I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a whole lot about comics. I’ve seen the movies and read some of the more popular titles (Archie and Watchmen included), but that’s the extent of my comic knowledge.
So when the cover for Marvel’s latest “Astonishing X-Men” issue, featuring a same-sex couple kissing at the altar, made the rounds on gay blogs last week, I did a double-take. Not to be outdone, DC Comics also announced they would be outing one of their long-standing popular characters. Since when had comics become so explicitly, instead of implicitly, gay?
Originally, I wasn’t going to write this piece—I don’t know nearly enough about the topic, and the people who do are savage in their passion. But comics are important to more than just the people who read them. They have the power to influence the mindsets of children and to change the attitudes of adults. And with the barrage of superhero films in the last decade, comic book characters have been reaching a wider audience than ever before, thus increasing their potential for impact.
This impact is not lost on One Million Moms, an offshoot of the American “Family” Association, which opposes gay rights, pornography, and workers’ rights, among other fabulous things. Advocating a boycott of the two comic publishers, OMM released a statement saying,
“This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don’t but do want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27).”
Of course, like recent boycotts of gay-related products, this will likely be a boon for both DC and Marvel who will revel in the spoils of their sinful ways—and so they should. Just look at what happened to sales at Starbucks after they took a pro-gay stance. Cha-ching!
One Million Moms does make at least one good point, though. Introducing gay people (superheroes and non-superheroes alike) into the lives of children and teens probably affects their future respective attitudes toward gays. But whereas OMM sees this as an affront to all that is holy, I see this as a healthy acknowledgement of the diversity in our society—a diversity that is only growing. It goes without saying that this is not “brainwashing”, but is, in fact, educational. As for convincing children that there’s a magical man in the sky who judges them for touching themselves…
Anyways, back to the action. These latest steps by Marvel and DC, while significant in the grand scheme of things, are not the first to be taken. The X-Man Northstar—the superhero who marries his fiancé in the latest Marvel comic—smashed out of his closet in 1992, and in 2006, Batwoman came out as a lesbian, an event that was voted the number one most important gay moment in comic book history.
Northstar’s wedding to his non-superhero boyfriend, it should be noted, is not the first same-sex ceremony to take place in the world of comics. Earlier this year, Archie Comics’ newcomer Kevin Keller married his boyfriend. (I, myself, was more surprised to know that people still read Archie. To each their own, I suppose.)
Of course, the best thing to come from these developments is the potential for gay superheroes to appear on the silver screen. The steps taken by the comic world giants thus far are important in their own right, but bringing them to life on the silver screen will have the greatest effect on changing the attitudes of bigoted people while telling youth that even gay people can be heroes.
This seems unlikely, though, given that these films are heavily marketed toward the “bro” market, members of which I imagine would be put-off at the sight of their male superhero passionately kissing his boyfriend as the dust settles after an epic battle. (If it were Batwoman and her girlfriend, well, that’d be a different story.)
I guess we’ll just need to wait to let the gay-brainwashing take effect before we can expect to see these characters 50 feet tall and in full 3D glory. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the fact that superheroes are busting out of closets to let kids know that it’s okay to be gay (and pissing off conservatives in the process).