In a new interview with Variety about the queer aesthetic of his movies, director Kenny Ortega confirmed that one of the characters in his 2006 Disney Channel movie High School Musical was gay — and closeted.
Said Ortega: “The character of Ryan [played by Lucas Grabeel] in ‘High School Musical,’ Sharpay’s twin brother, we decided he’s probably going to come out in college. It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward. I have to be honest with you. I didn’t think at the time — and Disney is the most progressive group of people I’ve ever worked with.”
“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,” Ortega continued. “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.”
Ortega went on to talk about his other films, Hocus Pocus (“the girls are almost drag queens”), Newsies, and an early moment in his career when he was an actor and had drugs planted on him after kissing a police chief while performing Hair.