Monday, 21 May 2012

Why Superman should be gay (or at least bi-sexual)



(A slightly revised version of this article can be found here, on World of Superheroes.....)

At this weekend's Kapow comic convention, DC Comics' co-publisher, Dan Didio announced that DC would be switching the sexual orientation of a previously straight character and making them “one of our most prominent gay characters.” DC already have a number of LGBT characters, for example Batwoman, Apollo, Midnighter, Scandal Savage and a brand new member of the Teen Titans named Bunker. But this will be the first time, with the exception of a few minor characters such as Pied Piper and Captain Stingaree, that an established character's sexual orientation has been switched.

I realise that what I'm about to suggest will never happen, but I think that this established character should be Superman.

I recently discussed with a friend the notion that Marvel Comics' Captain America should be revealed as gay, a suggestion based on an article featured on ComicsAlliance.com. He argued quite persuasively that changing a character's established sexual identity just to be progressive sends the wrong message and is not a good way to embrace tolerance. He argued that this is applicable to both Captain America and Superman. I'm inclined to agree with him regarding Cap and I'd likewise agree regarding Superman were it not for one thing. The New 52.

Superman has been pretty well established as straight. Over the years he's been shown to be romantically involved with (or at least attracted to) a number of female characters, including Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Lyra Lerrol, Wonder Woman, Maxima and Cat Grant. In the late '80s, comics legend and pervert of note John Byrne went out of his way to establish Superman as sexually active with female partners. He wrote and drew stories that strongly implied that Superman had sexual encounters (while being mind controlled!) with a villain named Amazing Grace (Adventures of Superman Vol 1 #426, 1987) and a fellow hero named Big Barda (Action Comics Vol 1 #592, 1987). He also made much of Superman's strong attraction to Wonder Woman, even going as far as to have Superman describe to her "an intense dream" he'd had about her! (Action Comics Vol.1 #600, 1988)

In Superman: The Wedding Album (1996) this interpretation of Superman went on to leave his "intense dreams" behind him and married the love of his life, Lois Lane. He remained completely devoted to her from then onwards. In Action Comics Vol.1 #761 (2000) Superman found himself trapped for centuries in a magical dimension fighting monsters alongside Wonder Woman and the Norse Gods. Gradually his memories of Lois fell away, how she looked, her smell, the sound of her voice, even her name. But his intense love for her remained and he never succumbed to temptation and never began a sexual relationship with Wonder Woman, his only female companion in that dimension.

So not only is this interpretation of Superman straight, he's also married and hopelessly devoted to his wife. But this version of Superman isn't around any more. Last September most of the DC Universe, including Superman, was revamped and every issue was relaunched from Number One. These 52 relaunched comics were dubbed the New 52. In Action Comics Vol. 2 #1 (2011) we met a brand new younger version of Superman who had never married, or even dated Lois Lane. This new Superman has certainly been established as being attracted to Lois. In Superman Vol. 3 #1 (2011) we see a forlorn Clark Kent sent packing from Lois' door while Lois entertains another gentleman. But DC Comics have no plans to get Clark and Lois together again. In fact Superman editor Matt Idelson has stated;
"Clark and Lois are NOT inevitable, and in fact it isn’t going to happen, at least while I’m on watch duty. There will be romance of varying degrees in both characters’ lives in the months to come, but not with each other."
It does seem then that DC have no plans to reunite Clark and Lois any time soon and would like to explore story lines involving alternate avenues of romance for Clark. I think it's fair to say however that these romances aren't likely to last long term. I believe that, despite what Idelson says, the attraction between Superman and Lois is a core part of the Superman myth and if DC ever decide that Superman is going to settle down with someone again, it will probably be Lois. But in the meantime it does seem that Clark is going to be dating.

So why not have him dating both men and women?

Other than Lois, we haven't really seen any evidence of what type of person New 52 Clark is attracted to, so why the heck not? Don't get me wrong, I don't expect Superman to suddenly become really promiscuous, dating multiple characters at the same time. But DC obviously want him to have a few romances. Why not make a few of them men? After all, a storyline featuring Clark having relationship trouble with a male partner because of his career as Superman would be a lot more tasteful than some mind controlled, alien nookie with Amazing Grace.

So I've argued, "why NOT make Superman bi-sexual", but I haven't really said why he should be. Well quite simply because of the message it would send. We all know that attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people all over the world are depressingly and dangerously backwards, even in supposedly progressive countries. Right now, all over the world people are being marginalised, bullied and even killed because of their sexuality. Religious and political leaders are still debating whether two people of the same sex who love each other should be allowed to marry when the very idea that it's even any of their business in the first place is absurd.

