Last week I wrote about the controversy surrounding DC hiring anti-gay activist Orson Scott Card. And it seemed no sooner did I put down the metaphorical pen than I heard the news that Batwoman had proposed to her girlfriend. (Damage control on DC’s part? Or am I being cynical?) So this week I decided to put together a little guide to the major gay superheroes in comics.
Northstar has to come first in the list. He was arguably the first major gay superhero, coming out back in 1992. Even if he wasn’t the first gay superhero, though, he’s certainly the first superhero to get married! So he definitely gets top billing.
That said, though, you’ve probably never heard of him. That’s because Marvel couldn’t (wouldn’t) out a major character in 1992. So they chose a member of Canadian mutant super team Alpha Flight.
Apollo and the Midnighter come from the Wildstorm Comics stable of characters and came out quite quickly. They had a commitment ceremony long before Northstar started shopping for rings and they’ve adopted a daughter (and she’s the spirit of the 21st century, so make of that what you will). Wildstorm is now owned by DC but started life as a separate company and Apollo and the Midnighter are unabashed Superman and Batman analogues.
Which makes sense. There’s always been a chemistry between Supes and Bats, right?
I took a little dig at Northstar for being a minor league hero, but Colossus is definitely a bigger ticket. He’s one of the X-men and even made it into the X-men movies. Okay, yes, he’s straight in mainstream continuity. But back in the 90s Marvel launched their Ultimate line, comics using the same characters but updating and reinventing them for new readers. And in this universe, Colossus is gay. In fact he dated Ultimate Northstar.
DC wiped out years of continuity in 2011 and completely rebooted every one of its titles as part of their “New 52” initiative. As part of this reboot, DC announced that they would out one of its classic characters. Batman was immediately everyone’s favourite candidate (perhaps due to the enduring influence of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent). But DC opted for Green Lantern. But not Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern you might recognise from the movie. They picked Alan Scott, the Green Lantern from alternative and second string universe Earth Two.
I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. Alan Scott wasn’t the quite the big ticket name DC had led us to expect.
Batwoman has been around for almost sixty years but came to the fore during DC’s 52 event when Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman disappeared for a year. Although Batwoman is a bit of a Batman clone (she’s a millionaire and suffered some childhood trauma of her own) she’s quite beloved and big enough to have her own comic. And she just proposed to her girlfriend in a frankly stunning panel of comic art.
Now tell me: are there enough gay superheroes in comics? Or are there some characters you think still need to step out of the closet?
Update: I’ve written a superhero story of my own! Pinnacle is the only superhero in the world and is determined to look after all of us. But he can’t look after himself. Does being a hero mean self-sacrifice or can a balance be found?
Check out The Homeless Hero now!