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The iconic “Chucky” franchise is more than an influential horror property; it’s also important in terms of progressive LGBTQ+ representation.

Thinking of LGBTQ+ horror, Chucky (aka Child’s Play) is the first horror franchise that comes to mind.

While I haven’t written much on LGBTQ+ themes, it’s worth noting that I identify as the “B” in LGBTQ+. But I grew up during a time when that acronym didn’t exist in the public vernacular, and issues about sexuality and gender identity were only discussed in hushed tones accompanied by slurs and derisive comments.

Growing up during the 80s, if issues relating to gay, bisexual, or transgender people were discussed at all, it was usually accompanied by homophobic comments. Not only did the term LGBTQ+ not exist, but neither did inclusive terms like transgender, nonbinary, pansexual, or asexual.

I love that I can explore these issues now as they relate to my own journey. However, the absence of this growing up affected me in an adverse way.

This is why I wanted to write about the Chucky franchise.

The creator of this iconic franchise, Don Mancini, is a gay man who has made enormous strides in exploring LGBTQ+ themes in his films.

Don Mancini via @RealDonMancini on Twitter

Mancini incorporates characters across the LGBTQ+ spectrum into his films and TV series.

I absolutely love the direction the Chucky franchise has taken — especially when it comes to the TV series, Chucky, which aired its first season on Syfy and USA last year and will be returning for Season 2 later this year.

The titular Chucky first entered horror history in 1988 with Child’s Play and quickly took his place among super-slashers Michael, Jason, and Freddy. However, with 1998’s Bride of Chucky, the franchise started to adopt a new attitude. Sure, it became more comedy than horror. However, this also marked another turning point in the franchise: more and more LGBTQ+ themes and representation.

Syfy quoted Chucky creator Don Mancini, saying that horror is “a genre about outsiders; the beauty of being an outsider.”

Many writers have pointed out that this makes horror the perfect genre for exploring LGBTQ+ themes.

Mancini told Looper in 2021, that, at first, his goal wasn’t to have an impact on LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood. However, Mancini realized that he could incorporate his experiences. He said:

“The first three movies didn’t have any explicit LGBTQ+ content. Although in retrospect, I look at those movies and I do think that maybe, a little sub-textually, in that you’ve got a little boy who really wants to have this male doll as a best friend. I didn’t think about that particularly when I was writing it, but then you get older and look at it and go, ‘Oh, I wonder if there’s something going on there?'”

Bride of Chucky (1998)

It all started with a gay best friend. He didn’t even survive the movie, but it was a start.

In Bride of Chucky, we meet Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), Chucky’s (Brad Dourif) longtime girlfriend. Tiffany manages to resurrect Chucky believing that he intended to marry her. However, when she finds out differently, she turns on him and locks him in a crib with a little bride doll to keep him company. However, Chucky kills Tiffany and transfers her spirit to the bride doll.

Chucky’s next plan is to get to Hackensack, N.J. to dig up his grave and get the Heart of Damballa — an amulet that will allow him and Tiffany to take over human hosts. The two find the perfect potential hosts in Tiffany’s neighbor Jesse (Nick Stabile) and his girlfriend Jade (Katherine Heigl).

The doomed gay character is Jade and Jesse’s best friend, David (Gordon Michael Woolvett), who’s always there to help the couple out. He even poses as Jade’s boyfriend to fool her strict police chief uncle, Warren Kincaid (John Ritter), who doesn’t approve of Jesse.

Mancini pointed out that there was a method to his madness regarding the cast.

Tilly is an LGBTQ+ icon with her role in the landmark LGBTQ+ film,1996’s Bound. He said that John Ritter has ties to the LGBTQ+ community with his role in the 80s sitcom, Three’s Company. We can’t forget, Bride includes a cameo by the late Alexis Arquette, who was a trans actress and activist.

Mancini told Looper:

“With ‘Bride of Chucky,’ the specific story that I was writing, it was about love. It was about romance, it was a parody of romantic comedies. So, in creating the characters that were going to inhabit the story, the main characters other than Chucky and Tiffany are these teenagers played by Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile. Well, in order to make it more interesting, I thought, ‘What if their inevitable friend character — make him gay?’ It just wasn’t done at that time.”

Seed of Chucky (2004)

In Seed of Chucky, we meet Chucky and Tiffany’s nonbinary genderfluid child, Glenn/Glenda (Billy Boyd). Glenn/Glenda is part of a ventriloquist act with an abusive man called “Psychs” (Keith-Lee Castle). Glenn/Glenda sees the Chucky and Tiffany dolls on TV during a preview of Jennifer Tilly’s (who plays herself) new movie. They realize that Chucky and Tiffany are their parents. Glenn/Glenda manages to resurrect Chucky and Tiffany and, of course, mayhem and murder ensue.

One of the most memorable scenes from Seed of Chucky is when Chucky and Tiffany argue over whether or not their child is a boy or a girl.

Chucky wants them to be a boy, and Tiffany wants them to be a girl. They explain that sometimes they feel like a girl and sometimes they feel like a boy. They ask, “Can I be both?” This scene sums up what it’s like when society tries to put someone in a box and attach a neat, socially-approved label to them.

In a 2004 interview with New York Magazine, Mancini said that studios expected “Son of Chucky, another killer doll.”

He elaborates:

“I thought it’s much more interesting if the child is completely sweet and innocent and wants nothing to do with that activity. The bottom line is,