Rainbow Bridge: Marvel And DC Comics Bring Same-Sex Superheroes Into The Spotlight

This morning, the ladies of ABC's The View were talking about a celebrity wedding. Happens all the time, right? But the celebrities in question were the X-Men, not the Kardashians. And the wedding? It's going to be super-fast adventurer Northstar marrying his longtime boyfriend Kyle. Definitely not your typical talk-show fare.

While this storyline was likely in the works for months, the fact that Marvel chose to announce it now probably isn't just coincidence. Marriage equality and gay rights have been an ever-increasing concern in American cultural discourse, an the issue have become only more energised by President Obama's recent personal endorsement of same-sex marriages. So, Marvel's announcement of Northstar's storyline in Astonishing X-Men may just be a case of great timing.

However, rival publisher DC is playing coy with what may be even more ambitious plans. After top editor Dan Didio announced the news over the weekend, DC Comics exec Courtney Simmons confirmed today that they'll be reintroducing one of their "major, iconic" characters as a homosexual. The House of Superman isn't offering any teasers as to who it might be but that report at Comic Book Resources parses Simmons's wording to speculate that it'll be a male character. DC already has Batwoman as a new but prominent lesbian character.

As stated in this CBR article, Didio had previously said that DC's New 52 reboot wouldn't see reinvented characters changing sexual preferences. And there was an embarrassing moment in Northstar's fictional history where he was declared to be part fairy (as in the magical beings). Sigh.

Still, there's a sense that each publisher's trying to be on the proverbial "right side of history" with these moves, timed to hit during LGBT History Month. Of course, there's the naked hope that these plotlines deliver publicity, massive sales and sellouts in each case. But, mercenary motivations aside, if these editorial decisions get executed well, then they'll reflect a measure of the social justice that characters in Marvel and DC Comics spend so much time fighting for.

Oh, I'm putting money on Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, being the gay character that DC brings out of the closet. He's not the current Robin but could still be called iconic, if you wanted to stretch. Who do you think it'll be?


    Anybody who's surprised about this gay marriage obviously has missed the entire point about X-Men.

    If they make it Captain America, that'd be awesome.

      Knowing the care comics tend to take, his uniform will now be replete with assless chaps...

      Cap isn't DC

        Marvel were mentioned, its ok. Don't panic.

          Yes, Marvel were mentioned, but how can it possibly be Captain America, since the iconic character who's coming out is from DC??

            Oh gawd *whoreallycares.jpg*

              Is it wrong of me that I read that as Whore Ally Cares? I mean, she's probably a sweet girl and all...

    I'm not sure if I like the idea of suddenly turning characters gay, especially when it's just to say 'hey look, we've got a gay character. Aren't we progressive? Buy our stuff'.

    I think it would be much better if they launched a new hero and had it written into their story from day one that they were gay rather than making these changes to already established characters.

      Feels a bit forced. But hey, good intentions -- I think -- so kudos to them.

      I agree that they shouldn't change the preferences of an already established character, but I have no objection to a gay character at all. I guess it would do all kinds of good, though, for a figure so engrained in popular culture to be a 'role model'. (Though not at the expense of story and realism, I hope.)

        If it IS Tim though, then there really are no preferences. In fact, Tim is so repressed it would make perfect sense that he was in self-denial about his sexuality..

          To be honest, I didn't even know Tim Drake existed until Arkham City. I always thought Robin lived and died with Dick Greyson. And who's this Nightwing they speak of?! :P

          (I suppose I need to read more.)

            Technically Robin DIED with Jason Todd ;)

            The Joker saw to that with a crowbar... then ten tonnes of dynamite

    I remember reading something where it was put forward that it will only truly be progressive when its not actually a factor that they're gay. When its just not even an issue. Its pointed out here, it makes the news etc, but when the characters are introduced and theyre just gay, as Bruce Wayne is just straight and noone cares either way, you see them out at dinner in a frame with the same gender or waking up in a bed with the same gender, and its not made a big deal of, that's more important than making a huge deal out of the whole ''WE'RE TURNING A STRAIGHT GAY!''

      Yes, this (again)
      I thought Mass Effect 3 did this pretty well, with Cortez casually bringing up a husband and Traynor being interested in FemShep.

        Great examples. When Cortez just mentioned his husband out of the blue, I actually bought it, his character was so well done. It wasn't a ''Ohhhhh Shep you didnt know I wath a fwaming homothexual?" (lets be frank, most gay characters in games to this point ended up coming close to that stereotype), moment, it was a genuine moment of a man who lost his loved one. Or as close as its ever gotten in a videogame at this point, that's how it should be done. Traynor, she just came across as a flirty young woman who wanted to get a bit, I didn't see sexuality as an issue in ME3, I think Bioware hit the nail on the head with the handling of it. Now if the comics could stop handling it in such a clumsy way...

      Ex Machina handled this very well. Reporters asked Hundred if he was gay, and at no point in the entire series is it explicitly confirmed or denied. His sexuality is just his own, part of him, irrelevant to the story.

      I think Doctor Who does a great job when it comes to that sort of thing.

        +1 The face of Boe - originally Jack Harkness from 51st Century quite comfortably shows that he's so progressive that it's never a question of sexuality - just a question of who he is attracted to at the time. I tell you it shocked the shit out of me the first time he kissed a guy though because I'd personally never even thought about it until that exact moment.

    I remember a few years back folks went crazy at the suggestion of making Jimmy Olsen gay in that proposed Superman movie...

      Yeah, but that's because he's meant to have a thing for Lois Lane :P

        I suppose he was the sort of every man character that kids projected themselves onto as well, making him gay would lead to a whole lot of angst and soul searching maybe? (Logic be damned! :D)

    it's robin. just you wait.

    It won't be a villain, because that would lead to Gay=>Evil bullshit in the media.

    Tim Drake makes sense.

    Wonder Woman also makes perfect sense, in that she grew up on an island populated entirely by women, and turned down Steve Trevor...

    With the repeal of " don't ask, don't tell", Captain Atom would be a powerful choice

    Finally, Booster Gold. He's from the future where they don't discriminate anywhere near as much (demonstrated when he smacked the shit out of some female villains, explaining that he believes in equality), and he's got enough swagger to pull off the whole "I'm gay, deal with it" mentality.

    Oh, on a slightly separate, while I generally advocate DC as being much better written overall, major kudos must go to Marvel for always being ahead of the game with this. They had the first Black hero with his own solo title (Luke Cage), Northstar was the first openly gay superhero who wasn't characterised entirely as being gay, and they even distributed religious beliefs quite well.

    It's obvious it's Aquaman, he's been in the closet for years

    I can't help but laugh. BOTH of the comic book gay marriages have also been interracial marriages as well. They're just trying way too hard to either "be progressive" or push agendas. I honestly find it laughable rather than controversial, shocking, or somehow "good" for society.

    One of the reasons I quit reading comics in my teens was that they always jumped on popular issues of the time, and usually competely changed the canon in the process. (not that comics are known for sticking to canon or anything, but...) Remember in the 80s when they took on the issue of child molestation/abuse and revealed Spider-Man had been sexually abused as a kid? Yeah, stick to stylish super-villain arse-kicking and skip the agendas...

    It's SO going to be Wonder Woman. Come on, everyone's known for years!

    I'm calling The Flash

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