Erika Scheimer and the Queer Appeal of She-Ra

Erika Scheimer and the Queer Appeal of She-Ra
Jase Peeples

Filmation is an animation studio that holds a special place in the hearts of many children who grew up during the 1970s and '80s. The popular TV shows produced by the company—like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and She-Ra: Princess of Power—helped define a generation.

Erika Scheimer, however, had a unique connection to this generation. Daughter of Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, she experienced the Filmation phenomenon from the inside, and eventually provided voices for a variety of characters in many of the studio’s cartoons. It was while working on She-Ra—both as the Assistant Recording Director for the show as well as voicing Frosta (below), Queen Angela, Imp, and Loo-Kee the colorful elf who delivered a moral message at the end of each episode— that Erika helped shape one of the biggest animated gay icons of all time. Then in 2007 Erika surprised fans when she revealed she was a lesbian and had been living happily with her partner, Amy, for many years in southern California; the couple is pictured here, with Erika on the left and Amy on the right.

Though Filmation’s legacy is firmly rooted in the realm of family-friendly programming, Scheimer told Gay.net in a recent interview that she wasn’t concerned about the potential backlash that could result from her publically revealing her sexuality. “Growing up my dad always taught me honesty was the best policy. So when it came up, I just thought, ‘Why not? I’m not ashamed of it and neither are my parents,’” she said. “Plus, there were a lot of talented gay people working at Filmation. Even my dad would probably say he was gay in another life. He loves everybody and he’s always kissing on girls and boys alike. So it wasn’t difficult and I was happy to do it.”

Scheimer also had a few theories on why She-Ra has resonated with so many gays and lesbians for more than 25 years. “Women and gay people have to go through a lot and we know what it's like to be labeled and told you can’t be one thing or another. I think She-Ra breaks that mold and she speaks to boys every bit as much as she does girls,” She said. “I think she’s a great feminist, frankly, and she carries on in the tradition of Gloria Steinem. I think that’s appealing to all of us minorities out there.”

While Scheimer says there isn’t anything she would change about her time working on She-Ra, there was one addition she would make if she had the chance. “If we were doing it today and if I had any say in it, we absolutely would introduce a gay character.”

Scheimer also had a few words for anyone who would argue that a family-friendly show like She-Ra shouldn’t include gay characters. “Gays are part of families, too. So what’s the big deal? People need to get over it because it’s time for us to get on with it.”

Read the full Interview “Erika Scheimer and the Legacy of She-Ra” on Gay.net.

The always engaging and prolific Aja Aguirre runs a Fit for a Femme. Her work has also appeared in Autostraddle and Qwear. You should definitely spend your weekend getting lost in the blog’s archives.

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