CBBC have proudly flown the rainbow flag with another groundbreaking LGBTQ+ scene.
On the latest episode of Mystic, a New Zealand-based series that follows the adventures of a girl and her “enigmatic stallion” of the same name, Joshua Tam’s character Caleb Burford opens up about his sexuality.
During the episode, lead character Issie Brown (Macey Chipping) attempts to locate her horse on a remote island, where she finds out the surprising truth behind her recurring visions. She takes Caleb, and after they get stuck on aforementioned island, he comes out as gay.
“I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, about trusting us and feeling like an outsider and stuff. I do feel like that sometimes,” Caleb tells Issie, before admitting: “I’m weird too. I’m gay I think. No, I know I am.”
Issie responds: “Thank you for telling me. It must have been really hard. I know this is a big deal… like huge. But honestly Caleb, no-one will even care. Being gay is… it’s like one little piece of who you are – a good piece.”
The heartfelt scene aired just days after Canadian mockumentary, The Next Step – also on CBBC – received over 100 complaints for airing a same-sex kiss between dancers Cleo (Dani Verayo) and Jude (Molly Sanders).
In a statement, the BBC dismissed accusations that the kiss was inappropriate, saying: “The decision to include this moment, as part of a longer storyline throughout series seven which has been tracking the development of a romantic relationship between two of the characters, Jude and Cleo, was taken very carefully and with much consideration, and came about after CBBC and Boatrocker (the production company who make the show) acknowledged that the series could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people.
“This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be. We believe that the storyline, and the kiss, was handled with sensitivity and without sensationalism, following as it did the portrayal of Jude and Cleo’s developing relationship and I’m afraid we do not agree that it was inappropriate for the audience age.”
They added: “CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like. At Children’s BBC, we are proud to reflect all areas of children’s lives across our factual and fictional output.
“Same-sex relationships have already featured in other CBBC shows such as Jamie Johnson, 4 O Clock Club, Dixie and Marrying Mum and Dad, and the first same-sex kiss on CBBC was in fact in Byker Grove, many years ago. This moment in The Next Step is merely one story among a myriad of voices and experiences across our output.”
Mystic and The Next Step are both available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.