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‘Elemental’ Features Disney’s First Nonbinary Character, a Lake Who Wears Earrings

Feb 26, 2024

By Abby Monteil

Disney has a habit of boasting about LGBTQ+ inclusion onscreen, only for its canonically queer characters to show up for a hot second or barely mention their identity at all. Who could forget the cyclops cop in Onward who dropped a quick shoutout to her girlfriend? Or what about “Grieving Man,” the iconic Avengers: Endgame’s character who offhandedly mentioned going on gay date in Marvel’s big “exclusively gay moment”?

Well, this Pride month, another queer Disney character is making headlines, albeit for heralding an actual milestone. Elemental features Pixar’s first-ever nonbinary character, voiced by nonbinary actor Ava Kai Hauser.

The movie, released in theaters June 16, takes place in a world where the four elements are embodied as living beings, borrowing from the tradition of Inside Out and Zootopia in creating anthropomorphized characters to tell a story that’s obliquely about social issues.

While the main plot centers on the girl-meets-boy star-crossed connection between the fiery Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis) and watery Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), Hauser voices Wade’s younger sibling, a fellow water element named Lake Ripple. A side character among the extended Ripple extended family, Lake uses they/them pronouns and is often accompanied by a partner they met in art school (where else?).

All cynicism aside, it’s always nice to see queer and trans actors getting their flowers. Hauser shared their casting on Twitter, writing, “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake! I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I’m seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them.”

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What the Mouse House couldn’t have known that the film would premiere mere days after Max comedy The Other Two released an episode satirizing the studio’s struggle to commit to nuanced LGBTQ+ representation. In the show, aspiring actor Cary Dubek (played by Drew Tarver) gets his big break voicing Disney’s “first unapologetically gay character,” a literal lump of goo named Globby.

Unsurprisingly, when the news of Elemental’s inclusion of nonbinary water broke, Twitter didn’t hesitate to compare the two.

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Abby Monteil

Jennifer Culp

James Factora

Samantha Riedel

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Truly, Globby walked so Lake Ripple could run!

Elemental is in theaters now.

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