LGBTQ+ fans are rejoicing after Disney+’s High School Musical spin-off series officially confirmed that Ryan Evans is gay.
Coming to Disney+ next month, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series‘ (HSMTMTS) fourth and final season will finally address the big gay elephant in the room.
Since the original Disney Channel High School Musical trilogy (2006-2008) was released, fans have been united in one thought: East High student, Sharpay Evans’ brother, and musical theatre extraordinaire, Ryan (played by Lucas Grabeel) was undeniably gay.
Ryan followed the fate of pretty much every queer-coded character from the ’00s and his sexuality was never explicitly confirmed on screen… until now.
Fifteen years on, Ryan is breaking free by getting the queer redemption arc he deserves.
A sneak peek from the upcoming season teased the highly anticipated High School Musical reunion between Corbin Bleu (who played Chad), Grabeel, Monique Coleman (Taylor) and KayCee Stroh (Martha) on the East High School stage.
While performing an extravagant musical number, Ryan, wearing a purple flat cap and sparkling blazer ensemble, hops off the stage. He approaches a man (played by musician Scott Hoying) in the audience who says: “You look amazing, this is so cool” to which Ryan responds: “This means so much to me that you are here”.
Then, to everyone’s delight, the man tells Ryan he loves him and they kiss on the lips. Since this is only the teaser clip, we just have to hope that we’ll see more of the couple during the new season.
Back in the day, Ryan’s camp fashion sense, complete lack of toxic masculinity and painfully forced crush on shy school pianist Kelsi (Olesya Rulin) had everyone’s gaydar going off. The theory about Ryan’s sexuality was further fuelled in High School Musical 2 when fans noted his amazing chemistry with fellow student Chad on the baseball court after they had a highly charged “I Don’t Dance” showdown.
It’s not clear whether High School Musical‘s main stars Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella), Zac Efron (Troy) and Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay) will reprise their roles, although they were mentioned during the clip as being noticeably absent.
Is Lucas Gabreel gay?
Lucas Grabeel has previously addressed both his and Ryan’s sexuality. (Getty)
Although this is our first on-screen confirmation, it’s not the first time Ryan’s ambiguous sexuality has come up.
“There [are] so many amazingly talented gay actors that could do it as well,” he said. “I would love to, but I just don’t know.
“The last thing that I want to do is take that opportunity away from other people and, as a straight white man, I know that even without trying I have taken opportunities away from people.”
He then recalled a conversation he had with High School Musical ‘s director. According to the actor, Kenny Ortega said that the subject was too “touchy” to confirm in the script.
Grabeel’s comments came after Ortega himself confirmed in an interview with Variety that Ryan was always gay despite not explicitly confirming it in 2006.
“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 those 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.”
How have fans reacted to Ryan Evans finally living his best gay life?
The news has sent High School Musical fans, old and new, on to social media.
“Everyone knew this man was gay since the first High School Musical,” one person wrote, echoing several fans‘ sentiment.
Others, however, have argued that even if it was obvious, the official confirmation is still important.
“Everyone saying ‘we already knew’ should realise back in the day it wasn’t allowed to be made explicit and Disney even went as far as to try to imply he and Kelsi were together in the third movie. This is a big deal and is worth celebrating,” one fan noted.
But mostly, fans are reminiscing and mourning the couple-who-never-were: Chad and Ryan.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series returns to Disney+ on 9 August.