Disney has a habit of boasting about LGBTQ+ inclusion onscreen, only for its canonically queer characters to show up for a hot second or barely mention their identity at all. Who could forget the cyclops cop in Onwards who dropped a quick shoutout to her girlfriend? Or what about “Grieving Man,” the iconic Avengers: Endgame‘s character who offhandedly mentioned going on gay date in Marvel’s big “exclusively gay moment”?
Well, this Pride month, another queer Disney character is making headlines, even if it’s heralding an actual milestone. elementals features Pixar’s first-ever nonbinary character, voiced by nonbinary actor Ava Kai Hauser.
The film, released in theaters June 16, takes place in a world where the four elements are embodied as living beings, borrowing from the tradition of Inside Out and Zootopia in creating anthropomorphized characters to tell a story that’s obliquely about social issues.
While the main plot centers on the girl-meets-boy star-crossed connection between the fiery Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis) and the watery Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), Hauser voices Wade’s younger sibling, a fellow water element named Lake Ripple. A side character among the extended Ripple extended family, Lake uses their/them pronouns and is often accompanied by a partner they meet in art school (where else?).
All cynicism aside, it’s always nice to see queer and trans actors getting their flowers. Hauser shared their casting on Twitter, writing, “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake! I voice Lake in the new film #Elemental! I’m seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you want to see them.”