Northstar, Midnighter, Green Lantern, and now Iceman. In the past few years in particular, a whole slew of superheroes have come out as gay. Why? With most of these characters having been around for as long as they have, they need to have new, exciting storylines to keep their fans interested. And what better way to do that than for the writers to pick something that’s current and trendy? Being gay certainly seems to fit that bill. At least, everybody’s talking about it from marriage equality to sidewalk safety.
But what does this actually mean for the gay community? For the LGBTQ community as a whole? Take a look and see the pros and cons of having gay superheroes!
Gay Men Now Have Hero Status
The jokes have been around for a while now: colorful costumes, tight spandex, having “partnerships” with other men. Sounds pretty gay, right? But now that superheroes are starting to come out, this trope has started moving from poking fun to being an honorable fact. Instead of being portrayed as evil, pathetic, or unfortunate, gay men are becoming role models. Not just any role models, but heroes. People kids look up to when they want to emulate their favorite characters in stories and comic books. With our media history as negative as it has been, this is a powerful turn of events for the gay community.
Gay Men Are Becoming Normalized
With our very heroes starting to represent the gay community, gay men in general are that much closer to appearing completely normal. You know, falling in love, getting married, divorcing, saving the world. The usual stuff. But this normalization is either good or bad depending on who you ask. For some guys, they feel it’s great to finally get represented in any facet straight people are, to further show that they’re not monsters. On the other hand, some guys hate the idea of being normalized since “normal” is usually categorized as “heterosexual.” And if a homosexual is now viewed as heterosexuals are, is he still homosexual?
Mainstream Media is Listening to its Audiences
The writers of DC, Marvel, and other famous comic book brands could have chosen all different types of new scenarios to introduce their characters to in order to keep stories fresh and interesting. But several of them have chosen the gay route. This is because money talks and writers want to write what they believe is going to sell. In other words, mainstream media is listening to its audiences, and its audiences are demanding more gay representation. This is great news for the gay community because 1) gay representation is becoming important even for straight people, and 2) the push for representation is so powerful these days that even the biggest corporate people are listening. That’s some pretty impressive stuff!
It Promotes Bisexual Erasure
Now we’re hitting one of the bigger problems. Bisexual erasure is essentially when the bisexual community is overlooked or ignored, either accidentally or on purpose. In the event of superheroes coming out as gay, bi erasure is promoted because the bi topic rarely comes up. These characters, despite often having longstanding, serious relationships with women in the past, almost always come out as gay, not bi. Even with characters such as Iceman, the writers have tried to combat the bi erasure issue by simply denying that it was their intention. But as we all know, bigotry doesn’t have to be active in order to be bigotry. It’s an unfortunate turn of events and shows how important it is to truly consider all facets of LGBTQ life in order to create characters that are accurately portrayed.
So who’s your favorite LGBTQ superhero? Do you think them being out is a victory or a loss for the community? Tell us in the comments!