Coming Out Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community and the struggles that they endure. Fictional worlds have helped push boundaries in expressing the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity through characters across many different media. While many areas of entertainment still have a long way to come, here we shine a much-warranted spotlight on the wonderful comic book characters who have openly come out as LGBTQ.
Alan Scott – Green Lantern
James Robinson, the writer behind the reboot, made the decision “without a moment of hesitation”. Obsidian — Scott’s son in the previous continuity — is also gay.
Bobby Drake – Iceman
Bobby Drake spent a long time deep in the closet — deep enough that he was mistaken as straight for most of his life and had numerous relationships with women.
In 2014, Brian Michael Bendis took over as writer for the X-Men books, bringing back all the X-Men as their teen selves. These teenage versions then travel forward in time to meet their current-day selves. Teen Bobby Drake has already accepted his sexuality, so when he meets his current-day self, he is confused as to why the older version isn’t gay. The present-day Bobby Drake opens up, saying he had been deeply closeted his entire life and is now able to fully embrace his true sexuality.
Kate Kane – Batwoman
A few of DC’s older fans might remember a time when the Caped Crusader was accused of being in a relationship with the Boy Wonder. With the Comics Code Authority closing in, DC created Batwoman/Kate Kane to allay any further rumours. The idea only lasted a few years before DC sidelined the character.
In an ironic twist of fate, Kate Kane is also a lesbian. After training in the US military but evicted for rumours of her involvement with another female student, Kane is much more than a simple copy of Batman. She understands being alone on the outside but not by choice. A few years ago, DC refused to allow Batwoman/Kate Kane to marry her partner Maggie Sawyer in panel. This led to the creative team behind the comic to leave.
Now, however, there’s a new creative team working on the Batwoman comics, led by a queer woman writer — a first for the title. And while she may not be getting married any time soon due to DC not wanting any of their lead characters getting hitched, Kate Kane remains out and proud.
Wade Wilson – Deadpool
Wade Wilson’s ‘Merc With A Mouth’ is actually pansexual. Pansexuality is being attracted to any gender or sexual identity with an individual’s personality meaning more than gender. This means they can be attracted to anyone.
Deadpool is not without criticism, as many accused the 2013 movie of ‘queer-baiting’. Considering that he once married an alien hippo, and has a full-on crush on Spider-Man and both the male and female Thor, I think we can assume that it was an accurate portrayal rather than anything else. Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan confirmed his 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 his Japanese wife, Itsu. After being raised by his mother’s killer to hate his father, Daken would go to any lengths to get what he wants. In addition to the normal claws and healing factor he inherited from his father, he 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. Even though they first met when Xavin was a ‘he’, Xavin soon became a ‘she’ upon discovering Karolina was a lesbian. This gender fluidity makes Xavin male, female and transgender all at once.
Constantine also mentions sleeping with men and women. Although his sexuality would be a key characteristic to focus on in other comics, the Constantine writers just rolled it in as another feature to an already complex character.
Renee Montoya – The Question
Fans of Gotham might know her as a detective working alongside Jim Gordon but Montoya has been around for a while. In the Half a Life series, Two-Face outs Renee as a lesbian. This leads to her deeply religious parents abandoning her, her colleagues ostracising her, and Two-Face framing her for murder and then kidnapping her. By the end of an already dark series, a corrupt cop then kills Renee’s detective partner, she quits in disgust and takes up drinking. The New 52 took a Montoya at the end of her rope and crafted her into the next Question.
Jean-Paul Beaubier – Northstar
Jean-Paul Beaubier — better known as Northstar — is perhaps the most famous gay superhero around. According to his creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne, they intended to write Northstar as gay from the beginning, but it was the editor-in-chief that kept his sexuality under wraps.
The Alpha Flight Northstar couldn’t come out of the closet until 1992 after which a huge amount of attention instantly focused on Marvel’s first openly gay character. Northstar became a shining beacon of hope and equality in the Marvel Universe. He made another splash when making an X-Men cover for his wedding to Kyle Jinadu.
Alysia Yeoh – Batgirl
Alysia Yeoh is the Singaporean roommate of Barbara Gordon who first appeared in Batgirl Vol 4.
While living together, Alysia notices how secretive Barbara is but understands that everyone has their secrets. One day, Alysia returns home to see Barbara standing over unconscious members of the Joker’s gang. After that, as well as other unusual events, Barbara opens up to her roommate, revealing much about herself, but not her secret identity at Batgirl. Alysia, in turn, tells Barbara her secret — that she is transgender. This was the first time a mainstream comic series featured a major transgender character.
Then, last year, Alysia also made history when she became the first mainstream transgender comic character to get married. [Colette Smith]
From the team’s formation in the mid-00s, Young Avengers was always an LGBTQ-friendly group. Founding members Wiccan and Hulkling were a couple from the start, and Young Avengers’ inclusiveness only grew from there. In the 2013 reboot by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, new members like Prodigy, Kid Loki, and Marvel Boy all expressed same-sex attraction in one form or another. The greatest addition of all was new team leader Miss America.
America Chavez, the Latin-American queer teen, lead the team with determination, ready to kick a hole in reality to save the day. She also didn’t take any crap — even from Loki — and Miss America has been unapologetic about her identity from the start. It was no surprise that America got the closing line of that volume of Young Avengers, pointing out that Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) was the only straight-identifying person on the team. Quite an outro for one of Marvel’s most gay books ever. [Henry Gilbert]
While there are many, many more characters I would love to share, the ones above should show it all — different is the new normal. It doesn’t matter who you are on the inside or the outside because people will accept you for who you are. LGBTQ might just be five little letters but they represent a lot of fantastic and fabulous people. Stay you and be beautiful.
Don’t just stop here. Check out these articles about LGBTQ representation throughout media.