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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."

In a new interview with Variety, director Kenny Ortega opened up about his experience making the High School Musical series and said he thought the character of Ryan would have come out as gay later in life.

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While it was never specified in the movies, in recent years many fans have created headcanons concerning Ryan's sexual orientation.

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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.

Im watching hsm and. Both Ryan and Kelsie are gay and they were each other's beards for senior year. Also sharpay had a crush on Gabriella

can you believe in hsm they tried to pass off kelsi, a literal lesbian, as a heterosexual who was dating ryan, a literal gay. a crime against the lgbt’s

And others theorise that Ryan had a crush on Chad based on the High School Musical 2 song "I Don't Dance".

Ryan from High School Musical has officially been confirmed as gay and honestly we been knew. Here is the gayest HSM song from the whole three movies

hsm 3: oh ryan is straight :) everyone who grew up with hsm, 10 years later, as adults: He Is Gay. I Dont Dance Is Gay. It Bops Because Its Not A Typical Ballad Like Other HSM Songs Between Troy And Gabriella But Is About Flirtation Through Rivalry And Competition

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".

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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.

Disney Channel

"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," Ortega said.

He went on: "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 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.

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"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]."

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"He didn’t need a label, because he wasn’t ready for that," he went on. "He was still learning about himself and about people and where he fit into the world."

He continued to say that he wanted the character to be seen as complex and nuanced rather than "a giant statement".

Walt Disney Studios

He said:

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.

You can read Kenny Ortega's full interview with Variety here.

Ellie Bate is a celebrity reporter and talent coordinator at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Ellie Bate at

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