Friday, April 10, 2009
Like most gay kids who grow up in America, I was always hungry to see depictions of what it means to be a gay person in the media I consume. After all, when the only stories you see are always about straight people falling in love, or straight people saving the world, you can start to get a complex. So, I've always been interested in the sexuality of characters I read. This goes double for sueprhero comics characters. Because of something I'm writing, I've gotten a lot more interested in gay comics characters, though.
Of course, if we're going to talk about gay superheroes in comics, we're going to have to start with the first openly gay character in Marvel comics , Jean-Paul Beaubier . Though writer John Byrne laid the groundwork for the alienated and often hostile character to be more than just a simple stereotype in tights, it was Scott Lobdell who rocked the comics world in many ways when he allowed Jean-Paul to come out in 1992's Alpha Flight #106 .
The problem? Since then, hardly any Marvel superheroes have ever come out. There have been some, of course: Teddy Altman, Billy Kaplan, and Victor Borkowski.* I'm not going to rehash what so many have pointed out, but not only are there less than even the conservative Kinsey 10% figure, but it seems as if there is practically no such thing as a gay hero in the Marvel universe. Worse, as some have pointed out, the fate of those who do come out is often bleak.
Here is what Perry Moore has to say on the subject.
And here is what Pinkkryptonite has to say on the subject.
Here is the Seattle Times article from that period
Though I'm not sure I agree with the "let him kiss someone or else" mentality, I do understand the feelings of being let down. I am also not blaming the writers: I know that they are constrained by the concerns of those in marketing and sales. After all, it is not accident that Jean-Paul is the only one to announce since he comes from a title that practically no one was reading. I wonder what might happen if a major character from one of the Avengers books came out.
So, I guess until Marvel decides to stop killing off and forcing celibacy on their gay characters, I'll just have to be content with the indie LGBT heroes that I've come to love**.
*=Here I'm only counting those who both appear in more than one issue (making them more than just a gimmick) as well as appear in "normal" continuity, and not some offshoot universe or strange dimensional meddling storyline.
**=such as Pride High, and So Super Duper, a post I intend to make very soon.