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Maya Hawke Shares Her Thoughts On Fan Theories About Inside Out 2 Having A Queer Storyline

Minor spoilers for Inside Out 2 are ahead. If you haven’t seen the sequel on the 2024 movie schedule, you can catch it in theaters now. 

When we started seeing trailers for Inside Out 2, there was a lot of speculation and theories about Riley’s sexuality, because it seemed like she might have a crush on one of the girls on her hockey team. Now, Maya Hawke, who plays Anxiety in the movie, has opened up about the discourse surrounding Riley and if she has a queer storyline. 

We now know that Inside Out 2’s story is all about Riley trying to make a hockey team and dealing with the struggle of trying to make new friends and maintain relationships with others who are moving to a new school. Her relationship with Val, an older team member, specifically caused discussion about Riley’s sexuality, and when asked about that on Sirius XM, Maya Hawke gave this thoughtful answer:  

I think whether or not you are straight or queer or bi, as a young woman, and I think this could be true for young men as well if they weren’t so socialized to be afraid to touch each other and interact with each other, but as a young woman, your relationships with other young women are so powerful. The love, the admiration, the jealousy, but in combination with wanting to be near the person that you’re jealous of, like it is so powerful. They are often the greatest heartbreaks of our life when those relationships go badly. They are often the most intense cry in your closet, ‘I want this person to like me,’ loves that you ever have in your life, no matter what your sexuality is.

Hawke had been asked about TikToks and posts being made about Riley maybe being queer and how she felt about people reacting to her character Anxiety and Ayo Edebiri’s Envy. The Stranger Things star noted that the stage of life Riley is in is when she builds her identity and feels her emotions intensely, she said:

It’s where we build our identity. You know, I think that that’s also why Envy is so important in this story is because as you transition into high school, you are trying to build your identity, and so you are looking around at other people and going, ‘Oh, I want to be like that. Oh, I want to be like that. Oh, yes. Oh, that would be, if I could be that, then that would be better.’ Right? You know, and so I think that seeing that in Riley I think is amazing and great and should be seen.

As critics have seen Inside Out 2 (our own review of the Inside Out sequel gave the movie 4.5 stars) have noted, one of the reasons why the movie works so well is because everyone feels those emotions of anxiety, fear, envy, joy, anger and more. So, anyone can relate to Riley’s story, as Hawke was saying. 

However, she also understands why fans thought the main character might be queer, and she noted that those views are “totally appropriate,” as she said:

And I think that also, if you were to see something else in her, that’s also totally appropriate because as young women, I think the way we, I’m repeating myself again. I just was gonna say my first point again.

That point, to reiterate, is that young women’s relationships with each other, no matter their sexuality, are “so powerful.” And that’s so true, Riley could be attracted to anyone and the story that’s told in this movie still applies to just about everyone. 

It’s always possible that Riley could be part of the LGBTQ+ community – maybe that will be addressed in a third Inside Out film. However, in this movie, nothing is confirmed or denied. This girl is simply figuring out who she is and learning to be her truest self.  

To see Inside Out 2, you can catch it in theaters right now. To go back and see where Riley’s story began, you can stream Inside Out with a Disney+ subscription

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