The Pixar SparkShorts project Out made Disney history, using a dog to do so.
The Pixar SparkShorts program is designed to find the next generation of storytellers, directors and animators within the company, and it’s already led to an Oscar nomination for Kitbull. So Out follows that format of well-crafted storytelling on a tight deadline with a relatively small budget.
It also tells a very personal, human conflict, solved in part by a Jack Russell Terrier named Jim. And also due to magic, because it’s the world of cartoons and so that’s allowed.
Based on personal experiences (a requirement of Pixar SparkShorts projects), this story is told through just nine minutes onscreen.
Jim’s owner Greg is moving to a distant city with his boyfriend Manuel, and tries to figure out how to explain coming out to his parents.
Thanks to a Freaky Friday-style body swap thanks to a magical dog and cat pair, Greg and Jim switch bodies, which allows his mom to reveal (by talking to Greg in the dog’s body) that she already knows that he’s gay, and while she may not love the idea, she’s able to live with it.
Meanwhile, Jim in Greg’s body causes mayhem entirely believable if a real dog was in that situation (sorry Dog Twitter friends).
Greg is the first Disney film character to be openly gay, though likely not the first LGBT character in a Disney film project – Beauty and the Beast’s LeFou (both versions), music and drama teacher Mr Escobar in Lizzie McGuire, and Ryan Evans and Chad Danforth from the High School Musical trilogy are all implied to be gay, while Frozen‘s Elsa is implied to be an ace lesbian.
Out dropped on May 22, just in time for the Pride Month festivities throughout June for those who celebrate. Given its groundbreaking status, it seems likely it will be nominated for Best Animated Short for the 2021 Academy Awards.
Out, and all other Pixar SparkShorts, are available on Disney Plus. For more on pop culture when it comes to these issues, see our FanSided Network sister site Culturess for the latest news, analysis and opinions.