The fact is, some people are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender and it's not immoral, it's not wrong and it's not a punchline to a big joke. What better way to say "It's okay to be gay" than have one of the biggest cultural icons in the whole world have a romantic relationship with another man, and it's no big deal! Superman dating a man would be a cultural milestone. It would be looked back on in history as one of the moments when attitudes to sexuality began to change for the better. Superman is that powerful an icon. He can literally change the world! And there's never been a better time to do it than now, with the New 52.

Of course, I don't believe this will happen. I honestly don't believe that DC Comics will reveal that Superman is gay or bi-sexual. But I do believe that the fact that they are switching the sexual orientation of an established character is still a very positive thing. The trick now will be sticking to their guns. Whatever character comes out of the closet must stay out. This issue is far too important to sweep under the carpet with a cosmic do-over.

And eventually with any luck, we'll live in a world where characters in popular culture, as well as real life people will be straight, gay or transgender and it won't be an issue and we can all be spared self righteous fanboys like me getting on their internet high horse!

61 comments:

  1. Personally, I believe comics shouldn't even go there. Let the readers think what they like about a character's orientation, but it should never be stated. For example, Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen: If a gay reader wanted to believe that Supes and Jimmy had something 'extra' going on, he could - but it was in his or her own mind, not the comic itself. That's the way it should stay.

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  2. Fair enough, but if a character's sexual orientation is out of bounds then we wouldn't be able to have any romantic relationships involving that character, gay or straight. That's a big storytelling avenue to close off.

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  3. Not necessarily. When I said comics "shouldn't go there", I meant down that particular (gay) avenue. You could still have straight romantic relationships as they've been established from day one and are still accepted as the 'norm' amongst the majority, but gay readers would be free (if they want) to assume that the characters may have "dabbled" in same-sex romances at some stage. It would and should neither be confirmed or denied in the comics 'though. I'm all against thinly-veiled experiments at social engineering in what is still essentially a medium for kids.

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  4. Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people are a part of society. I don't think it's about social engineering it's about reflecting society. And although it's mostly a medium for kids I don't necessarily think that it's a problem for children to be exposed to gay relationships, after all, there's nothing inherently wrong or pornographic about a same sex couple.

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  5. The fact that you refer to straight relationships as normal implies an abnormality in gay relationships, which speaks volumes. You're not actually suggesting that readers should make their own minds up about whether a character is gay or straight. You're suggesting the only two options are heterosexual, or deeply closeted and in denial, never showing their actual sexuality. Which is no choice at all, in reality.

    Being gay isn't about dabbling. It's not a game, or a fetish someone grows out of. It's who they are, an intrinsic part of their identity. If the big gay conspiracy is socially engineering people into being gay, then they're not doing a very good bloody job at it if their big master plan is to create one or two gay superheroes.

    No-one's socially engineering anything. No-one's thinly-veiling anything. All that's being asked is for a few simple, compassionate, humane steps that cost nothing, to make the comics medium a little more inclusive, to not alienate innocent people just for being who they are. Any talk of social engineering or sinister agenda is just conspiratorial clap trap.

    As for it occurring in a kids' medium, comics haven't been a kids' medium in a long, long time. In the meantime, over the past seven or eight years, Doctor Who, which IS still a programme for kids, has introduced gay and bisexual characters quite openly. And you know what, Western culture has yet to collapse into one great big pink gay orgy.

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  6. Madeley, what speaks volumes is your assumption that you know what I'm thinking. I used the word "norm" in inverted commas, firstly because that is probably how the majority of people still regard it (whether you like it or not) and also because straight relationships have been represented in various media for countless years - in that sense it is regarded as "the norm" - because it's nothing new or anything to get excited about.

    On the subject of gay relationships being openly represented in the same way, that is a relatively recent development - one that is controversial and which leads to a difference of opinion. On one side are those prepared to tolerate, accept, or even embrace gay relationships on the grounds that what goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults is nobody's business but theirs (and I'd agree with that), and on the other side are those who - for whatever reason - religious, cultural, suspicion, fear, disgust, etc - reject it out of hand. The point being that opinion is divided on the matter.

    That being the case, I don't feel that "comics", especially ones dealing in the adolescent theme of superheroes, should come down on one side of a controversial issue which is still being debated. To do so is to indulge in the politically correct exercise of trying to sway public opinion on the matter, by representing something as being accepted on a wider scale than it actually is.

