WE CAN BE HE­ROES

Why gay su­per­heroes are tak­ing over comics

Pride Life Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

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