For the first time, the popular American Girl franchise has released a doll with an LGBT+ storyline, so of course homophobes are trying to stage a boycott.
The iconic dolls were a cultural phenomenon in the ’90s and still command a multi-generational fanbase in the US, with some of the toys selling for thousands online.
Each doll is accompanied by a book telling the character’s story, but the 2021 Girl of the Year, Kira Bailey, is dividing loyal fans – because she has two gay aunts.
In Kira Down Under, the animal-loving 10-year-old goes to Australia to spend the summer at her aunts’ wildlife sanctuary. The book casually mentions that the two women got married “after the law was changed to allow it”.
It’s the first time a same-sex relationship has been mentioned in an American Girl story, and for some, it was a step too far.
“American Girl collectors continue to be the worst people in the world,” said Boston collector Rebecca Nachman as she revealed the debate raging across private fan groups.
“People lost their goddamn minds, there was so much blatant homophobia in the American Girl Facebook groups I’m in, it was horrific. People were saying, ‘children are innocent, they shouldn’t have to read about sex’, as if American Girl is publishing a lesbian porno.”
While many collectors called for a boycott of the beloved brand, others took their anger out on Amazon, where a third of the reviews for the book give only one star.
“Homosexuality is an inappropriate topic for a children’s book and I am very disappointed that it was woven so blatantly into the storyline for Kira,” read one negative review.
“The storyline is inappropriate and far too mature for young readers,” wrote another, and “Parents are not informed of lesbian relationship in the story”.
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It’s not the first time American Girl has been hit with a backlash for supporting the LGBT+ community.
In 2005 several homophobes organised a boycott after learning the brand supported the pro-LGBT+ charity Girls Inc. Yet another boycott was called in 2015, after a girl with two fathers featured in American Girl magazine.
American Girl defended the decision to introduce an LGBT+ storyline, saying it was important that the characters reflected the modern world.
“As a brand, we’ve always strived to share the message that there’s no ‘magic recipe’ for a family and that families can be made up of all kinds of ingredients – and each is unique and lovely.
“We know for girls who can directly relate to Kira’s circumstances (i.e. a father who has passed away or a couple in a same-sex marriage), we’re glad to show them that the make-up of one’s family doesn’t matter – it’s still a family and that’s all the counts. It’s a sentiment we love at American Girl.”
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