Comic books have always been a great place for expression and progressivism. Just take the internationally recognized—and popular—X-Men, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the early 1960’s. The X-Men are often credited with being a direct commentary on the LGBT community and the HIV/AIDs epidemic of the 1970s. Many of the parallels between the mutants of the X-Men universe and the lives of the gay men and women of the 70s and 80s can be found within the glossy pages of these comics. Mutants were ostracized, hunted, and abused for something outside their control in much the same way that the LGBT community was. And, like the LGBT community, the separation of mutants who could conceal their powers from those that could not is very similar to those that could conceal the deviation of their sexuality from the heteronormative and those that could not. With such amazing concepts lurking in the background of sensational comic books, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see that many of our beloved and well-known superheroes are coming out as gay in modern story lines. Take a look at five of the most well known superheroes and the storylines that made them gay:
Iceman (Gay, Marvel Comics, All New X-Men)
The lovable snowman turned icy super-mutant, Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman is not only one of the founding members of the original X-Men but, as of the newest series, also gay. In a twist where the original X-Men time-hop, we discover via Jean-Grey’s psychic powers that Iceman has been hiding his sexuality since adolescence. Essentially giving the cold shoulder to his feelings and denying himself true happiness.
Batwoman (Lesbian, DC Comics, [All current story lines])
Originally created as a means of trying to generate a love interest for Batman to dispel all the rumors about him being gay, the irony comes full circle when Batwoman comes out as a crime-fighting lesbian. In the internationally praised Injustice: Gods Among Us storyline she even comes a batarang’s edge away from taking down Wonder Woman after the Amazonian princess kills her lover.
Colossus (Gay, Marvel Comics, Ultimate X-Men)
Though Colossus was only gay in a single timeline (so far) and with a love interest and plot that most (if not all) would consider to be stereotypical at best, he still makes the list for being one of the most hypermasculine X-Men. Aside from the Wolverine, few X-Men can boast being so manly that they’re literally made of metal. Having such a conventionally masculine figure depicted as a gay man speaks volumes about the iron will of progressivism in comics.
Catwoman (Bisexual, DC Comics [All current story lines])
Alright, so Michelle Pfeiffer in a rubber cat suit, Halley Barry in torn up strips of leather, or Anne Hathaway straddling a motorcycle might be making a not so great statement about how we regard women in our society but the comics have a very different take on Catwoman. She’s not deranged (fully) or a total sex kitten. She is, however, one of the few characters whose sexuality has been fluid from the start.
Green Lantern (Gay, DC Comics Earth 2, Earth 2 World’s End)
Saving the best for last (and arguably the most recent) is the Earth 2 timeline Green Lantern. In the first couple issues of the comic we see Alan Scott’s boyfriend dying and Alan then being granted the powers of Green Lantern. Unlike the Green Lantern of other universes, Alan gets his powers from the green power of the Earth. Making him not only the guardian of the entire planet but also the most powerful one. For newer comic readers Alan Scott continues to shine the way for LGBT representation.