Gay Comic Book Characters: A Brief History of Gay Superheroes
Recently, one of the biggest stories in the world of comic books was the "outing" of two mainstream comic book characters, Shatterstar and Rictor. In Peter David's X-Force, these two long-time friends shared an impromptu kiss after a harrowing battle, finally putting to bed fan questions about their sexuality.
To long time fans, this comes as no real shock as the two would often go off on long off-panel "adventures", the contents of which were never revealed. The two shared the first-ever visible, high profile kiss between two men in the history of Marvel Comics. Despite Shatterstar creator (and embarrassment to art) Rob Liefield's complaints, it looks like the two will be batting for the other team for the foreseeable future.
In honor of the event, let's take a look back at some other mainstream comic book characters who tend towards same-sex relationships. And for those interested in the softer side, read more about lesbian superheroes here.
Northstar- Alpha Queer
Twenty years has been a long time in the world of social activism. In the world of comic books, where last weeks adventures are old news, its several generations of deaths and resurrections. When Canadian super-team Alpha Flight's resident speedster and fashion model Northstar came out of the closet in 1992, it was a major news story. In a world where AIDS was running rampant and people were still frightened and confused about the causes, Northstar came out to aid those who would be shunned by closed mindedness - both in the comic book world of flying and magic and the real world.
Marvel has decided to use their first gay character for another first: the first same-sex superhero wedding to ever be depicted in Marvel comics. Northstar will marry his non-powered boyfriend in Astonshing X-Men 51. Luckily, the X-Men's home state of New York welcomes gay marriage. Of course, Northstar's native Canada has allowed homosexual unions for years, but don't think too hard about that.
John Byrne, the man most commonly credited with creating the Northstar character, claims that Norhtstar's homosexuality was always part of the character. In fact, Northstar was supposed to have an AIDS crisis of his own, but skittish Marvel editors pulled the plug. They explained the increasingly sick and feeble Northstar's illness as being caused by a previously unknown fey heritage that required him to return to the mystical world of Asgard.
That's right - he wasn't gay. Just a fairy.
Obsidian - Creature of Shadow, Loves Broadway
DC Comics isn't without their own stable of homosexual characters. With the lesbian Batwoman headlining Detective Comics, they have one of the most high profile LGBT characters in mainstream comics. However, she wasn't their first gay character - not by a long shot.
Obsidian is the son of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. Both he and his sister Jade received super powers due to their fathers mystical heritage. While his sister received Green Lantern like powers, Obsidian gained the ability to control shadows and meld his body with the darkness. After some bouts with mental illness and villainy, Obsidian came around and then came out.
Now serving with the Justice Society of America, Obsidian has gained a rather high profile in the DC Universe. He was also a recurring cast member of the Manhunter comic where he expressed his love of Stephen Sondheim musicals and had a rather steamy bedroom scene with another male character.
Wiccan and Hulkling
These two teen aged members of the Young Avengers are part of a new generation of super heroes who seem less concerned about sexuality and more concerned with actual heroing. The news of their relationship brought nary a raised eyebrow to their team mates and has rarely been treated as anything other than a regular relationship.
Early in the comic's history, the two tried to let their parents know they were dressing up and playing super hero after school. Their parents misunderstood what type of coming out the two had planned and immediately informed them they had known they were gay for a long time and accepted them no matter what.
They never did get around to telling them they were super heroes, but the lack of drama surrounding the entire situation was a nice change of pace from big reveals and melodrama.
Apollo and Midnighter
He's like Batman but makes people's heads explode. He's like Superman and he ALSO makes people's heads explode but he's not as happy about it. The Midnighter and Apollo are the Wildstorm universes premiere gay couple. No ambiguity here, the two Authority heroes have kissed, made love, gotten married, and adopted themselves a baby girl. If they weren't dysfunctional fascists with a mean streak, they'd be an inspiration to America.
The two have faced criticisim for being perhaps... too "queeny" with one another, but this rare couple have often been the realistic face of gay comicbook characters, with no taboo holding them back.
Woah! The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, has joined the ranks of LGBT superheroes in the DC's New 52 universe. Unfortunately, he's only in the rebooted Earth-2 universe and won't be interacting with any of the characters in the main continuity. Also, the aforementioned Obsidian, probably doesn't exist any more.
Well, check out James Robinson's Earth-2 and find out how Scott's new identity plays out!
The Best of the Rest
With comic books finally catching up with the times, there's more LGBT characters than can be run down in a reasonable amount of time. Here are a few more to help round out the roster.
- Karolina Dean and Xavin - She's a gay teenage alien. He's a gender confused shape-changer (also an alien). They love each other, but she's not down with the man-parts. Good thing he's a shape changer...
- John Constantine - No, not Keanu Reeves. This British paranormal detective is an affirmed bisexual and tangentially part of the DC Universe.
- Anole- This young X-Man under the tutelage of Northstar also came out after early speculation about his sexuality. Those X-Folks are might progressive
That's it for now, and I appreciate no Batman and Robin jokes. We both have new material, thanks very much. If you enjoyed this article, read about Gay Video Game Characters too!
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