Gay Comic Book Heroes

The following article was written by Justin L. Haines. My own comments are on the right side in the pink area. - Suzy MacNevin.

I picked Northstar for the image to the right because I wanted a more Canadian feel to this site. BTW, if you're female, live in Toronto and interested, I am single again... How long is up to you... :)

Northstar, one of very few gay superheroes.

For a long time, queers had no representation in mainstream comics only allusions and allegories.

Actually in the 1954, Batman was outted as the first queer in comics, at least from the perspective of Dr. Fredric Wertham. The elder psychiatrist launched a campaign against comics that in true McCarthy style ended up in congressional hearings. These hearings nearly destroyed the comic industry as sales plummeted. The few publishers that survived the attacks were forced into self-regulation through the adoption of the Comic Code Authority (comics to this day still bear the code's seal of approval). Most of Wertham's attacks focused on the fact that young people would emulate the crimes they saw being committed in the comics.

In Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent he made a special attack on Batman. Wertham devoted four pages to pointing out that Batman and Robin were gay and this would influence other young boys to take the same path to damnation. "They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler. It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together. The Batman type of story may stimulate children to homosexual fantasies." Wertham's claims were based on his experience working with queers at his clinic who sometimes fantasized switching places with Batman and his all male household. Please, most queers would have imagined a cute houseboy not some old troll butler like Alfred!

In the next decade, Batman's writers, artists, and publisher would try and prove Batman's heterosexuality. The most obvious responses was to create new female Bat characters to complete the family set. There was a Batwoman, a blond Batgirl, and the round out the family, a Bat-dog!

There was no mistaking Batwoman was in fact a woman since instead of a utility belt she carried a Bat-purse filled with useful crime fighting devices like lipstick cases filled with tear gas and a compact filled with sneezing powder. Storylines were not unlike situational comedies with the most memorable being the marriage of Batman and Batwoman, a scenario which turned out to be a dream that Robin had. Any shred of mistaken queerness was banished for another 15-20 years.

In the 1980's, queers still hadn't made it out of the closet, but we had the next best thing, the X-men. While none of the X-men actually queer but they mutants as a whole acted as a metaphor for queers. Let's go through the laundry list of mutant queer/connections:

  • 1. Mutants were stigmatized, hated, and feared by the general populace just for being born different

  • 2. They developed the "powers" at puberty when they were forced to accept their status as mutants

  • 3. Mutants were safest amongst their own kind and often sought out such living arrangements like at Professor X's mansion or in the "underground scene" of New York's Morlock separatists.

  • 4. Mutants suffer from the Legacy Virus, a deadly virus that targets mutants specifically and slowly causes them to have skin disfigurement (like KS lesions) and to waste away (not unlike AIDS)

  • 5. It was important for many storylines that the mutants keep their identities and true natures a secret in the mutant closet

  • 6. The occasionally were the targets for mutant bashing and Professor X was once beaten so badly he had to be hospitalized after an attack by some kids that he was teaching at the community college.

    The first truly queer mutant came out in the early 1990's when Northstar of Alpha Flight burst out of the closet. Northstar has maintained his queerness to this day as he just appeared in the current X-men titles and joked about it with his uptight and homophobic teammate from Brooklyn.

    Queers are almost to the point of being normalized in mainstream comics. In the latest stack of 20 or so comic titles I just brought home, five of the titles had primary or supporting queer characters. Wonder Woman's highly praised new artist/writer Phil Himenez is openly gay and is noted as having brought new life to the 60 year old heroine in articles appearing in the Washington Post and New York Times. In her latest issue, Wonder Woman was doing some volunteering for AIDS work with her ex-managers queer brother. Green Arrow, whose comic is a number one seller consistently, live with an older queer benefactor who pulled his homeless ass of the street. There have even been queer lead characters in Young Heroes in Love, Starman, Top Ten, Alpha Flight, and Legion of Super Heroes.

    The best queer couple, who even won a GLAAD award for positive representation of queers was Apollo and Midnighter from DC/Wildstorm's the Authority. The Authority is a team not unlike the Justice League with Apollo being modeled after Superman and Midnighter being modeled after Batman. They kick major ass and one storyline had Midnighter exacting some revenge on a super-baddie who beat up his boyfriend. Midnighter whipped out a device that looked like a bazooka crossed with a dildo with the implied intention of blasting the bad-guy's ass to kingdom come.

    We have come a long way since the 1950's closet Batman. Comic as with most mediums mirror the times. As queers are regular fixtures on Must-See TV, queers are filling our comic book imaginations and are more than victims. While we will never see Batman and Superman waking up in bed together, we have our own Apollo and Midnighter.

  • Okay, and now for my comments...


    I think there would be a much larger market out there for it. Afterall, even the straight guys would read it. As the resident bi person at this website, I could really go for a femme fatale bi comic book heroine.

    But what to call her? Super Dyke comes to mind... but thats a little too obvious. No, I think the best way to go about this is to come up with her super powers first...

    And NO, I am not talking about a Super Tongue either... Something normal... if you can call "super powers" normal... Superspeed would cause people to make jokes about it. So it has to be a power that would NOT give her a sexual advantage.

    Invulnerability... super strength... super dexterity... super toughness... super brains... psychic powers... foresight (spidey sense?)... super growth (giant woman!)... shrinking power... control of fire... water... earth... air... weather... magnetism... telekinesis... control of animals (like a druid)...

    Ah, druidism and witchcraft... now there's an avenue... but does she get to wear the spandex or leather tights? And with druidic orders we can fun with stuff going back King Arthur/etc. Dragons, gargoyles, the works.

    And did you know Morgana le Fay was historically King Arthur's sister? Its the fault of writers/etc or Disney-fying her story and turning her into an evil witch. I like the idea of her being druid... maybe even a dyke.

    How about a druid living in modern Toronto? Afterall, why should every superheroe be in New York? Superman is in Metropolis New York, Batman is in Gotham City New York, Spiderman, the X-Men... etc ect... Superman was originally meant to be Canadian. He's such a Canadian goodie-two-shoes.

    Okay, so Druid girl from Toronto needs a name... she can control plants and animals... works as a veternarian as her part time job (there is far too many reporter superheroes) and she owns a small ranch just outside of Toronto where she raises horses... near the town of Erin.

    And for "bad guys"... it will be super-villains... some can be dykes or straight or whatever... but most of them will be ex-druids that have gone bad... druids with pet snakes... that sort of thing...

    Hey, this girl should be Irish-Canadian. Red hair... maybe even a little Irish accent. Now whats a good Irish name... Meghan O'Wilde maybe?

    Okay, this is getting fun... now if only I knew how to draw my super heroine... I've never drawn a comic character in my life... If anyone loves this idea and can actually draw, please steal this idea from me and make it a reality.

    -Suzy MacNevin
    May 30th, 2003.
    Toronto, Canada

    PS. If you do know of any lesbian or bi comic book heroes, please email me: