Homosexuality in Comics

Dr.Strangefate

He Sees You When You're Sleeping. He Knows When Yo
I've wanted to start this discussion for a while, but I've been a little nervous that the board wouldnt be able to aproach the topic seriously

I want to know what people think about the portrayal of Homosexuality in comic books today.

Its becoming more and more common as the years roll by, and as DC and Marvel become less and less afraid to introduce these characters in mainstream books, even in the Teen books like Young Avengers, which are designed for younger readers. This past year Midnighter became the first homosexual character to carry his own ongoing title, one that has potential to run for a long time in the Wildstorm Universe... But Gay characters have existed in Wildstorm and Vertigo since the eighties, so its the more mainstream titles that i'm thinking about.

There are a limited number of Gay Heroes in the core titles, men or women... And there's virtually nobody a gay teenager can look up to and idealize in the same way straight kids can idolize Superman and Batman, or Spider-Man. The closest thing is the X-Men, and that's not all that close... The trouble is that with companies today, wanting to introduce more gay characters creates a lot of problems...

They only have two real options, Introduce an Entirely New Character (like they did with Batwoman), or Retcon an Old Character's sexuality (like they did with Northstar)... Now each of these has worked on several occasions, but introducing a character as gay usually winds up slipping said character into one of the many old stereotypes: The Victim, The Effeminate Flirt, or The Amoral Sex-Machine... You almost never get real people... Some of the Lesbian characters (ie: Maggie Sawyer, Renee Montoya) have been well handled, but the Male characters always seem to be Gay first and People second. Ultimate Colossus and Ultimate Northstar might break that mold, and so might Wiccan and Hulkling, if UXM takes a little more time to deal with it, and if Young Avengers ever comes back.

We've had Gay and Lesbian supporting characters in comics for ages... But why can't we have a noble hero character? Northstar is a bit of a narcissistic jerk, but maybe he can have a boyfriend who is a bit more of a leader, somebody who can show people that just being gay doesn't define you, but its what you do...

A healthy relationship here and there wouldn't hurt. The healthiest gay relationship in comics is between Apollo and Midnighter, and there's isn't all that great... And its not like either of them are role-models. Sure, Midnighter kicks ***, but if any of you had a kid who turned out to be playing for the other team, would you really want them looking up to the Midnighter?

But as a gay person, my view on all this is a little skewed, does anybody want there to be Gay Heroes? Even a few more gay supporting characters here and there?

Because these characters, at their hearts, are there for us to make a connection, and the true heroes are the ones we can see ourselves in... and the closest thing i've got is a egotistical canadian, and a pair of confused sixteen year olds (in a book that never comes out).

Any Thoughts are Welcome, even dissenting oppinions... But lets try not to get immature on this. I really want to prove to myself that we can have threads about serious subjects on this message board.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
Retcon an Old Character's sexuality (like they did with Northstar)...

From what I understand Northstar was always intended to be gay, he was just published in a time period where mainstream characters just didn't get to be gay. I've heard the same thing about Obsidian over at DC.

I think one of the better depictions in mainstream comics was The Blue Starman from James Robinson's Starman. Now while he might get around the criteria thanks to his non-planetary linage he was very most a person first and sleeping with a man second.

I agree that the options for new characters is very limited. Anyone launched as a gay character automatically has the stigma of being a quota filler before anything else and isn't normally given a chance by the public. With the current markets inability to give some books time to find an audience that more than likely spells doom for any gay character attempting a solo outing in modern mainstream comics. Its a shame.
 

Joe Kalicki

Well-Known Member
The earliest gay relationship I can remember in comics was Shrinking Violet and Light Lass in Legion of Super-Heroes in late 80s. That book was able to show all kinds of relationships and situations. It was a real trailblazer.

I remember when Northstar first came out and all the fuss that caused at the time. It was pretty surprising to me that people would react as though it were such a big deal, even though I was still really young at the time. 13, I think.

I don't know, comics are becoming more socially progressive all around, more minority and gay characters, even replacing established characters, like The Question. Of course, Wildcat was the first white guy to be replaced by a latina female way back in the first Crisis. Except in this case, Renee is also gay.

I like the mix of different nationalities and sexualities in comics, I think it's great for the stories, opening up all kinds of different stories.

