A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Penumbra (DuckTales 2017)
I remember the Monday that this episode first aired and I heard this and I first heard Penumbra say that she had no desire to an earth male. I had an idea of what this meant but it wasn’t until I saw Sam King on Twitter confirm that this meant that Penumbra is indeed a lesbian.
After a fan on Twitter asked if the line meant Penumbra is queer, the episode’s writer and director Sam King confirmed it. “Hey yeah! For clarity, I had certain constraints I had to work in to get this across, so believe me I’m the first to say I wish it was more overt,” she said. “But yes, Penny calls everything on Earth “Earth -” her saying “Earth… male” is specifically saying “Men.” She’s a lesbian.
Knowing this information is rather interesting as it falls back into something that we have seen twice so far with lesbian characters, that they are strong almost warrior types I.e. Mulan and Cassandra, however, Penny seems to take it to an extreme. As she is nothing but a warrior and that is the only way she knows how to live. Penburma is struggling to find her place on earth. Which in many ways feels allegorical to how queer people constantly struggle to identify where they belong in the world. On the surface, one might think that everyone feels that way and there is a truth to that, yes but the difference when looking at how queer youth are struggling, it feels like a sense of added pressure.
However, that is where something else comes into play, Penumbra actually does have a rather strong support system but she is in warrior mode that she has kept her wall up. This is interesting as it seems to show another as it falls back on another trope I’ve noticed gay characters making themselves distant as a form of protection. I mean, we can look at characters such as Gibbous to see that Penny does have others that care about her but she has to let them in at her pace.
Which brings me to the other important point, how Launchpad reacts when Penumbra says she doesn’t wish to date an earth male. He takes it in stride, he doesn’t get mad at her or anything. He is understanding and totally cool with it. I wish more people would react this way when someone came out. As GQ points out, this is one of the best ways to react and this is akin to how Launchpad acted.
“I’m really glad you told me” is a lovely thing to hear. You’re telling them how you feel about it without making it all about you, and you’re acknowledging their courage in speaking up. “It’s going to be all right. You’ve no need to worry. I’m here for you whatever.” They may sound like corny clichés, but hearing these said sincerely can change someone’s life in the blink of an eye. Not all heroes wear capes, remember.
As the article points out, there are more straight people than there of us but it still means a lot when we come out and we’d rather have someone understand instead of just brushing it off. This also speaks to something great about Penumbra when she says that line, she is rather direct and it shows how confident she is in who she is. That is important for young LGBTQ+ youth to see as see brave and confident woman say that tells them that it is okay to feel how they feel and that they aren’t wrong for having those feelings.
DuckTales (2017) has always shown itself to be inclusive as we saw that Violet and Lena have two dads in the season three premiere but this episode and that line just took it one step further.
That scene was a good start but this line was even better. Honestly, the more I look at it and think about it, this depiction was handled quite well. Join me next time as we look at one of the biggest characters that the LGBTQ community has glommed onto and it’s not hard to see why as we look at…
2 thoughts on “A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Penumbra (DuckTales 2017)”
Penumbra really is an awesome character, and I’m glad Launchpad and the others were accepting of her being gay. Just wish she actually got in on the action during the finale.
Launchpad’s reaction is so awesome and I hope we see more examples of that in the future. Agreed, it would’ve been nice to see Penny get in on the action in the future.