After 17 years of speculation (!), the sexuality of High School Musical character Ryan Evans has finally been confirmed.
Played by Lucas Grabeel, the camp, theatre-obsessed twin brother of gay icon Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) never came out in the original trilogy, although fans and stars of the series have long accepted that he’s the ‘G’ in ‘LGBTQ’.
In the final season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, however, Ryan’s queerness becomes canon. A season four preview shows the original cast return to East High as themselves to film a fourth film in the franchise (it’s all very meta!).
This includes Grabeel, Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth, Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie, Kaycee Stroh as Martha Cox, Alyson Reed as Ms Darbus and Bart Johnson as Coach Bolton.
After Ryan, Chad, Taylor and Martha perform on stage, where Taylor reveals that she’s now the principal of East High School, Ryan approaches his partner (played by Pentatonix star Scott Hoying) and the two share a kiss.
“This means so much to me that you are here,” says Ryan, with Hoying’s character responding: “I love you.”
Additionally, the absence of Tisdale, as well as Zac Efron as Troy Bolton and Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez, is explained during a quick exchange between Coach Bolton and Martha.
“Have you seen Sharpay, Troy or Gabriella?” asks Coach, to which Martha reveals: “Not yet, Coach. They have been silent in the group chat.”
Watch the sneak peak below.
— HSM: The Musical: The Series (@hsmseries) July 25, 2023
Kenny Ortega – director of the entire trilogy – confirmed Ryan’s homosexuality in a 2020 interview with Variety, saying he didn’t come out as gay in the films because the team decided that he would “come out in college”.
“It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward,” he said.
When asked if it would’ve been possible to have Ryan be openly gay, he explained: “I have to be honest with you. I didn’t think at the time — and Disney is the most progressive group of people I’ve ever worked with.
“I was concerned because it was family and kids, that Disney might not be ready to cross that line and move into that territory yet. So, I just took it upon myself to make choices that I felt that those who were watching would grab.
“They would see it, they would feel it, they would know it and they would identify with it. And that is what happened.”
In a 2018 interview with GAY TIMES, Hudgens said she would’ve “loved” for the trilogy to include an openly LGBTQ+ character.
Echoing the comments of Ortega, however, she said “Disney wasn’t ready” for LGBTQ+ representation at the time.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has corrected the LGBTQ+ related mistakes of the original trilogy with openly queer characters such as Seb Matthew-Smith (Joe Serafini), Ashlyn Caswell (Julia Lester) and Maddox (Saylor Bell Curda).
Season four premieres 9 August on Disney Plus.