I still really hate Judd Winnick, though. His only real story is homosexual persecution. It's unfortunately shoehorned into every book he does and I think it does a disservice to the very cause he's championing. It turns people off.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
There should be more gay characters in comic books, and there should be at least one that has a prominent role. With the size of the homosexual community in the real world, and the amount of superheroes wandering through both the DCU and the MU, it just seems natural.

But, I think it's a hard situation to handle. In the two main universes, I feel like homosexuality shouldn't be the primary characteristic of the character. Instead, it should just extend naturally from the concept. I think Montoya is the perfect example. Her homosexuality played a prominent part throughout the run of Gotham Central, but it didn't feel forced. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Judd Winnick, who feels he needs to champion the gay rights agenda and force characters down our throats who are pink first and humans second. The problem with introducing gay characters is that the publicity and the hype will outweigh the quality of the writing. Just look at Batwoman. I think a lot of the reason we don't have any heavy hitting gay characters goes with the territory of comic book writing. It's hard to create a new character these days and have them rise to the status of a major leaguer, regardless of sexuality. But we can't choose the easy way out, or we'll end up with a stereotype. And whether the character's written wonderfully or poorly, they'll always have the stigmata that they were introduced to promote affirmative action diversity. The writers just need to keep telling good stories about good characters, and eventually, a gay character will be able to sustain a solo book.

On the other hand, there are markets that appeal to sub-cultures and fringe audiences. Is it time for a superhero book to come out which caters specifically to a homosexual audience? Hell, yeah. Reaching out to audiences that normally wouldn't pick up comic books is always a good thing. But I don't think DC and Marvel are the places to do this. I think in the very near future, we'll see indie publishers start to reach out to more specific audiences, like this.

As a last note, Obsidian, Jay Garrick's son over in the DCU is a gay character. He has a pretty extensive history and an interesting and compelling personality. Right now he's just a very minor supporting character in JSA, but I think he has the potential to be an incredibly prominent and positive gay character.
 

ProjectX2

Don't expect me to take you with me when I go to s
I have no problem with homosexuality in comics or gay characters. In fact, The Midnighter is one of my favourites.

Personally, I don't think sexuality should be that apparent in comics. What annoys me is that it's always a big deal that a character is gay. Who cares? They're gay, but they're still a good character and their sexuality shouldn't have anything to do with this.

For some reason, I think Invincible should have been gay. That would have been neat.
 

SSJmole

Face-Punching As Foreign Policy
Here is my view and sorry if this is offensive in anyway. I don't mean it to be.


The reason the lack of mainstream homosexual superheroes in my opinion is for multible reasons. 1st Mainstream tv and movies and other such stuff , View homosexuals as the stereo type , very feminine over the top (Like jack on will and grace.) An so they can not been seen as the big strong superman type.

2nd the time most heroes came out homosexuality was viewed as wrong. Most new heroes fail due to fact they feel like rip-offs of other heroes. So it is now almost impossible for a new hero to make a successful run.

3rd If a new hero is created as been gay or lesbian , Then the media jumps all over it as either a) A huge milestone , That creates too much pressure for it to be great. or b) A gimmick , That pretty much dooms the character from the get go.

4th If they were to turn a mainstream hero gay people expect a big drawn out "Jack on dawson's creek" type coming out. That then makes that issue too much drama for something which may not go down well with loyal fans. So It is too risky.

You need to think of homosexuals as a minority. That may be wrong but you do. Look at black superheroes. For years they were stereotype black people and they had "Black" as a name somewhere.

It took years for the The Falcon and Luke Cage and people like that to make it's way on the scene and now it's no big deal to see a black charracter. Hopefully homosexuals will their "The Falcon" but with the problems listed above it is even harder now days for the minorities to get through.

The best at turning a charracter gay IMO would be Nightwing. I like Nightwing (he's my favourite dc hero) and I wouldn't care. The reason I think he is the best bet is for years people questioned Robin's sexuality.

I know this is a long post and not really sure if I am explaining it right or coming across as offensive. So I'll finish up with this : The reasons above are why I think it is almost impossible for main gay hero. That been said I would want more to show that anyone can be a hero and give kids or comic fans who are gay a guy to relate to more.

Also don't rely too much on Ultimate charracters as a lot of people don't read ultimate comics and a lot of 616 fans I know refuse to read it or when they do compaire it to 616 so much they hate it.

However it is a good start and I give props to the guys who created them.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
The best at turning a charracter gay IMO would be Nightwing. I like Nightwing (he's my favourite dc hero) and I wouldn't care. The reason I think he is the best bet is for years people questioned Robin's sexuality.

