Steven Universe is, without a doubt, one of the most groundbreaking television shows airing right now because of its strong messages about queer positivity, inclusion, and the power of love. As much of an impact as the show has had on its fanbase, it also helped creator Rebecca Sugar become more comfortable with her own identity.
In a recent interview with NPR’s 1A, Sugar opened up about how the process of creating Steven Universe ultimately played a large role in her deciding to come out as a nonbinary woman. That part of her identity, Sugar explained, informed a lot of the way that the show approaches the Gems’ gender:
“One of the things that’s really important to me about the show is that the Gems are all non-binary women. They’re very specific and they’re coming from a world where they don’t really have the frame of reference. They’re coded female which is very important. I was really excited because I felt like I had not seen this. To make a show about a young boy who was looking up to these female-coded characters—they appear to be female, but they’re a little more representative of nonbinary women.
They wouldn’t think of themselves as women, but they’re fine with being interpreted that way amongst humans. And I am also a non-binary woman which is been really great to express myself through these characters because it’s very much how I have felt throughout my life.”
What’s so fabulous about Steven Universe’s approach to gender with characters like Stevonnie, who’s a fusion composed of a teenaged boy and girl, is that it puts the emphasis on humanizing its characters through actions rather than overwrought explanations. Given how often the argument is made that queer subject matter is too “complicated” for younger audiences to understand, it’s incredibly important and impressive how easily Steven Universe disproves that idea.