Gay Characters in Comic Books

(Facebookers, please ignore the double posting)

I always thought I hated comic books. As a kid I avoided shows like X-men and Batman and TNMT, and I have no idea why. Point being, until my favorite kick ass Vampire slayer (Anita Blake) was turned into a comic book, I never read any comics at all. After Anita, I picked up X-Men: The End, and I was stricken with Emma Frost, after that I went on to explore more interesting characters, and actually bought comics for the first time in my life (as a 19 year old no less) I fell in love with Sabretooth, Emma Frost, Mystique, the Silver Surfer, Storm and especially with Deadpool (“Do I still think in those little boxes? Oh how I missed you, what fun we shall have!”)

Shortly after Anita Blake came out, I thought of transferring my favorite creation (Merrick Anatole Silvak) from novel to comic book, I even wrote a small script and drew a small story board that sucked and I scrapped, along with the script. I suspected that the majority of comic book readers (male, straight, teens-thirties) would really not be too interested in a megalomaniacal gay sorcerer (if at all) So I moved on to writing short stories and fantasy novels that included strong leading female and gay characters, ignoring the comic aspect of speculative fiction.

I eventually came up with my new favorite creation, a bisexual teen living vampire named Kevin James Lancaster (no, I did not intend for it too sound like Harry James Fucking Potter, it just unfortunately happened) and then I really wanted to see a bi character in a comic. Then on June 1st, someone told me about American Comic’s first gay kiss between Rictor  and Shatterstar*

So, I googled (I LOVE google, you can know the basics of virtually anything in a manner of minutes!!) and found that there is a medium sized list of gay superheroes that I was unaware off (I was aware of Emma Frost’s brother Christian, but that’s it, and he had no powers)

First off on the list was obviously Batman and Robin, which is just speculation and the creators deny it, and I myself don’t believe it, but apparently, many people do believe it.

Then on the list is the uber-flamboyant, HIV-positive Hispanic Extrano (Strange in English) in 1988. He could use magic and I consider him generally not interesting.

Alan Moore (one of my favorite comic writers) was the next one to explore Gay and Lesbian Themes in V for Vendetta and Watchmen (That’s probably why he’s a favorite of mine, plus he’s British). At about the same time that The Sandman ( Neil G-something, the same dude who wrote Stardust I think, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m writing from memory here) was exploring themes of transexuality.

Then came Apollo (a superman archetype character) and Midnighter (a batman archetype character) who actually got married and adopted a daughter. I am personally not a fan of Apollo, but Midnighter’s violent take on life I very much enjoy. (I likewise hate both Batman and Superman, I am very much a Marvel kind of person) At this point I realized that Marvel’s giant leap forward was actually long after Apollo and Midnighter got married. Apparently, the Big Gay Kiss happened in the year 2000. Windstorm the publisher of the comic is related legally somehow to DC, and I can’t bloody figure out how. Oh and they’re a British Branch. So no American.

Because I’m on a DC roll, I would like to add now, that the newest incarnation of Batwoman (Kate K-something) is lesbian, and since I’m not a DC comics person, I really don’t know much about that.  (and DC seems generally homophobic, except for Apollo and Midnighter).

But I do know that the amazing Mystique (we’re talking Marvel now, so this I do know) and Destiny (who can tell the future and is blind, wow, big surprise) were lovers, but it was all hush-hush because of Marvel’s ridiculous “no gay” rule. I am not too sure how I feel about the whole sensitive Destiny, very feminine and kick-ass bitch Mystique all in control of the world being a couple because it seems to play too much on the whole masculine lesbian, feminine lesbian, masculine gay, effeminate gay thing. But overall, since I love Mystique, I am willing to overlook what as Moore calls it “that strange attitude towards gays” oh, and Destiny, who I previously hinted that I believed was a boring character, was murdered, so Mystique is alone again.

Then I came across THE couple: Hulkling and Wiccan from Young Avengers (ok, when I said I hated DC I was omitting the Teen Titans) Hulkling is a teen version of the Hulk archetype (not a teenage Bruce whatshisname, just a similar personage ability wise) who is part Skrull and part something else who can shape shift, become somewhat Hulk-like and has the necessary healing factor to go with it (btw, I am not a huge fan of the Hulk or She-Hulk [horrible sexist name] but the 2008 movie was good, therefore I thought I would likewise hate a character named hulkling, but I was wrong) Wiccan is a teenage, male version of another favorite female character of mine, Scarlet Witch. And he totally kicks ass, just like Wanda, plus he’s a guy that adds points to his awesomeness. Their relationship was hinted at from the very beginning, but was confirmed in issue twelve (I think) when they had a very sentimental and cute and awesome set of panels where they decide they are dating, they should go looking for Scarlet Witch, take a trip together, et cetera. ( I can’t do the relationship justice in words).  I absolutely love this couple and I can’t wait for the peck on the cheek that has to come next (unless it already happened and I am already behind again, which happens all the freaking time!!) My favorite quotes from this pair are the following:

“My name’s Billy Kaplan and its official, I have the coolest boyfriend EVER!” – Wiccan

And:

Wiccan: Why bother, he never listens

Hulkling: Hey, I heard that

Wiccan: Oh sure, NOW he listens.

