Celebrating Pride With… Frankie Rodriguez: Being Part Of Disney’s First Gay Romance Is A ‘Dream Come True’

‘HSMTMTS’ star Frankie Rodriguez spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about Carlos and Seb’s history-making romance, how he’s educating himself this Pride Month, and more.

Frankie Rodriguez, 20, stars as Carlos in the critically-acclaimed and beloved Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Carlos is a high school student at East High and the choreographer of High School Musical in the series. He’s the first openly gay character in the High School Musical franchise.

HollywoodLife talked with Frankie EXCLUSIVELY about how he’s celebrating Pride Month this year and what Pride means to him. He opened about Carlos and Seb’s relationship on HSMTMTS. The couple made history as Disney’s first-ever gay romance. Frankie also revealed what he’d like to see from Carlos and Seb in season 2!

How are you honoring Pride Month this year since we’re in a time that’s very different from previous years? 
Frankie Rodriguez: It’s very different this year. I think, for me, it became less about the celebration. I think just based off the time that we’re in right now, it’s just more about educating yourself. For me, I’ve just been trying to not just educate myself on stuff that’s happening now, but stuff that has happened in the past. I am a full-grown adult, and I’m embarrassed to say how old I was when I learned about Stonewall. I only learned about it because I have a project that I was going in for, and it got me wondering what else is out there that I don’t know about that isn’t taught in schools. I’ve just been using this alone and quiet time to just educate myself as best I can.

How would you normally celebrate Pride?
Frankie Rodriguez: I think just the celebrations the way everyone else has, especially living in Los Angeles. Being close to West Hollywood everyone just goes out and has such a good time. It is always a nice kickoff to summer, I will say. So I was a little bummed this year, but we’re saving lives.

What advice do you have for someone who is celebrating their first Pride this year?
Frankie Rodriguez: It’s kind of tricky. It’s hard with this year. I think I would just say the same as I’ve been doing, just really educate yourself on why we have these liberties to express ourselves.

Do you have an ultimate LGBTQ icon?
Frankie Rodriguez: Oh my gosh, yes, but of course right now I can’t think of anyone. In the music world, I really love Troye Sivan. When you really stop and think about it I was like: is he really the only millennial-ish gay pop star? I really like Troye Sivan. I also find inspiration with RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m always finding fun stuff there.

What does Pride mean to you?
Frankie Rodriguez: It means a lot. I grew up in a very religious family, so I think growing up I repressed a lot of my interests. So being an adult now and getting to make those decisions for myself means a lot. There are so many things that I love about the LGBTQ community, so the fact that I get to really be upfront about what I’m celebrating is fun.

Carlos and Seb have really captivated High School Musical: The Musical: The Series viewers. How does it feel to be at the forefront of a history-making Disney moment? 
Frankie Rodriguez: It’s like a dream come true. It’s just that lottery ticket job that I never really even stopped to think about because when you’re making the show, it’s so much about the storylines and the characters that you never realize how it’s going to hit with audiences until it’s done and aired. I’m so happy that people have found things to relate to with these characters. It’s really a real dream come true.

When you got the role of Carlos, did you talk about the character and integrating your experiences with creator Tim Federle? 
Frankie Rodriguez: Yes, in terms of just an actor trying to get as much information as you can about the character. But the interesting thing about television is that most of the time it’s being written as you’re filming, so you can only get little pieces of information here and there. What was fun is just once you’re really starting to work with the creative team on set, they start to take some of your cadences and put it into the character. Just to create this character that’s very similar to myself has been a lot of fun. But also to have an openly gay showrunner [Tim Federle] who is just really championing for these characters is just the best.

The show has been renewed for season 2. Is there anything you want to explore with Carlos and Seb?
Frankie Rodriguez: I can’t give too much away because I know nothing, but I would love to see more of their relationship, like how they get along outside of the group. I think it would be fun because both those characters are just so funny, so I would just love to see how they interact by themselves.

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