It’s a jarring moment when you first realise there aren’t any gay superheroes in the mainstream (i.e. an Avenger or some kind of -man with an animal or the word ‘super’ at the start of his name. There’s a couple of X-Men, and there were a couple of secondary characters implied to be such in Watchmen, but don’t get me started on whether or not Alan Moore’s nut jobs even count as superheroes). It’s a bit like realising that Obama is the first sitting US President to make public his support for legalising gay marriage: this doesn’t feel like a conversation we should still be having this far into the 21st century.
Kudos to DC Comics then, long one of America’s most iconic purveyors of men in short shorts and tight tights, right up there with Marvel and Kenneth Anger. Having rebooted its entire line of comics last September with ‘The New 52’ – ending every one of its existing titles and starting 52 of them from scratch at issue one, in large part to entice fans of superhero movies intimidated by years of complex backstory – the publishing powerhouse has taken the opportunity not only to make a quick buck, but also to break new ground: in the latest issue of Earth 2, available this week, the venerable Green Lantern is revealed to be gay, making him far and away the highest profile out superhero.
Of course, it’s the kind of move you can’t believe hasn’t been made already only until you see some of the vitriolic backlash from more conservative quarters, like the ever delightful hate group One Million Moms, whose statement on the outing and the forthcoming gay marriage in X-Men would be hilarious if they didn’t take it so seriously: ‘Children mimic superhero actions and even dress up in costumes to resemble these characters as much as possible. Can you imagine little boys saying, “I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?” This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models?’
Yeah! It’s Batman and Robin, not Batman and Steve! Also, yeah, that’s totally how being gay works, One Million Moms, you just flick a switch and all of a sudden you go from Tom Hiddleston to Paul Lynde.
Demonstrating that the group’s own superpower is either the most or least sophisticated grasp of irony ever known to humankind, the statement then goes on to describe the comics’ publishers as trying to ‘indoctrinate impressionable young minds’, ‘brainwash[ing] them into thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable’, even though ‘as Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin,’ and thereby providing a sterling example of exactly why gay men and women, both adult and not quite, still need visible, positive role models. Now, if you’ll excuse One Million Moms, they’re off to write their own good ol’-fashioned comic books, full of Christian values like not kissing a member of the same sex and beating the crap out of terrorists.