High School Musical (Movie)
The director was named one of this year’s honorees on Variety’s Power of Pride list, and while speaking to the outlet about the queer aesthetic that runs throughout all of his work, he brought up how he decided that the character of Ryan would have “probably … come out in college.”
“It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward,” Ortega says, noting that he “didn’t think at the time” that he could have had an openly gay character on Disney Channel.
“And Disney is the most progressive group of people I’ve ever worked with,” he adds. “I was concerned because it was family and kids, that Disney might not be ready to cross that line and move into that territory yet. So, I just took it upon myself to make choices that I felt that those who were watching would grab. They would see it, they would feel it, they would know it, and they would identify with it. And that is what happened.”
Grabeel played Ryan, the twin brother of Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale), in all three High School Musical movies and played a version of himself in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. While the character’s sexuality wasn’t confirmed until now, his fashion choices, personality, and actions throughout the trilogy resulted in fans believing he was gay.
“I have to say, thousands of kids have said, ‘If it weren’t for High School Musical, I don’t know that I would have ever been comfortable in my skin. I don’t know when I would have been able to feel comfortable enough to come out, embrace who I am,'” Ortega adds.
Later in the interview, Ortega also revealed that “the fun of Hocus Pocus is — I mean, the girls are almost drag queens.”