Raya And The Last Dragon May Contain LGBTQ Characters, But It's Also Making Queer History In Another Way

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Disney is known for its stunning animated blockbusters, and the studio has not shied away from new releases over the past few years. The most recent is

Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada's Raya and the Last Dragon, which arrived both in theaters and on Disney+. The film stars Kelly Marie Tran as the title character, and she recently encouraged theories about Raya's possible romantic connection to Gemma Chan's Namaari. And as that debate rages on, it turns out that Raya already made LGBTQIA history thanks to the casting of actress Patti Harrison.

Patti Harrison doesn't play a major character in Raya and the Last Dragon, appearing as the Chieftess of the Tail Land early in the protagonist's journey. And while conversations continue about whether or not the movie's lead characters are actually queer, Harrison's role makes history as she's the first openly transgender performer to appear in a Disney animated movie.

This news was brought to us by Out, which put a spotlight on Raya and the Last Dragon making history by casting Patti Harrison. The Chieftess of Tail might only appear in one scene, but it's still a historic first for the queer audiences, particularly the transgender community. And as calls for onscreen representation continue, it's great to see these steps forward in a major studio like Disney.

Raya and the Last Dragon is currently available on Disney+ for an additional charge. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Audiences will know Patti Harrison from her scene-stealing role in Hulu's Shrill, as well as roles in A Simple Favor and Search Party. Harrison is also an accomplished writer, most notable in Netflix's adult animated series Big Mouth. And now she's appeared in a Disney animated blockbuster, making history for the studio in the process.

Patti Harrison in Shrill

The talk about Raya and the Last Dragon will only continue as more people watch it, and form their own opinions about the protagonist and her unique relationship with Namaari. Upon the movie's release some fans thought the two characters might have a romantic connection, and eventually Kelly Marie Tran was asked about this while doing press. While she admitted she might get in trouble for saying it, Tran definitely encouraged those theories. We'll just have to see if the House of Mouse ever given an official answer.

Disney has been making some major steps forward regarding inclusion in a variety of their properties, including animated movies and the MCU. Last year the studio released Onward, which featured Lena Waithe as a lesbian character. As for Marvel, Chloe Zhao's Eternals will feature the most diverse cast in the studio's history, including a Black gay superhero, as well as the first hearing impaired hero.

Raya and the Last Dragon is currently available on Disney+ for premiere access, as well as in theaters. In the meantime, check out our 2021 release list to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.