• "High School Musical" director Kenny Ortega has confirmed that Ryan Evans is gay
  • The 70-year-old filmmaker is one of this year's honorees on Variety's Power of Pride list
  • Ryan was played by Lucas Grabeel all throughout the "High School Musical" movie franchise

“High School Musical” character Ryan Evans, who was played by Lucas Grabeel in the hit Disney movie franchise, is gay, director Kevin Ortega has confirmed.

Fourteen years after the Disney Channel original movie made its premiere, Ortega has revealed that Sharpay Evans’ (Ashley Tisdale) fraternal twin brother, Ryan, was gay in the “High School Musical” films.

The 70-year-old filmmaker and choreographer, who is one of this year’s honorees on Variety’s Power of Pride list and is openly gay himself, spoke to the outlet about the “queer aesthetic” in his work and looked back on his highly successful Disney Channel movie trilogy.

Ortega unearthed the truth behind Ryan Evans, revealing that the character indeed identifies as gay and would have “probably come out in college.”

"The character of Ryan in ‘High School Musical,’ Sharpay’s twin brother, we decided he’d probably come out in college," the director said in a statement. "It was less about coming out [in the film] and just more about letting his true colours come forward."

As for the reason why Ortega chose to keep Ryan’s true sexuality hidden, the filmmaker admitted that at the time, he didn't think Disney would allow an openly gay character on its channel.

"I was concerned, because it was family and kids, that Disney might not be ready to cross that line and move into that territory yet. So, I just took it upon myself to make choices that I felt that those who were watching would grab," Ortego explained, noting that "Disney is the most progressive group of people [he's] ever worked with.”

But Ortega said he believes that “High School Musical” viewers would understand the subtle hints he dropped throughout the trilogy. “They would see it, they would feel it, they would know it and they would identify with it. And that is what happened,” he said.

Grabeel previously told TV Line that unlike the "over the top" portrayals of his iconic character, he had a different vision for Ryan after learning about Ortega's own experience as a gay high school student in the '60s.

“I had a lot of talks with [director Ortega] about his own experience in high school. He was not out, and he wasn’t running around being that way, but he had that energy inside of him,” the 35-year-old actor said.

High School Musical
Pictured is the original cast of the "High School Musical" films. Reuters