in G rated, family entertainment. I want to do that forever. …Part of that is I have to start talking about it.
Rebecca Sugar is leading a quiet revolution.
Whenever I tell people about Steven Universe (which is all the time) I tell them it’s one of the most revolutionary shows on television today. I am constantly amazed by the stories and concepts honestly portrayed on the show that are not covered by children’s television elsewhere.
..including these characters and these themes in media for kids is so crucial. What you learn when you don’t see that, is your story isn’t interesting and it isn’t beautiful. …If your experience has been completely invisible in all kids’ media…[and] you see it [on non-children’s programming] and you know that it was for adults you still know as a kid ‘I wasn’t supposed to see that’ and that has a really profound effect on a kid. To know the that thing you relate to is not supposed to be for kids. What you learn is in a family-friendly, all-ages, appropriate world you’re not supposed to be there. And you internalize that so hard.
Can you imagine how our lives would be as adults if we saw our stories included in the TV shows we watched as kids? Part of coming out as an adult is getting the homo/bi/transphobic messages we grew up with out of our heads so we can be happy queer people.
By the time I was 11, I already got the message that being LGB or T was one of the worst things you could be. My daughter is 11 and her friends, who are all over the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, love Steven Universe and strongly relate to the characters and stories. They are confident in who they are and way more evolved about queer issues than I was at 21.
Steven Universe helped Rebecca understand herself.
Much like Bomb Girls helped Ali Liebert come out, Steven Universe did the same for Rebecca.
I love when people come to me and say that the show helped them come out, or brought them to a [queer] circle of friends. …It’s just so great…and all I can think is ‘me too!’
More and more I’ve come to realize representation matters not just to the people consuming media, but also to the people creating media. The power of positive, realistic stories for all diverse marginalized folks is so strong. More than ever it is important to see these stories included in as many shows as possible.
“It is community not commodity.”
Rebecca talks about she wanted to change the world with her shows, bringing accessible art to kids in their homes. She then learned it was more about helping people find community.
I want to radiate ‘I care’ out of this thing. …I really really care about this and I care about these kids and I want them to feel that in a way that I didn’t feel [as a kid], that I get to feel now.
Please keep talking about it, Rebecca.
Rebecca talks about how being out still feels very new and doubts pop up in her head from time to time.
It feels very ongoing and it still feels very tricky. There’s a voice in the back of my head saying ‘no one’s going to want to hear you talk about this, Rebecca, don’t do it.’ But I’d rather put my energy into making that voice smaller rather than feeding it all of the time.
People absolutely want to hear you talk about this, Rebecca! It’s so important for folks to hear from queer creators who create queer content. Listening to you talk about it is literally saving lives, I have no doubt about that.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Rebecca Sugar for everything she has brought to television. She has changed the game when it comes to queer TV content for kids and brought to the screen other positive messages and important stories usually reserved for adult programming.
I’m going to leave you with “Here Comes a Thought.” I love this song and episode because it is introduces the concept of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy in such a beautiful way. It’s something that kids and adults can both benefit from.
We are lucky to have Rebecca Sugar helping make the world a better place.