Inside Out: The new gay anthem?

The new Pixar movie Inside Out is charming audiences across the country, raking in millions of dollars as fans rush to see it.

Coincidentally, the Supreme Court recently ruled that gay marriage was legal across the country.

While I would not go so far as to claim Pixar manipulated the timing of these events, it has been quite fortuitous for them.

Inside Out, you see, may be the first major animated film to have its main character be gay.

The signs are everywhere. To start with, the main conceit of the movie is that everyone is run by a rainbow coalition of emotions, suggesting that everyone has some gay in them.

Here they are, even arranged in the order of the colors of the rainbow.

Here are the main character’s emotions, even arranged in the order of the colors of the rainbow.

But that’s not even the first indication of the gay theme that will run throughout the film. The name itself is our first clue. Inside Out is also a non-profit organization, which “exists to challenge attitudes and change lives through the promotion, production and exhibition of film and video made by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people of all ages, races and abilities.”

This movie isn’t about homosexuality in general, though: it’s about the main character, 11-year-old Riley, struggling with her burgeoning proclivities. This is never made explicit in the film, but the signs are everywhere.

There’s the stereotypical example, presumably because the writers wanted to make it obvious, where Riley plays hockey. But it goes well beyond that tired trope.

Take a look again at Riley’s emotions up there. Now let’s take a look at her parent’s emotional core, shown a few times throughout the film.

Here are the mom's emotions.

Here are the mom’s emotions.

Here are the dad's emotions.

Here are the dad’s emotions.

Notice the difference? Both the mom and the dad have emotions that mostly resemble them. The hair and clothing matches the person, because the genders do too. All five match the person in whose head they reside.

Riley’s emotions have three girls and two boys.

The parents’ emotions also show the hardship Riley has to go through because of her orientation. The mother’s central emotion is sadness; the father’s is anger. Being small-town Minnesotans, they were not prepared for their daughter to turn out this way, and surely she has felt it.

Hockey is literally all they understand.

Hockey is literally all they understand.

Her parents are good people though. After realizing what their daughter is going through, they try to make things better for her, leaving their life behind to move to San Francisco (dropping a heavy hint).

The movie claims it’s because the dad is starting a new business there, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. While he has meetings with investors planned, he has no investors yet for this new business. He’s clearly just trying to get something started out there to support the move.

“Hang on,” you may be saying. “Riley’s imagination clearly shows a boyfriend she has imagined for herself.”


And it’s true. She does. But taking a closer look at him shows that only supports the gay theme.

This imaginary boyfriend says only two things in the entire movie: “I would DIE for Riley!” as illustrated above, which he says over and over, and “I’m from Canada.” The first statement is just a generic desire someone would dream up for a potential suitor. And as everyone knows, having a boyfriend in Canada is frequently used to explain why no one has met him, and to say that the girl really does have a boyfriend. It’s just a cover. Riley is using this to throw off any suspicion of her interest in girls.

When Riley has her first day at her new school, she is interested only in the group of cool girls that she sees, and her emotions immediately start coming up with a plan on how to insinuate herself into that group. She only has eyes for them.

Wait, I didn't call up this photo...

Wait, I didn’t call up this photo…

And let’s remember when Riley is chatting with her friend who’s still back in Minnesota. They’re having  a very pleasant conversation until her friend mentions a new girl on the hockey team and starts singing her praises. Riley gets very jealous and hangs up on her.

Then there is the boy at the end of the movie, taking place a year after the start of the movie when Riley is 12.


The boy is very much interested in Riley, which we know because we see inside his head where his emotions are going haywire. Riley has at this point found happiness and acceptance, so you would expect them to have a bit of a meet-cute, suggesting something could happen between them. Or that she would at least be as embarrassed and shy as he is.

Instead, she doesn’t care. She just blows right past him to go do what she was going to. She has no interest in him whatsoever.

The movie never says outright that Riley is gay, but it doesn’t have to. And not saying it makes it more subversive, showing anyone could be gay without flamboyant outward signs, claiming that everyone has some gay in them. All of this in a children’s movie.

They really are trying to turn this country inside out.

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