Around this time last year, I read an article about a then-upcoming cartoon called The Loud House, about a boy named Lincoln Loud and his ten Loud sisters: Lori, Leni, Luna, Luan, Lynn, Lola, Lana, Lisa, and Lily.
While the animation style inspired by classic cartoon strips and the story involving sibling dynamics were appealing, what really piqued my interest was the announcement that The Loud House would feature Nickelodeon's first same sex couple. The historical moment of LGBTQ representation, in which Lincoln is seen waiting for his friend Clyde McBride and his parents to make an entrance, turning to the audience fourth wall-style and announcing the McBride family with: "Time to make history." From the moment I saw the McBride family, both fathers (who are also an interracial couple) being adorable and over-protective over their son, I was hooked.
Nickelodeon already broke ground in featuring LGBTQ content in children's programming, when Korrasami from The Legend of Korra became canon (still can't get over that!). The inclusion of the McBride family shown as normalized rather than odd, a caring family unit rather than a punchline, was definitely another step in the right direction. But the creators didn't stop there!
In the episode "L is for Love," the Loud kids discover that a love letter had been delivered to their house, addressed only to "L Loud" from a secret admirer. Since all the kids share a first initial and last name, no one knows who the letter is really intended for. Naturally, they all go into a tizzy trying to figure whose crush sent the letter. Each Loud sibling haphazardly courts their crush in full-on love mood—except for Luna. Usually the most boisterous member of the Loud family, rocking out with her guitar as often as possible, in this episode, Luna is quiet and reserved, and self-conscious when it comes to her crush Sam. She wonders if Sam is out of her league. To anyone who's ever had an intense crush, this feeling of vulnerability is all too familiar. The kids eventually discover that the letter had been addressed by their mother to their father as an anniversary celebration of their courtship through love letters (go female romantic agency!). Inspired by their parents' love story, the Loud kids decide to send love letters to all their crushes, including Luna, who bashfully slips a letter into her crush's locker at school. When Luna and her rocker friends walk by that locker, and wave goodbye to its owner Sam, the audience learns that Sam is a cute rocker girl with dyed hair and multiple piercings, who opens the letter and smiles. Luna, quietly standing around the corner, smiles in return.
The show could have followed a different, more heteronormative path with Luna's crush in this episode, with Luna pining after a boy in her group of friends, allowing the audience believe that Sam was a boy. But hell yes that they didn't! The episode officially confirms Luna as bi (or pan), as she was shown in a previous episode "Study Muffin" to have also been attracted to Lincoln's male tutor, Hugh. (Although that fact that she called Lincoln's female teacher "smokin'" should have tipped us off.)
Out of all of the wonderful Loud sisters, Luna is one of my favorites, for her high energy, punk fashion, confidence, and kindness, for her dedication to her passions, both musical and familial. Luna is the type of character I can almost imagine hanging with out in real life, jamming to The Donnas. The fact that she's canonically queer only makes that better.
Despite the number of amazing animated series I grew up with in the 1990s and 2000s, from Teen Titans to Avatar the Last Airbender, I didn’t really see any queer content, even in Sailor Moon, because the English dub erased the lesbian couple Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, labeling them as cousins instead of lovers. I was so embarrassed to had not seen it soon than I did, but hey, I was a kid. And that’s the point: When we're young, media provides many of our first introductions to romance, sexuality, and identity, and since most of the media is cisnormative and heteronormative, our perspective is really limited. Growing up, I had always identified as an ally to the LGBT community, but it wasn't until later in life that I even considered the possibility that I might be a part of that community. And I think that was partly because of the media I grew up with. Thanks to a family friend who helped educate me about tolerance and equality, I didn't think that being queer was inherently wrong. Yet for a long time, I believed that I should accept that it was more normal or more acceptable for me to have crushed on boys, and that I should suppress my feelings for female or non-binary people. I didn't even consider the possibility of not being straight until I was much older, and actively sought out media that had queer characters and themes. So characters like Korra or Luna openly loving both boys and girls means something to me, and I wish that had been broadcast sooner.
With this new episode of The Loud House, just in time for Pride month, a little Sapphic girl (or any other queer kid) might see Luna, a girl having a crush on another girl and think: "That's me!" And that's something for us all to be loud and proud about. Happy Pride, everyone!