Which I find adorable.

Anyway, in reading this I realized that Northstar is gay, which I someone managed to miss. I have absolutely no idea how I missed it, but I did. And in the Ultimate X-Men incarnation he dates Colossus, no joke. Other noteworthy gay characters in the Marvel universe (recent Marvel universe) are Anole, a lizard-type mutant who was supposed to commit suicide but didn’t cause he’s cool like that. Three characters who I had to wiki cause I have no bloody clue who they are: Phat, Vivisector (sounds too much like viviparous to me, made me laugh, get it? he’s gay and he’s called Vivisector?) and Bloke, all three characters are mercifully dead.  Also included in wiki’s list (which I found far too late in my writing) is someone named Graymalkin who sounds like a character with awesome potential (all of his abilities only work when he’s in the dark!!)  Anole by the way was mentored by Northstar (that was somehow important) Oh and a lesbian character named Karma was listed somewhere in there too.

Ok this brings about the end of my initial look into gay comic book characters. I have a few personal last words.

As a gay man living in America, I appreciate the fact that there are gay superheroes who do not remind me of the gay people I unfortunately know. I say this because I believe that people, gay, bi, straight, or asexual, are all meant to be self-reliant, strong-willed, self-assured and self-critical. Unfortunately, its rarely that I see a gay man be those things in real life, and too often am I reminded that stereotypes are born in reality and that all too often, people who would otherwise have unlimited potential, get caught up in these molds and never move beyond them. I feel like I am surrounded by weak-minded, shallow, emotional gays and lesbians who lose themselves in the stigma and the even worse “pride” that stands as a senseless act of alienation from the rest of society.  I enjoy the Young Avenger’s pairing of Billy and Ted because aside from dealing with real issues like coming out and homophobia, they also continue living as normal a life as any superhero can.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alexa on July 7, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    There’s also Karolina Dean in Runaways, and her partner– the genderfluid Skrull Xavin!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mary Shrieks on July 8, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Over at DC, there’s also Scandal and her lover Knockout, who are both gorgeous and butch as hell (Scandal LEADS her team), Batwoman’s ex-girlfriend Question, and Thunder and Grace in Outsiders. You’d be right in thinking that DC really dropped the ball on gay men, but there is Obsidian in JSA and various supporting characters around other books.

    Reply

  3. Posted by aneurinv on July 12, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Don’t you just love genderfluid Skrulls!?

    And thanks for pointing these out, i obviously missed them the first time around, i’ll go look them up.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Alvin Peters on November 1, 2009 at 9:23 am

    You are late. Actually DC was the first to really tackle homosexuality in comics in the late 80s and early 90s. Really beginning with the questions raised about the Joker’s sexuality throughout the DC universe by heroes and villains alike. The Flash asked the Pied Piper about Joker’s sexual orientation which leads the Piper to come out of the closet himself. The first known outing of a mainstream comic book character. A year and half later Marvel follow up with Alpha Flight member Northstar who is often incorrectly credited with the distinction of being the first because of the publicity that Marvel press release about the planned outing generated.

    Reply

  5. Posted by aneurinv on November 1, 2009 at 9:35 am

    oooohhh, Did not know that!!
    Thank you Alvin, I must now go google.
    To be honest, I am amazed at how much I missed!!

    Reply

  6. http://queersupe.com/a-z-lbgt-comic-book-character-superlist/

    the A-Z LGBT Character Superlist is an alphabetized listing of over 275 LGBT characters from comic books (including superheros, supervillains and supporting cast characters). Click on the character’s name to see an image and short description.

    This list gathers previously shared written character information and scanned images that were first published by another online resource (see SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGMENTS that follow the list) to make it all available in a single, heavily linked, alphabetical list color coded by LGBT status.

    Reply

  7. Posted by bcbdla on December 21, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Actually, Alvin, Marvel’s Northstar was the first hero depicted to be gay.
    Evident as early as Alpha Flight #7 (1983)
    He wasn’t officially outed until many years later.

    Reply

  8. Don’t forget about the rawhide kid from Marvel. He has a new story line going on right now. And the Trade of the first one was just reprinted

    Reply

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