The Zhoosh! Brighton Blog
LGBT superheroes in mainstream comics in the past have been far and few between. Although there has always been LGBT characters appearing within the pages of DC’s or Marvel’s pages, they have never ran a storyline in which an LGBT character has taken centre stage. Instead they would be so deep in the closet that even Batman would find it difficult to unmask their true sexuality… but then Batman has had his own sexuality questioned on more than one occasion with his close relationship with Robin.
All this changed when Marvel eventually allowed the first openly gay superhero, Northstar, (birth name, Jean-Paul Beaubier) to come out, not that he had an easy ride. From his introduction back in 1979, his creator John Byrne has said it was always his intention that Northstar to be written as a gay character, but Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter made it a policy that there should be no open homosexual characters. So although Northstar’s sexuality was never spelt out, his lack of interest in the opposite sex was dealt with by saying his passion for professional skiing took up all of his time. When Northstar gained his superpowers, his sexual preference for a same sex partner was still ignored, even when his heterosexual peers where getting cosy with other superheroes or mere mortals left right and centre.
A glimmer of hope was to come in 1992 when writer, Scott Lobdell wrote a storyline that finally pulled Northstar out of the closet, but after the initial storyline there was no mention of Northstar’s sexuality. For a long period Northstar was the only ‘out’ gay character on the marvel books, but over time he has been joined by the likes of Batwoman, the Question, Wiccan and Hulking, but as any comic book fan will tell you superheroes happiness, particularly if the are LGBT, is never safe. And so came Northstar’s near kiss with death when it was rumoured that writer, Bill Mantlo had planned a story line to kill off Northstar by announcing that he had contacted AIDS. This storyline was dropped. Although Northstar did become ill and even died at one point, his body was resurrected and Northstar was given a plot-line where he adopts a baby with HIV, who dies soon after. This tragic turn of events gave writer, Scott Lobdell an opportunity for Northstar to finally come out about his sexuality and it also gave a voice to issues around HIV . This in turn led to much happier times for Northstar with artist Mike Perkins and writer Marjorie Liu giving him his true love in the shape of his long-term relationship with Kyle.
The good news of these two gay superheroes got even better when Northstar later proposed to Kyle, with their impending marriage to be revealed in the up and coming June 20th edition of Astonishing X-Men #51 with both Northstar and Kyle getting married in New York, to coincide with Barack Obama’s announcement of his support of gay marriage.
Rather unsurprisingly there has been a bit of a backlash on the comic forums from (mostly male) readers who can’t see why there should be room for an openly gay couple in their fantasy world. A more aggressive group of homophobes has come from the ultra right-wing American group, One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, who have urged their follows to send an email to both Marvel and DC to stop all plans on creating any more LGBT characters and for existing ones to be removed. Thankfully the support for the love Northstar and Kyle share has been embraced much harder than by those who wish to spin a positive expression of love into something ugly. So it would seem that both Marvel and DC are entering a new dawn and bringing more LGBT characters with storylines to rival their hetero superhero peers.