    By preserving the status quo, both sides are free to interpret their heroes' sexual orientation according to their own leanings. Superman has a "girl friend" (two words) and a "best pal" - he could either be straight, gay or bi - it all depends on how the reader is prepared to interpret things. However, straight relationships have always been portrayed in comics and other media, so there's nothing controversial about it. Gay relationships on the other hand are still regarded as being controversial, so consequently should not be presented as if they're not. To do so is to distort the truth of the matter.

    And to change the orientation of a previously straight character is almost as outrageous as trying to turn a gay person straight. Would you be happy with that?

    And Paul - I don't think it's about reflecting society - I think it's more about trying to shape society according to one side's point of view. (And a minority side at that.)

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  7. ‎Paul: I was really interested in the reaction to your post by people who sometimes read comics, but don't get into it like we do. I asked some friends, and this one comes from one of my best friends (who happens to be gay, for whatever that's worth adding to this conversation). I'll have to do this in two parts because it's long.

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    At first my initial reaction was that it simply wouldn't work. As I thought about why my gut tells me that a gay Superman would be a bad idea, the main reason that comes to mind is that it simply wouldn't be believable. It would come off as a gimmick and publicity stunt–much more so than if it was a less well-known character. But this is Superman, Man of Steel, and while yes it would convey a message that "gay = okay", such a message would be garbled with the very fact that this is Superman, and not some minor superhero who pales in significance, both in terms of the DC universe and DC revenue.

    Though while I think that this "message" that a gay Superman would convey is no doubt intended for all audiences and readers, I cannot help but think of the gay, closeted teen out there for whom the message is perhaps most acute. And what would this message be, exactly, coming in the form of Superman with his abundance of confidence and robust self-esteem? Not exactly a relatable character for a kid who gets bullied in school and suffers from the kind of emotional isolation that seems so common. I don't mean to over-generalize the experience of gay youth these days, but it certainly isn't a frolic-in-the-daisies experience that an idyllic Superman would undoubtedly portray. Let's face it, a writer could try to paint a new, gay Superman as growing up with all the adolescent angst, confusion, and ostracism that would make the character more empathetic to this particular demographic, but in doing so it would take away what makes Superman, well, Superman. This isn't a character that bathes in vulnerability, and trying to force him into such a mold would diminish the kind of integrity and example that is exactly the reason I think people still read the comics for.

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  8. So basically it boils down to either keeping Superman the way he is–plus the making out with boys–or reshape his personality and background to fit his new found sexuality. The former comes across as disingenuous; whereas the latter just doesn't jive with who Superman really is. I think the same holds true for anyone minority classification, and that writers shouldn't simply toggle a characters race/gender/sexuality or whatnot simply to earn diversity points. Making a white character black just "because we can" pays a disservice to the minority experience unless such a shift truly does come with a genuine understanding and respect for how the character's race impacts his or her personality and interactions with others. In a similar fashion, I somehow doubt that many writers today could simply go beyond making a simple checkbox-gay character. Crush on male friend in high school? Check. Beat up bullies with new found superpowers? Check. Reconciled with formerly homophobic parents? Check. I fear that pulling such an experiment on Superman, of all characters, would misfire horribly. That doesn't mean to say that there aren't any great writers who could pull it off–I'm sure there is amazing talent out there up to the challenge. But it's not an easy task, and the risks are so much bigger when working on Superman as opposed to a lesser known character, that it simply doesn't seem worthwhile to try.

    And yet, I do think it is a great step for them to actually consider making an existing character gay, provided it is done tastefully and with the right character (i.e., not Superman). Here's hoping that DC can use this as an opportunity to move beyond over-the-top flashiness and stereotypes (I'm thinking Northstar) and actually be able to maturely depict the dynamic between sexuality and superhero-ness which, to my knowledge, is not a subject that really has been tackled in comics today–or at least not with male characters. In short, I have no idea who it should be… maybe Aquaman?

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  9. That's it, Paul. I might chime in with some thoughts myself. I'm still trying to figure out where I stand (you pretty much know my preliminaries)

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  10. @Kid: I get where you're coming from but I don't think being gay is some contentious difference of opinion held by a minority, it's who a large section of the world are.

    On reflection I'll admit that the fact that I'm suggesting Superman should be bi-sexual means, yes, I am suggesting something that's a bit more than reflecting society. But I see it as a chance to do something with an iconic character that will help move attitudes forward. I suppose you could argue that's social engineering but it's not how I'd put it. Normally I'd agree that turning a straight character gay would be daft. But the New 52 has presented us with a unique opportunity. We have a version of Superman who so far has not been established as straight in the way that the previous version had.

