The Disney Channel Original Movie to Bisexual Pipeline
Happy pride month everyone!
In this week’s newsletter, I would like to take the time to discuss the impact of Disney Channel Original Movies from the very early 2000’s on myself and my bisexual journey. Of course, I am not the only one to have something within me unlock as I watched these made-for-television kid’s movies—there are dozens of threads about the DCOM to bisexual pipeline, and this is my contribution.
To start, I must mention that I can trace my sexual awakening back to the DCOM Smart House, where I was in love with a very sad, weepy Ryan Merriman who had to deal with the fact that his house wanted to fuck his dad. Sure, Ryan Merriman is very much a straight guy so this sexual awakening of mine isn’t super revolutionary but it did set the precedent of me being very into baby-faced emo guys and also piqued my interest in other Disney Channel Original Movies, some of which are significantly more gay. While a lot of them are important to my development as a person, today we are going to discuss two of the most bisexual (to me) movies out there.
As a movie, Motocrossed is one of the best DCOMs out there. I haven’t watched it in probably close to two decades, but from what I can remember about it, it was a great movie. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s about two siblings, Andrea and Andrew Carson, who love to ride dirt bikes and do cool tricks. Their dad doesn’t think Andrea should like motocross, though, because she is a girl and girls shouldn’t do extreme sports. After her brother gets injured in a biking accident and thus can’t ride competitively, Andrea cuts her hair off and pretends to be Andrew. All at the same time, she starts to fall with one of her competitors.
For many reasons, this movie is sexually confusing, especially to a very young me. Obviously, the romantic love interest Dean is very cute but Andrea is also very cute. She really becomes very alluring (hot) when she cuts all of her hair off and starts doing sports more intensely. I was obsessed with this movie and I wanted to do extreme motorbike sports for a hot second. This did not work because I am not a sporty person. But I do love movies about hot people doing sports.
(There was also a character who was a man named Rene and he wasn’t hot. I was really upset as a kid that a guy had the same name as me who was also very ugly.)
2001 really was a great year for young bisexuals, as both Motocrossed and Cadet Kelly came out only a few months apart from each other. This is also one of the top tier DCOMs, truly standing the test of time. In short, Kelly (played by Hilary Duff) is an artsy city kid who now has to go to military school because her new stepdad is the principal of it. She does not do a good job at military stuff and has a hard time fitting in. Her captain, Jennifer Stone (Christy Carlton Romano) hates her and makes her life miserable. Kelly learns the ways of military school and finally joins the drill team, where she and Captain Stone have to save their team in the competition by doing a very cool rifle routine.
There is a conventionally attractive guy in the movie, who was a small source of conflict between the two female main characters for a while, but he is ultimately irrelevant. The amount of sexual tension that Christy Carlton Romano brought to the table is actually quite overwhelming. I had done a re-watch with my friend Suzy for our podcast a couple of years ago and I really forgot how much sexual tension there was between them. Once again, I was obsessed with this movie for some reason (who can guess why?). I also wanted to join the drill team because I thought it was cool. I ended up being in marching band later on in life, which I guess is close enough.
It’s both funny and also quite sad that the first official unofficial DCOM with two female romantic leads was also a straight-up military propaganda movie. The premise is not great, but we love seeing women doing athletic things.
While these two are the most outwardly influential Disney Channel movies for my bisexual awakening, there are many other intellectual properties that helped me along the way. For instance, I was obsessed with Zenon: Girl of the Twenty-First Century in an unhealthy kind of way. We also have to praise our queer icons Ryan and Kelsi (and Chad) from High School Musical, who were both very gay but weren’t allowed to be at the time. Without these movies, I probably would’ve figured out I was bisexual at some point anyways—but these movies do hold a special place in my heart as movies that made me look back 15 years later and say, “Huh, looking back that was really gay and I liked that. Interesting!”