Rebecca Sugar
Sugar has been a prevailing force in pushing for LGBTQ+ representation in children's media. (Illustration by Jessica Shaklee, University of Georgia)
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Rebecca Sugar

‘Adventure Time’ and ‘Steven Universe’ have both taken bold steps to normalize queer relationships in children’s television.

After years of fighting for representation for the LGBTQ+ community, Rebecca Sugar has changed the television industry by showing characters in kids’ shows that have LGBTQ+ relationships. From “Adventure Time” to “Steven Universe,” she has fought to give a voice to those often shoved under the rug, and it has paid off.

Sugar began creating “Steven Universe” in May 2013, and the show has been giving the queer community representation ever since. Not only does she include characters that are in same-gender relationships, she also explores many other identities in the community by featuring characters that are genderqueer, asexual and polyamorous.

The most prominent LGBTQ+ character in the show is Garnet, who is a fusion of two females that have chosen to spend their lives as one person rather than remaining separate. In Season 2, Garnet says, “It is the love between Ruby and Sapphire that hold her together.”

In creating this, not only does Sugar show a healthy same-sex relationship on television, she also portrays them as a normal couple, having the same issues as everyone else. In Season 5, Sugar gives us the chance to see Ruby and Sapphire explore who they were outside of their relationship and be brought back together with a same-sex wedding to celebrate their love.

Garnet portrays an important same-sex relationship, but Sugar explores more than this in “Steven Universe.” Stevonnie is a combination of the two main characters, Steven, a male, and his friend Connie, a female, who combine as a fusion to become a gender-neutral person. This genderless character represents agender and nonbinary people as bad—s people who aren’t afraid of being masculine and feminine without conforming to a single gender.

Flourite, a character who is in a polyamorous relationship, continues to represent the LGBTQ+ community. And, while the show hasn’t entirely gone into the sexuality of Ametyst, another character, she has shown no interest in getting into a relationship, which suggests that she might be asexual. Sugar’s hard work and dedication in making sure that all kinds of people are represented through this series makes “Steven Universe” stand out amongst other kids’ shows.

And Sugar’s push for representation isn’t just present in “Steven Universe.” After the finale of “Adventure Time,” where Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum are finally shown on screen kissing after years of building up their relationship, Sugar was given the credit for this scene being put into the show. She is responsible for bringing Bubbline to life and giving the LGBTQ+ community a place on the screen in a beloved series. Sugar gave the community something that they need more than anything: relationships actually shown in media rather than just being alluded to.

Sugar has never been afraid of the fight for queer representation. Throughout her journey, she has fought for the right to give screen time to the LGBTQ+ community, even in a G-rated show. In an interview done with Entertainment Weekly, Sugar said, “If this is going to cost me my show that’s fine, because this is a huge injustice and I need to be able to represent myself and my team through this show and anything less would be unfair to my audience.”

Sugar was willing to give up everything that she had spent years creating if it meant that she could give representation to not only her LGBTQ+ teammates, but to kids across the nation who need to see themselves represented on television to reinvent the queer stereotype.

Fans all over the world are excitedly watching Sugar’s intricately crafted characters — her fight has given a voice to the voiceless, and they are ecstatic about her work.

Sugar’s dedication to the LGBTQ+ community comes from her own experiences. Being bisexual, Sugar has first-handedly experienced what it feels to have such little representation in media, which drove her to do her fans justice. Sugar and much of her team are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and recognized the injustice that was taking place.

Shows like Sugar’s have opened doors for inclusion and conversation all over the nation. Through the representation that she has crafted, she has helped the LGBTQ+ community understand that they are nothing less than anybody else.

Kids are able to learn at a young age that it isn’t wrong for them to express themselves however they see fit, which and builds a healthier dialogue for understanding oneself and being open to things that are different from the norm.

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