I love cartoons.
Always have I probably always will. I’m a big kid at heart so it’s no surprise that when a new super hero-like cartoon debuted on Cartoon Network in May of 2013, I wanted to check it out. What did I find? Steven. Universe. The most heartfelt, wonderful, affirming, queer show you’ll ever watch. People see the word queer and think “oh this must not be for me because I’m straight” …but the truth is, queer culture is the MOST inclusive culture because it makes no assumptions about who you SHOULD be, and it includes all the possibilities of who you CAN be.
IF YOU’VE NEVER WATCHED, HERE’S A BREAKDOWN:
Steven Universe is basically about a race of aliens, called Gems (The Gem names all correspond with actual gemstones and the humanoid alien creatures all have the Gems they are named after showing somewhere on their bodies), who are world conquerors. The Gem home world tried to take over earth, but a Gem commander named Rose Quartz lead a revolt and the earth remains free because of her and her freedom fighters. Rose Quartz fell in love with a human man and they had a baby…but in order for her son to be born, Rose Quartz had to die and part of her essence was reborn in her son, Steven Universe. Steven is being raised by his earth dad, Greg Universe, and the 3 Gems who were in Rose’s revolt. Garnett, Amethyst, and Pearl are his “moms.” With his moms, Steven fights off monsters and other world alien invasion alongside his pink lion and his best friend Connie.
Our main supporting characters are Garnett (a mix of two Gems sapphire and ruby), Amethyst, and Pearl. Garnett is a gem fusion. A gem fusion happens when the gems DANCE together THEY DANCE together and at the climax of their dance they fuse together and become one gem…a whole new gem. Garnett is a permanent Gem and we find out later in the series that they are actually in love and this is the gem version of a SAME SEX MARRIAGE.
When the uptight moms found out they were a couple they pitched a FIT. They tried to play it off like Garnett was just a couple of REALLY good friends. But jokes on THEM…. the show’s creator hopped on her Tumblr feed to say NO MA’AMS they are absolutely wifeys. So of course, all the queers were like WHERE DO WE TUNE IN FOR THE NEXT EPISODE?
Pearl (Steven’s most uptight guardian) had a GIANT crush on Rose Quartz and there was a weird love triangle between her and Rose and Greg Universe. Guys. DRAMA. Gay DRAMA. However, while on a road trip years later Pearl sees a human woman who sort of looks like Rose and crushes hard on her. In an unexpected turn of events Pearl manages to get Punk Rose’s number at the end of the episode. COME ON LESBIAN REPRESENTATION!
Then there’s Amethyst who is free as a bird. The best and most natural shapeshifter of them all and the youngest next to Steven. She is loud and funny and makes a joke out of almost anything. She also shape shifts both genders and species. She shows that what matters is your personality because no matter what shape she takes you ALWAYS know it’s Amethyst because of what she SAYS.
Now for the main character, Steven. The little boy who is part of his mother and also something else completely different. He isn’t a “typical” boy. He is kind and caring and he sings whenever he’s emotionally moved to, he doesn’t care if he’s wearing a dress or pants, and his best friend is a girl. Because Steven is also half Gem he can also fuse, and he does so with Connie. They become Stevonnie and at one point someone asks Stevonnie “what” they are (which poignantly is a question a lot of trans and gender non-conforming people get) and Stevonnie responds
“We are an experience”.
AHHHHH. I can’t tell you how much I love this show. This show is ultimately about freedom.
It’s about freedom from oppression (the home world), the freedom OF expression (gem fusions), the freedom to be who you want to be (the gem personalities and Stevonnie), and the freedom to love who you want regardless of gender or orientation. It is radical and beautiful and wonderful, and I think every queer person who needs a little love and light in their lives should watch it. I also think straight people should watch this to see what we mean when we talk about queer love. The show doesn’t focus on gender boundaries because it just doesn’t SEE gender boundaries and that is what is so fantastically radical about it.