Last season, my family discovered the Disney Channel show Andi Mack and we were instantly hooked. This series for tweens and young teens pulled us in with its smart writing, well-developed characters, and diverse cast. But after the recent Season 2 premiere, I love this trailblazing show even more.

Because Andi Mack introduced the network’s first openly gay character, and and handled it beautifully. Even if I ended up ugly crying while watching it with my family.

Related: 6 fantastic children’s books celebrating LGBT families, because #LoveisLove

There were some clues in the first season that Andi’s best friend, the quirky, lovable Cyrus (played brilliantly by Joshua Rush) might be gay; but as with the viewers, Cyrus wasn’t sure himself and was definitely struggling with his identity.

The writers handle the scene just beautifully. He never uses the word “gay” when he admits to Buffy that he has a crush on his close friend Jonah ,but then, he doesn’t have to. Because the writers handle the scene just beautifully.

“Buffy, I feel weird…different, he explains.

“Cyrus, you’ve always been weird. But,” Buffy adds, “you’re no different.”

Perfect.

Disney Channel Andi Mack first gay character

With that simple exchange, the Disney Channel showed thousands of LGBTQ youth that they matter, that they are not alone, and, most importantly, that being “weird’ has nothing to do with your sexuality. This is so important, especially considering the stats on LGBT bullying in schools and the fact that 92% of LGBT youth hear negative messages about them in school and in the media.

What’s more, the show will be reaching so many cisgender and hetero youth — and their parents —  which can have a huge impact in creating more empathy, understanding and kindness in the world.

Now I’ve admittedly had some beef with Disney Channel shows in the past (Hey Jessie, I’m calling you out for awful racial stereotyping ), but Andi Mack sets itself apart.

The fact that the network went ahead with this important storyline, despite knowing they’d face some vocal backlash from conservative parent groups (and yeah, they have) warrants a big shoutout from me here, to thank them for what they’re doing for kids.

And Disney Channel: If you continue to forge ahead in this direction with all your shows, representing all kinds of diverse characters in a thoughtful way, I promise you’ll have a lot more fans for life.

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