The Only Gay in the Justice League?

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Liberal Revolution points us to this story about Stan Lee creating the “world’s first gay superhero.”

Here we go again. A few years ago the characters Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority were declared as the world’s first superheroes (how about this for a lamentable headline: “Holy cow! Men in tights turn out to be gay“). However, the media only noticed two years after the series had been running – and then only because of a censorship row. Back in 1986, Watchmen – the film version of which (court case notwithstanding) is likely to be out on general release a long time before Stan Lee’s effort gets filmed – featured a lesbian superhero (Solitaire) and a gay superhero (Hooded Justice). Going even further back, the creators behind X-Men and its spin-off titles were writing gay characters, although they weren’t allowed to “out” them until a minor character called Northstar got his chance in 1992 (this being the enlightened eighties, one storyline featured him getting AIDS with the intention of killing him off, but plans changed and he “got better”).

One way or another, we’ve had gay superheroes for well over 20 years. They remain under-represented and tend to be portrayed as tragic doomed figures (The Authority being a notable exception to this), but they are out there. Creating another token character – a “gay superhero” as opposed to a “superhero who happens to be gay” (especially one where it is clear from the DigitalSpy article above that the cliches about having a “secret identity” and being “in the closet” are going to get mined to destruction – this is Stan Lee and Stan The Man doesn’t do subtle) is hardly progress.

What a pointless thing to rant about at 2am! But there you go.

9 thoughts on “The Only Gay in the Justice League?

  1. That’s true (although I’m not convinced that Zack Snyder would agree with us). I suppose my only real gripe is that the gay characters are stuck in the 1930s and not fleshed out.

  2. Actually, I suspect the first gay superhero dates, unfortunately, to 1971

    Not *all* gay superheroes (or at least superheroines) are presented as tragic figures these days – the new Question and Batwoman, for example, There’s also some of the Prometheas in Promethea. But the vast majority still are, unfortunately…

  3. Andrew H:

    1) I’m not counting parodies.

    2) Good point about Question 2, Batwoman and Promethea. Indeed the latter possibly qualifies as featuring the first trans superhero.

    3) Re: Captain Metropolis – I stand corrected!

  4. Oh, and now I come to think of it, there’s JetLad in Top 10. The “prequel” Forty-Niners in particular is an excellent example of a comic about a gay superhero which avoids stereotype. Maybe I’ve over-egged it a little.

  5. I hate dc’s new 52 cause they erased 80% of their lgbt characters. It’s disgusting and I hate barry allen and Geoff johns for it.

  6. Really? Genuine question, but where did you get that stat from? I haven’t seen a notable drop in lgbt characters, and off the top of my head can think of at least two new ones: the Earth Two Green Lantern and Barbara Gordon’s new trans housemate Alysia Yeoh.

    I wouldn’t dream of defending New 52 – in most other ways they’ve been appallingly regressive. But I don’t think that figure is accurate.

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