WE CAN BE HEROES
Why gay superheroes are taking over comics
In the past decade the number of comic book characters who define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has grown at an exceptional rate. It’s not only with a number of secondary characters but also with characters who star in their own comic books. Characters such as John Constantine, Green Lantern’s Alan Scott, the X-Men’s Karma, Shatterstar and Rictor, and even Batwoman have all openly declared themselves as part of the LGBT spectrum.
DC Comics reached a huge milestone back in April of this year by introducing Alysia Yeoh, the roommate of Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, and who also happens to be a post-op male to female transsexual. Yeoh is the first openly transgender character within a mainstream superhero comic whose introduction came about from writer Gail Simone’s question of why hadn’t comic book writers done a better job at representing their own loyal readership?
It’s certainly a refreshing way to look at introducing LGBT themes into the written media and shows just how far we have come in such a short period of time. In the past changing a character’s sex by magic or a trick of their enemies has always been seen as a source of humour.
But why have mainstream superhero comics only just started to really push for such strong and identifiable LGBT characters?
This is mainly due to the fact that up until the 90s the Comics’ Code Authority, or CCA (an authority formed in response to public outcry over bloody and scary comic book content), wouldn’t allow LGBT characters within comic books as their code deemed LGBT themes to fall under depictions of sexual perversions or abnormalities. After bypassing the CCA for years, mainstream comic book publishers such as Marvel, DC and Archie Comics thankfully abandoned the Comics’ Code Authority altogether by 2011.
LGBT content is a relatively new concept within mainstream comic books with any attempt at exploring these themes taking the form of subtext or subtle hints such as the lesbian relationship between Marvel’s mutants Mystique and Destiny.
In the Marvel universe mutants have always been used as a metaphor for any kind of prejudice in the real world - be it a person’s race, gender or