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Welcome to Is That Fruity? a column by Zelda and Sarah where we analyze music and pop culture through a queer lens.

Today, we’ll be taking a trip down gay memory lane to good ol’ High School Musical 2 — specifically, the song “I Don’t Dance.” If you aren’t familiar with the single-most iconic scene in a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), we’ll break it down for you.

Meet Ryan, choreographer extraordinaire and arguably the most queercoded character in the DCOM Cinematic Universe, equipped with feather boas and jazz squares galore. And meet Chad, your quintessential high school jock, always sporting tees with classic 2000s taglines (see: “I Majored In Vacation,” “My Mom Thinks I’m Rad”) and never spotted without a basketball in hand.

Chad and his fellow East High Wildcats are working at Lava Springs Country Club for the summer. Ryan, at the behest of dear friends Gabriella and Taylor, participates in the annual baseball game. As a theater kid entering the baseball diamond, he is taking a step outside of his comfort zone. Ryan challenges Chad to do the same and perform alongside his friends at the talent show. Aghast at the mere thought, Chad breaks out into a dance number about not wanting to dance. The irony.

The choreography, the tension, the drama—“I Don’t Dance” is just so fruity. Now, this is not to say that a made-for-TV children’s movie intentionally comments on how toxic masculinity impacts queer expression. We simply aim to embrace the delightfully absurd idea that there are homoerotic undertones in a Disney Channel Original Movie.

Throughout the scene, Ryan playfully suggests that “you’ll never know if you never try,” but Chad insists that “there’s just one little thing that stops [him] every time” as the camera pans to his teammates in the dugout. The cinematography insinuates that pressure from his peers and his internalized homophobia prevent him from breaking free from the status quo and reveling in the joy that is dancing.

“I Don’t Dance” surprisingly accomplishes a lot for the movie’s plot. By the end of the scene, Ryan and Chad have inexplicably swapped outfits (?!), and Chad miraculously agrees to participate in the talent show. Ryan helps Chad embrace and celebrate an integral part of himself that he had previously hidden under various sports uniforms. Intentionally fruity or not, queer folks of all ages can resonate with how Chad explores his identity and finally sheds the weight of societal expectations.

At the beginning of “I Don’t Dance,” Ryan and Chad compete against one another. But, in the end, they wind up playing for the same team (wink wink). Go Wildcats!

(Also we’re linking to this Tweet added for reference because VEVO cuts out the outfit swap (we know, homophobic)).

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