In a roundabout way the public outing of Batman and Robin in the 50s legitimized the possibility of gay readings in ambiguous characters.
Krazy Kat was a deeply influential comic strip that started in 1913 and ran for thirty years. It is an embodiment of the ambiguity and social transgression that are seen as staples of animation.
19/90 movies have a female protagonist. That’s only 21.11% of Disney animated feature films.
To really understand what makes Zootopia so unique, it’s important to take a look at female primary protagonists in theatrical animation, particularly the royalty. There are relatively few female primary protagonists in American animation, and a large number of them have either been royals or women whose love interests are royals.
The primary complaints were that the original She-Ra was a “symbol of womanhood”, and upheld an idealized example of femininity while the new She-Ra did not. These complaints were made before the show came out, after only looking at a handful of images.
The Japanese and Chinese spin-off shows vaguely tie-in to the original series, but make changes to the world/characters to fit the demographic these new series are targeting.
In the first film they are forced together, and share a mutual dislike, bound together by circumstance. Their overarching character development though the franchise is about their friendship, and building of an ohana (together).
The title characters, particularly Stitch, have products a plenty, and are the focus of the franchise. In many ways, this allowed the supporting characters of Jumba and Pleakley to fly under the radar at a time when Disney would not have considered having an openly LGBTQ character. It would be eight years after the TV show finished airing that an out gay character would finally be shown on the Disney channel.