5 Reasons Your Kids Must See The ADORABLE Queer-Crush Short, 'In A Heartbeat'

Photo: In a Heartbeat
in a heartbeat gay crush animated short film

Love is love, y'all. And it's going viral.

I just watched the animated short film "In A Heartbeat" — about a boy who has a crush on another boy — and now I'm in love, too ... with this beautiful little work of art.

When I was a kid, there were no images of gay people in the media.

I remember thinking Jim J. Bullock on "Hollywood Squares" was an unusual fellow, but I wasn't quite sure how to place his flamboyance into my understanding of masculinity and "what men do". After all, I grew up in the Bible Belt in the 1980s. I didn't know what "gay" meant until I called my brother a "f-g" during a typical sibling argument as a kid. The room fell silent, and my mom stopped everything to explain what it meant to be gay.

She said there's nothing wrong with being gay, but that some people think there is, so they say mean things like "f-g." (Yes, my parents are awesome). 

I didn't understand women could be gay, too, until middle school, despite always knowing I liked both boys and girls.

I figured everyone felt how I felt, and that most people just chose to date the opposite sex because it was easier. Despite having great parents, I still felt a ton of shame around how I felt, and didn't talk about it openly until I was in college. 

My bisexuality (which I now call "pansexuality") wasn't meant to be a secret, but I can't pretend that my own shame from a lifetime of pushing the feelings away didn't play a role in letting most people assume I was straight. I wish that I'd been more open my whole life, the way I am now. 

That shame is the reason this gay-love short is so powerful to me. And I'm not alone. In just three days, it's been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube.

Here are 5 reasons why you should watch the viral video "In A Heartbeat" (and other queer-friendly media!) with your kids — TODAY.

1. It shows a boy/boy crush as normal.

This is important because it is normal!

It's normal to be queer, as odd as that sounds! Sure, the majority of people identify as heterosexual, but it's not weird, wrong, or even that unusual to be queer anymore. What a gift for our kids to understand this at a young age. 

"Children learn about relationships by what they see," says Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, a psychologist, life coach, and host of the popular podcast, The A - Z of Sex. "It is essential that they see positive images of all types of relationships so that they can see themselves reflected in cultural images."

She explains that children often identify sexual orientation before or at puberty. "If all they see are negative images of homosexuality or transgender people, they are much more likely to grow up feeling self-hatred rather than self-acceptance.  

For those who don’t identify as LGBTQ, seeing a wide range of relationship images is important to create acceptance and tolerance."

2. The queer crush is totally adorable, sweet, and innocent.

Even though I was raised by very pro-LGBT equality people who publicly spoke out for gay rights, I still thought being gay was about sex. It was very "sexy" and not very romantic. I remember people saying that what people do in their bedroom wasn't anyone else's business.

This is true, but being queer isn't just about bedrooms. It's also about making dinner together in the kitchen, eating breakfast at the kitchen counter, watching TV on the couch, and hanging out in the outside world, being in love

Queer love is about love, just like straight love. It's about sex, sure, but not any more than straight love is. 

3. It sends a message, when you watch it with your kids, that you see same-sex love as okay.

No matter how you vote or what your politics are, your kids probably don't know how you FEEL about same-sex attraction, love, and relationships. 

Watching this with your kids doesn't have to be a big production. You can just say, "Oh this is so sweet, want to watch with me?" and let them know that you think it's a wonderful love story, and then move on. 

The message will be sent — there's no shame, it's not a big deal.

4. 'In A Heartbeat' offers your kids a touch-point for talking about romantic feelings, of any variety.

If your kids want to talk to you, someday, about same-sex love or ANY kind of love, they will have this touch point for the conversation.

"Dad, remember when we watched the video about the boys who fell in love?" just might be the beginning of an important conversation between you and your child someday.

5. It opens up an opportunity to talk to older kids about homophobia, bullying, and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.

Kids are being taught in schools that bullying is wrong, and few kids today are OK with picking on kids with disabilities or "nerdy" kids, like when we were young. 

But somehow, even in very progressive communities, kids use words like "f-g" casually throughout middle school and even into high school. And this is dangerous.

For most parents, the idea that our kids might say these hurtful bigoted words is absurd —  but, if you could be a fly on the wall of any seventh-grade lunchroom, you might be shocked. 

That's why you need to share a video like this, and other media that features queer characters as totally normal and healthy, and talk directly to your kids about words they should not use, why they shouldn't use them, and how truly DANGEROUS homophobia and transphobia are to people.

So yes, watch "In a Heartbeat" now! It's wonderful. Then talk to your kids about crushes, love, and discrimination at an age-appropriate level.

Remember that saying nothing about important topics allows people to assume anything they want, and when it comes to our kids, we need to make our feelings known.

Love is love, and it's something you live daily and can teach your kids.

Here are a few other LGBT-friendly book and TV options to introduce your kids to the total normalcy of same-sex relationships:

Lumberjanes: A truly incredible story of campers who spend the summer in the middle of a mysterious, magical forest where friendship and adventure are life. Ages 5 and up. 

Nimona: A gripping graphic novel about a mischievous and adventure-seeking teen, featuring swords and shields and shape-shifting. Ages ~9 and up. Great for kids in middle school, in particular. 

Supergirl: The second TV series season of the modern version of the classic story is particularly great, featuring a love story between two tough crime-fighting women (not Supergirl). Season 1 is fun, but Season 2 is really special for kids who like superheroes and adventure. Does have scary adventure scenes, fight scenes, and some monsters, so probably better for bigger kids. 

The Loud House: A Nickelodeon kids' show that low-key features an interracial gay couple as the parents of one of the characters.

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and media critic whose writing has appeared on sites like Time, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Babble, Everyday Feminism, and more. She serves as Senior Editor, Experts Division, at YourTango. Follow Joanna Schroeder on Twitter.