High School Musical: The Musical: The Series made history in its July 16 episode, ‘The Transformation’ when it featured its first ever gay ballad called ‘In A Heartbeat’.
The gay love song on the Disney+ show is sung by Carlos played by Frankie A. Rodriguez to boyfriend Seb played by Joe Serafini after the couple have their first fight. In June 2021, the actors revealed they were also dating in real life.
Frankie was the first openly gay character on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series since its 2019 premiere. The song marks a milestone for Disney. The song is catalysed by Seb wondering if Carlos loves him for himself or because he is the only other LBGTQ+ boy at school. In the song, Seb assures him he loves Carlos for him.
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The original song is written by Los Angeles-based musician Will Jay, who credited Rodriquez for bringing it to life.
been so excited to share this for months but I co-wrote “In a Heartbeat” for #HSMTMTS and it comes out tonight!! @MrFrankieAR you completely brought this to life and @joshuatbassett killed the background vocals 🤟 https://t.co/MMuMFaYssR
— Will Jay (@willjaymusic) July 15, 2021
Series creator and showrunner Tim Federle, told Huffington Post that he chose to avoid bullying or coming out storylines in the series, making the LGBTQI+ experience part of daily life, and not a plot-twist.
Praise For The Song
Audience reactions have been positive, praising the normalisation of LGBTQI+ teenagers. Many users wished they had this representation when they were growing up.
if i had seen in a heartbeat as a kid,, i think my coming out would be more normalized and i'm so glad kids are gonna get to see this and see themselves in characters.
— mo 🐄 hsmtmts spoilers (@goodeplace) July 16, 2021
There were others who pointed out to the issue of Disney not saying the word “gay”.
The writers of HSMTMTS went so far out of their way to avoid using the word “gay” they literally said “boy who watches Drag Race Canada” instead
— Eric (@twiteric_) July 19, 2021
Backlash for the show has been swift. Washington State Family Policy Institute, a Christian group posted: “The pagan woke mob is continuing to shove the radical LGBT agenda down our children’s throats at every opportunity.”