That'd be about as in character as Oliver Queen coming out.
 
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Dr.Strangefate

He Sees You When You're Sleeping. He Knows When Yo
As a last note, Obsidian, Jay Garrick's son over in the DCU is a gay character. He has a pretty extensive history and an interesting and compelling personality. Right now he's just a very minor supporting character in JSA, but I think he has the potential to be an incredibly prominent and positive gay character.

Its Alan Scott's son, but yes, I totally agree... Unfortunately, he has yet to say a WORD on panel in a single issue of the rebooted run.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
Its Alan Scott's son, but yes, I totally agree... Unfortunately, he has yet to say a WORD on panel in a single issue of the rebooted run.

;) For all the DC I read, I always get those guys' names confused. But yeah, he's the old Green Lantern's son. He hasn't gotten much spotlight in JSA, but has he showed up in Manhunter, OYL?
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
;) For all the DC I read, I always get those guys' names confused. But yeah, he's the old Green Lantern's son. He hasn't gotten much spotlight in JSA, but has he showed up in Manhunter, OYL?

Yep. A decent bit. Strangefate should check out the last arc, it had him and was Sweeney Todd inspired.

Wait, that was the last pre-OYL arc. The OYL one was about Wonder Woman. Still had Obsidian though
 

Gothamite

Well-Known Member
Here is my view and sorry if this is offensive in anyway. I don't mean it to be.


The reason the lack of mainstream homosexual superheroes in my opinion is for multible reasons. 1st Mainstream tv and movies and other such stuff , View homosexuals as the stereo type , very feminine over the top (Like jack on will and grace.) An so they can not been seen as the big strong superman type.

2nd the time most heroes came out homosexuality was viewed as wrong. Most new heroes fail due to fact they feel like rip-offs of other heroes. So it is now almost impossible for a new hero to make a successful run.

3rd If a new hero is created as been gay or lesbian , Then the media jumps all over it as either a) A huge milestone , That creates too much pressure for it to be great. or b) A gimmick , That pretty much dooms the character from the get go.

4th If they were to turn a mainstream hero gay people expect a big drawn out "Jack on dawson's creek" type coming out. That then makes that issue too much drama for something which may not go down well with loyal fans. So It is too risky.

You need to think of homosexuals as a minority. That may be wrong but you do. Look at black superheroes. For years they were stereotype black people and they had "Black" as a name somewhere.

It took years for the The Falcon and Luke Cage and people like that to make it's way on the scene and now it's no big deal to see a black charracter. Hopefully homosexuals will their "The Falcon" but with the problems listed above it is even harder now days for the minorities to get through.

Great post so far...

The best at turning a charracter gay IMO would be Nightwing. I like Nightwing (he's my favourite dc hero) and I wouldn't care. The reason I think he is the best bet is for years people questioned Robin's sexuality.

That is such a bad idea, I think. You're just giving in to all those years of Batman being called a paedophile and Robin his child-lover.

I'm all for gay characters in mainstream comics and I agree with Mole that the problem is often that when a gay character is written, they are stereotyped. Personally, I enjoy when writers delve into a character's sexuality as it makes them more human and more relatable, depending on the character.

Another problem I see is this one: Are there that many gay comic readers? Is there a large audience that can relate to a homosexual character?
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
Another problem I see is this one: Are there that many gay comic readers? Is there a large audience that can relate to a homosexual character?

The thing is, you don't have to be gay to be able to relate to a homosexual character. You just have to be human. And that's the perspective writers need to come at it from.
 

Foolsfolly

Well-Known Member
Homosexuality in comics?

I think most times it's just as clumsy and terrible to read as when white guys write for black people. MOST TIMES. Certain writers get it, most don't. That's why most gay characters feel like a token black guy does in a movie, or "The Best Friend" role.

I like Ultimate Colossus because he's really a character. I like Karolina in Runaways because she's a character, although pairing her with Xavin is an interesting choice because...what's Xavin?

I never liked Northstar (616) he always felt like a meh character and a poor substitute for Quicksilver.

But really, gay characters in comics are usually bad characters not because of some moral bull**** but because they're not characters, they're a public service announcements with legs "Gay's are people too! And now you know! And knowing's half the battle!"

Which is WAY out of place with comics today and feels completely off. So no one has any connection with those characters because they're not characters at all.

