Unlike other mediums, comics have represented a diversity of human sexuality and gender for decades. From Deadpool to Batgirl, these are some of our favorite LGBTQ characters.
Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
James Robinson, the writer behind the reboot, made this decision “without a moment of hesitation.” Obsidian, Scott’s son in the previous continuity, is also a gay man.
Iceman (Bobby Drake)
In this storyline, teenage versions of the X-Men travel forward in time to meet their present-day selves. Teen Bobby Drake accepted his sexuality and was confused to learn that adult Iceman had not. The present-day Bobby Drake admits that he had been deeply closeted his entire life and embraces his true sexuality.
Older DC fans might remember a time when the Caped Crusader was rumored to be in a relationship with the Boy Wonder. With the Comics Code Authority closing in, DC created Batwoman/Kate Kane to allay those rumors. This idea lasted only a few years before DC sidelined her character.
In an ironic twist, Katherine Kane returned in New Earth and was revealed to be a lesbian. Kane trained with the US military but was evicted for rumors of her involvement with another female student. When DC would not allow Batwoman to marry her partner Maggie Sawyer and the creative team behind the comic left in protest.
Times have changed and there is now a new creative team, led by a queer woman writer, working on the Batwoman comics. Kate Kane might not be getting married anytime soon, but not be because DC will not allow it.
Deadpool is not without his critics and some have accused the 2013 movie of “queer-baiting.” Considering that Wilson once married an alien hippo and has a full-on crush on Spider-Man and both the male and female Thor, we can assume this was the filmmakers’ attempt to represent Wilson’s romantic past. Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan confirmed Wilson’s pansexuality in December 2013 and co-creator Fabian Nicieza expanded further in 2015:
Deadpool is whatever sexual inclination his brain tells him he is in THAT moment. And then the moment passes. https://t.co/neWW89OMeP
— Fabian Nicieza (@FabianNicieza) August 12, 2015
Daken is the son of Wolverine and Itsu. Raised by his mother’s killer and taught to hate his father, Daken goes to any lengths to get what he wants. The antihero inherited his father’s claws and healing abilities, but Daken also possesses the power to produce pheromones to manipulate people’s emotions. Daken takes full advantage of this ability and often seduces targets of any gender to achieve his goals.
As a Skrull, Xavin can assume any form or gender and switches between the two human ones with ease. The constant changes — coupled with not knowing their birth gender — make for one of the deepest and most complex characters in Marvel when it comes to gender identity.
Xavin was betrothed to Karolina Dean as part of a political strategy; and even though Xavin was a ‘he’ when they first met, Xavin became a ‘she’ upon discovering Karolina was a lesbian. This gender fluidity means that Xavin is male, female and transgender—all at once.
Constantine is one of the best and grittiest anti-heroes around. Something of Zatanna meets Batman, Constantine uses magic powers and a bit of con-artistry to defeat the demons of Hell. He also sleeps with both men and women.
Although John’s sexuality became a focus in other comics, the Constantine writers treat it as nothing more than one aspect of a complex character.
The Question (Renee Montoya)
Fans of Gotham might know her as a detective working alongside Jim Gordon, but Montoya has been around much longer. In the Half a Life series, Two-Face outs Renee as a lesbian. This revelation leads her deeply religious parents to abandon her before Two-Face kidnaps and frames her for murder. By the end of an already dark series, Montoya quits the force after a corrupt cop kills her detective partner. The New 52 took a Montoya at the end of her rope and crafted her into the next Question.
Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier)
Jean-Paul Beaubier might be the most famous gay superhero around. Creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne intended to write Northstar as gay from the beginning, but the book’s editor-in-chief kept the superhero’s sexuality under wraps.
The Alpha Flight Northstar came out of the closet in a 1992 event which brought a huge amount of attention to Marvel’s first openly gay character. He made another splash when making an X-Men cover for his wedding to Kyle Jinadu. Northstar became a shining beacon of hope and equality in the Marvel Universe.
Alysia Yeoh is the Singaporean roommate of Barbara Gordon who first appeared in Batgirl Vol 4.
One day, Alysia returns home to see Barbara standing over unconscious members of the Joker’s gang. After this and some other unusual events, Barbara opens up to her roommate and reveals almost all but her secret identity at Batgirl. Alysia tells Barbara a secret of her own—that Alysia is transgender. This was the first time that a mainstream comic series featured a major transgender character.
Alysia also made history when she became the first mainstream transgender character to get married.
From its formation in the mid-’00s, Young Avengers was always an LGBTQ-friendly group. Founding members Wiccan and Hulkling started out as a couple, and the teams’ inclusiveness only grew from there. In the 2013 reboot, new members like Prodigy, Kid Loki, and Marvel Boy all expressed same-sex attraction in one form or another. But the greatest addition of all was new team leader Miss America.
America Chavez, a queer Latin-American teen, lead the team with determination and was unapologetic about her identity from the start. In the closing line of that volume of Young Avengers, she even points out that Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) was the only straight-identifying person on the team.
There are many, many more characters to share, but the ones above are some favorite examples. LGBTQ are five little letters but they represent a lot of fantastic and fabulous people.