The Director Of "High School Musical" Explained Why Ryan Wasn't Openly Gay And Said He Would "Come Out In College"
"I was concerned because it was family and kids that Disney might not be ready to cross that line."
While it was never specified in the movies, in recent years many fans have created headcanons concerning Ryan's sexual orientation.
A lot of them see both Ryan and Kelsi — who went to prom together and had a subtle romantic storyline in High School Musical 3 — as gay.
And others theorise that Ryan had a crush on Chad based on the High School Musical 2 song "I Don't Dance".
But now Ortega has confirmed Ryan would probably have come out as gay "in college", adding that his character in the movies was "less about coming out and just more about letting his true colours come forward".
He went on to say that while Disney is "the most progressive group of people" he's ever worked with, he had concerns that they "weren't ready" to have an openly gay character in a Disney Channel movie in 2006.
In an interview with TV Line in December last year, Lucas Grabeel — who played Ryan in the movies — opened up about the character's sexuality, and said he played the role based on conversations about Ortega's own high school experience.
"Ryan was a guy who was really excited about theater and art and dance choreography and bright colours and hats," Grabeel said at the time. "But he also liked Kelsey, and he really liked [Zeke]."
He continued to say that he wanted the character to be seen as complex and nuanced rather than "a giant statement".
I actually wanted to be kind of subtle. I wanted to add nuance and little things that you might catch the second or third time you see the movies. I wanted people to think, "That character's more complex than I thought," instead of saying, "Oh, he comes out in pink and you know he's gay." That's not what we had in mind.