Young Justice might become more visibly diverse when it returns with its third season. During its first two seasons, the animated series wasn’t allowed to portray characters as LGBTQ. Despite this limitation, the series’ writers intended for a number of characters to be non-heterosexual. Now, season three will have the opportunity to openly acknowledge its characters’ different sexualities.
Via Twitter, series co-creator Greg Weisman stated that the previous embargo on having visible LGBTQ characters is no longer in effect. As a result, Young Justice may be able to increase its characters’ discernible diversity. It’s unclear whether Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, or another entity behind the series’ production was responsible for this embargo in the first place. Nevertheless, this is another reason to look forward to the series’ triumphant return.
Young Justice Already Has LGBTQ Characters
Fans of Young Justice might not know that the series already has LGBTQ characters. The problem is that until now, the show hasn’t been able to acknowledge that diversity. A prime example is Marie Logan, the mother of Garfield (Beast Boy). Even though Marie received confirmation as a queer character, her story transpired in a roundabout manner.
In the final issue of Young Justice‘s comic series, Queen Bee uses her powers of persuasion on Marie and compels her to commit suicide. According to Greg Weisman, Queen Bee’s powers have a chemical basis and only affect individuals who are sexually attracted to women. Thus, the fact that Queen Bee’s powers worked on Marie indicates that Marie is queer. Of course, the problem is that this wasn’t identifiable in the story. Only fans who keep up with Weisman’s comments were aware that Marie is queer.
To be clear, I’m not criticizing Weisman. As a gay man, I’m very happy that Weisman and co-creator Brandon Vietti created LGBTQ characters for Young Justice. Instead, it’s frustrating that Warner Bros. thought it prudent to restrict the series’ ability to tell inclusive stories. I’m glad that Weisman, Vietti, and their team can now do so. It means that Young Justice can contribute to the cultural conversation even more so than before.
For a long time, animated series traditionally excluded LGBTQ characters. Fortunately, TV shows are changing. The Legend of Korra is one of the most subversive animated series in recent memory, and it ended with Korra and Asami Sato embarking on a relationship together. Similarly, the series finale of Gravity Falls featured Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland admitting their love for each other. Outside the TV sphere, How to Train Your Dragon 2 had Gobber the Belch tacitly acknowledge that he’s non-heterosexual.
Young Justice has many possibilities to increase the visibility of its LGBTQ characters. For the current characters who haven’t yet acknowledged their orientations onscreen, there are ways that the series can disclose them, while also normalizing (and not exoticizing) them. Supergirl has done an excellent job with Alex Danvers‘s coming out story by making it part of her personal growth. Perhaps Young Justice can use Alex’s progression as a model for a new or existing character in season three.
Beyond Young Justice, DC Comics is making strides in increasing its representation of minorities. Recently, DC Rebirth reinterpreted Jackson Hyde (their version of Young Justice‘s Aqualad) as a gay teenager, and he will join the Teen Titans comic series in March 2017. Moreover, Batwoman is a leading character in DC’s brand who happens to be lesbian. And next month, she will receive her second solo monthly series.
The bottom line is that representation matters. Stories need to have inclusive characters in order for audiences to connect with them. I’m confident that Young Justice will prioritize representation when it returns with its third season.