Hi there true believers and welcome back to Haley’s Circus! This week I’m giving you something a little different, but special non the less. The narrow minded law that has recently passed in Russia made me want to talk about some of the steps the comic book industry has done to promote equality and equal rights. Specifically the rights of those in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered community.
In early June 2012, DC announced that a long time and well known character would be revealed to be gay in an issue later that month. Fans were racking their brains trying to figure out who it would be. A few front runners were evident and many nerd bets were taken. For the record I thought it would be one of the Robins, specifically Night Wing. However, in the end it turned out to be Alan Scott who was the first Green Lantern.
Even before this however, way way back in the early 90’s, Northstar a character from Marvel’s Canadian super team Alpha Flight also came out as gay. Keep in mind that during that time equal rights for LGBT community was not nearly as strong as it is now. Marvel pushed the envelope even further when Northstar and his partner got married in Astonishing X-Men #51.
While this theme is relatively new in the world of the big publishers (DC, Marvel and Image), gay themes have been used for years by independent titles in an almost underground equality movement. Even newspaper comic strips started having openly gay characters. For Better or For Worse writer Lynn Johnston received actual death threats when he wrote a strip with Lawrence coming out to his mother in a 1993.
During the San Diego comic con this year, all star writer Gail Simone has confirmed that Barbara Gordon’s (aka Batgirl) will new roommate is a transgendered woman. When asked about the creation Gail Simone said “And it just hit me: Why is this so impossible? Why in the world can we not do a better job of representation of not just humanity, but also our loyal audience?”
The addition of so many LGBT characters and themes has the potential to bring much more tolerance to our world. I think it’s pretty great that children will read these comic books, with some of their favourite characters being openly gay or transgendered and they will grow up knowing that it’s perfectly fine and it’s not a big deal. I also think it’s really sad that it needs to be done. In the end, I have only scratched the surface of this topic. There are dozens of openly gay characters and themes across a myriad of titles and publishers. If you were to do some research of your own you would be blown away by how much the comic book industry has done for equal rights.
Thanks for reading true believers and we’ll see you next week.