SDCC ’16: Rebecca Sugar on LGBTQ themes in Steven Universe and what’s to come

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stevenuniverse

By Daniel Lodge

Steven Universe is often described as groundbreaking, as it’s one of few children’s cartoons to feature allusions to a same sex romance. In Friday’s SDCC panel and press interviews, series creator Rebecca Sugar elaborated on her personal connection to the show’s LGBTQ themes.

“In large part it’s based on my experience as a bisexual woman,” Sugar said. “It’s very important to me that we speak to kids about consent. That we speak to kids about identity. There’s so much more I have to say about this. I want to feel like I exist, and I want everyone else who wants to feel that way to feel that way too.”

In the Emmy-nominated episode titled “The Answer,” two of the Crystal Gems, Ruby and Sapphire, “fuse” into one gem, Garnet, for the first time. Though gems are technically described as genderless, the two characters are voiced by women, and the episode features clear parallels to the experience of coming out. When Ruby and Sapphire fuse, they are met with disgust and outrage by other gems, serving as a clear allusion to homophobia.

Getting the opportunity to sit down with creator Rebecca Sugar, I had to ask: “What was coming out like for Ruby and Sapphire?” Sugar said the relationship would be further explored and elaborated on in The Answer, a book set to release this fall.

“When I got to flesh the story out in the book, I got to describe a little more the way that the two of them came to understand each other better and what was happening, not just to them, just to one looking at the other, but also their whole point of view changing by sharing this experience with someone,” she said. “Not just their point of view on the other person, but also of themselves and of the world that they’re in – everything, everything changes.”

Supervising director Ian Jones-Quartey, who also attended the convention, said there is a set ending in mind for Sugar’s story.

“One thing I will tell you about the show that a lot of people don’t know: There is a discreet timeline from the beginning of the story to the end of the story,” he said. “There’s a timeline for all the things that happened before the story, and there’s a timeline that are all the things that happened after the story. Those are all sort of written down, you know? So there’s definitely an ending… Rebecca’s going to have her chance to tell the story the way she intends it to be told.”

As for what to expect next season, the cast indicated excitement over several upcoming guest appearances. Deedee Magno Hall, the voice of Pearl, touched upon getting to work with theater legend Patti LuPone, who voices the villain Yellow Diamond, dropping that LuPone would be performing a song in an upcoming episode.

“I got to sing background vocals for Patti LuPone’s song for Yellow Diamond, and I was really, really hoping we could have sang that together in the studio – that would have been epic for me,” she said.

Jones also said fans could expect Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba to appear in a yet-to-be-disclosed role.

“What she brought to the world was just amazing,” he said. “You’ll just have to wait!”

Steven Universe’s third season is currently airing on Cartoon Network.

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Comments

  1. Brian says

    Well no. When sapphire and Ruby fused for the first time the other gems were disgusted becuse there were 2 types of diffrent gems. Giving the illusion that it’s would be more of a race thing than a sex thing. Even though gems don’t have race they are all one species but there are diffrent types of gems

  2. Daniel says

    That’s a very interesting point. I took it as a commentary on homophobia but I can understand seeing the perspective of race as well.

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