I know it sounds cliche, but a picture really is worth a thousand words. The image I’ll be discussing is this gif of two cartoon characters from the children’s television show, Steven Universe, which is a show that airs semi-regularly on Cartoon Network. Steven Universe is about a young boy who is half-”gem”; an alien species from another planet. The show follows the young boy, Steven, and his adventures with his friends, and a group of aliens called the “Crystal Gems”. In this image are the characters Ruby and Sapphire, two gems who are romantically dancing in the forest, resulting in “fusion”; a magical capability of the aliens in this series. Although some may question the significance of this image, I would argue that this moment changed the world of children’s animated cinema as we know it.

To give some context, I’ll elaborate on the show’s interpretation of “fusion”. It is repeatedly expressed in the series to be a relationship between two gems. There are many other fusions in the show, but this particular fusion was very special. Ruby and Sapphire’s fusion make up the character Garnet, one of the main characters of the show. Garnet is always “fused”, meaning that Ruby and Sapphire are always together. Now, here’s the exciting part… Both of these gems and all of the gems on the show are women. In this series, Garnet explains that on “Homeworld”, where all gems originate, fusion between gems of different colors or types is strictly forbidden. When the two gems formed a bond and found romance, they fled to Earth, where they could be together freely and fused indefinitely.

This moment was an extraordinary leap for the LGBT community. Not only did it provide representation for LGBT viewers all over the world, but it also covertly allowed questioning and LGBT children examples of characters that reflected their own unexplored feelings.  Ruby and Sapphire continue to “guest-star” on the show, and their romance is becoming less and less hidden as the show progresses. Other tremendous leaps and bounds have been accomplished by the “Crewniverse”, the crew that writes and produce the show. Some of these leaps include introducing a non-binary character on the show, addressing difficult emotions and emotional management, a diverse cast, and a character voiced by Season 5 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jinkx. The creator, Rebecca Sugar recently adapted the episode into the best-selling children’s book entitled “The Answer”, which is being distributed all over the world. Steven Universe is a prime example of how just one small story, one image can mean an enormous difference.