But like Apollo and Midnighter show, you have a character who's gay they can still sell (role model though no...hell no) but really role models are hard to have in comics now because...aren't most comic readers fully developed people and not kids?

Meh, different discussion.
 

SSJmole

Face-Punching As Foreign Policy
That is such a bad idea, I think. You're just giving in to all those years of Batman being called a paedophile and Robin his child-lover.

Yes I am kind of , Also in the live action series and other comics. People did think he might be gay. I only used him as it would be the least surprising one I could think of.
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
I've wanted to start this discussion for a while, but I've been a little nervous that the board wouldnt be able to aproach the topic seriously

And if anyone can't, they will be banned. Not even infracted. I'm not going to have an intelligent, thought-provoking thread ruined again.

I think most times it's just as clumsy and terrible to read as when white guys write for black people.

I totally agree. A lot of it seems gratuitous - like the writer just wants to be able to say he had a gay character in his book hoping that it makes him edgy. Maybe things are handled better in indie comics I don't read, but in the mainstream books I've read thus far this seems to always be the case.
 

Gideon Stargrave

Well-Known Member
Yes I am kind of , Also in the live action series and other comics. People did think he might be gay. I only used him as it would be the least surprising one I could think of.

While I agreed with a lot of what you had to say, making Nightwing gay would be a dumb move. It's completely inconsistant with the character, and would just seem forced.

"What, everyone thinks that 12-year-old who runs around in the green and yellow outfit is gay? Well, then, I suppose the only solution is to make the grown up, pulp noir version of the hero gay."

While I understand that characters with a similar image of Nightwing (Midnighter) can be gay, it would be a bad idea to have him retconned into homosexuality when a big part of his solo title has just been him chasing after girls and getting engaged to Barbra Gordon. Why change all of that just to confirm some suspicions that a few people had while watching the live-action Batman show in the 60's?

At this point, even making either of the other two Robins (Tim Drake or Jason Todd) homosexual wouldn't make very much sense. Yes, I'm looking at you, girl's who write way too much slash fanfiction with the Tim/Kon pairing in it.
 

TwilightEL

Well-Known Member
I don't feel like I have anything productive to contribute to the discussion at the moment, but I'd like to know what you think about bisexual characters. It seems like it might be easier to retcon into characters without devaluing their heterosexual relationships.
 

Hibiki

Really is pretentious, no matter what she says. Do
I don't feel like I have anything productive to contribute to the discussion at the moment, but I'd like to know what you think about bisexual characters. It seems like it might be easier to retcon into characters without devaluing their heterosexual relationships.

Can one really be bisexual? i've heard so many arguments about this, mostly from Dr. Drew, that you can't be bi. You're one or the other and if you think you're both, you're just confused. An indirect quote that I heard before. I don't mind either homo or bi characters in comics. Young Avengers is my fave title and Teddy and Billy or homosexual. They're my favorite characters.
 

SSJmole

Face-Punching As Foreign Policy
And if anyone can't, they will be banned. Not even infracted. I'm not going to have an intelligent, thought-provoking thread ruined again.

I may be out of place for saying this but I just got new found respect for you for doing that. I may of done it myself in the past but I do think it is about time we had a nice thread that people deal with in a mature way.


While I agreed with a lot of what you had to say, making Nightwing gay would be a dumb move. It's completely inconsistant with the character, and would just seem forced.

"What, everyone thinks that 12-year-old who runs around in the green and yellow outfit is gay? Well, then, I suppose the only solution is to make the grown up, pulp noir version of the hero gay."

While I understand that characters with a similar image of Nightwing (Midnighter) can be gay, it would be a bad idea to have him retconned into homosexuality when a big part of his solo title has just been him chasing after girls and getting engaged to Barbra Gordon. Why change all of that just to confirm some suspicions that a few people had while watching the live-action Batman show in the 60's?

At this point, even making either of the other two Robins (Tim Drake or Jason Todd) homosexual wouldn't make very much sense. Yes, I'm looking at you, girl's who write way too much slash fanfiction with the Tim/Kon pairing in it.

You have a point wade. I 100% fold on the Nightwing thing. He was manly an example BUT you are right that would be a dumb move.


I don't feel like I have anything productive to contribute to the discussion at the moment, but I'd like to know what you think about bisexual characters. It seems like it might be easier to retcon into characters without devaluing their heterosexual relationships.

That would be ok too. I have no problem with a bi sexual hero and it leaves it open for more possible love interests. Good suggestion
 

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