    @Duy: It's a very good point. I think emotional isolation and bullying is definitely something that can and has been explored with the character. He's Superman but he's also Clark Kent. I don't necessarily think that explorations of adolescent angst, confusion, and ostracism are something that would change the character. Indeed, it's possible to argue that Clark Kent is the perfect character to explore these themes with in that he's the perfect example of a person who while growing up realised there was something about himself that others may perceive as "different".

    While Superman was raised on Earth he is from the futuristic and (sometimes) idyllic society of Krypton. He's an inspirational figure who wants to show humanity what they could be ("They are a good people Kal El, they wish to be etc.."). I think this is where I was coming from with it. The idea that we could show that someone could be gay or bi-sexual and it's not always about angst or struggle and in an ideal world (the world Superman strives for) it shouldn't be. But as I said I believe that themes of angst and confusion could also be explored, particularly with a young Clark Kent in Smallville.

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  11. Kid, I didn't "assume" I knew what you were "thinking", I "responded" to what you "actually wrote." You will also note that putting quotes around "words" doesn't change their meaning, and "norm" with quotes or without implies "abnorm".

    As for the idea that this is some kind of debate, that things will eventually come down on one side or another, I'm afraid that neither you nor I nor anyone else get to debate about who people are. We don't get to debate about whether they get to be gay, anymore than we get to debate the colour of people's skin. For comics not to portray gay people is to make a deliberate choice not to represent a set of people who actually exist. For what it's worth, that's not staying neutral, that's siding with bigots. And just because bigots are allegedly in the majority, doesn't stop them from being bigots.

    Comparing changing a gay character's orientation to changing a straight character's orientation is a false analogy. There are hardly any gay superheroes. There are hundreds of straight ones. If we were being generous, I would say there are currently two prominent gay superheroes, and it IS pretty generous to call Batwoman and Northstar prominent. To make one of them straight would be to literally half the higher profile representation of a set of people you are adamant is a minority. To make one straight character gay is a tiny thing in the greater scheme of things, a small drop in the ocean to be a little more compassionate, to make things just a little more tolerant, and a little fairer. These things are not the same, and it's disingenuous to suggest they are.

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  12. I fail to see how kids reading about gay people would be a bad thing.

    They can read about swamp monsters, blue-skinned aliens, purple aliens with big foreheads, and whatnot, but gays should be off limits? How does that make sense?

    And adolescent genres should absolutely be where it should be addressed, as it is often during adolescence that people first face these issues.

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  13. I agree with Paul and Madeley.

    Kid - excluding gay characters IS coming down on one side of the argument, the side that tells young LGBT people that they are not normal and should keep their true selves hidden away. Sexuality is part of who people are. It is not a choice. If it makes some people uncomfortable, it may be that what they need is to be shown that it is a part of every day life and not something to be afraid of. To use your own analogy of changing the colour of someone's skin (although, I don't think this is the same thing at all), would you argue that you shouldn't do that because some people are racist?

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  14. Megan, I didn't use the analogy of changing someone's skin colour - that was someone else. See, that's the trouble when people are in pursuit of an agenda - they don't read what is written. Madeley, putting a word in quotes may not change the meaning of it (whoever said it did?), but it suggests the context in which it is used. And whether you like it or not, straight relationships have traditionally been regarded as "the norm" - as in the way things are usually done, certainly as far as comics are concerned. My comments are made in direct response to Paul's proposition that Superman should be "turned" gay ir bi-sexual in order to "help move attitudes forward" - to make it seem more acceptable in other words. (Which implies that it isn't.) To me, that's nothing more than an attempt at social engineering in pursuit of a specific agenda to bring society's thinking into accord with another group's point of view.

    Nobody is suggesting that comics should be anti-gay, and to suggest that not to focus on the issue is siding with bigots (definition of a bigot: anyone who holds an opinion different to one's own) is nonsense. If you're arguing that someone's sexual orientation shouldn't matter, that it's not important, etc., then it shouldn't matter to you (or anyone) that most superhero characters are straight (or presumed to be) - it should be a "non-issue". Paul's (probably tongue-in-cheek) proposition however, makes an issue of it in order to influence the thinking of those who may not necessarily take the same view as others on this page.

    And Madeley, my analogy is not "false" as you suggest. It fulfills its purpose adequately. Just as you would resent attempts to turn someone straight (real or fictional, I didn't restrict it to comics), people would resent Superman being turned gay - regardless of the reasons behind their discontent.

    Duy, some gays may be put out by being equated with "swamp monsters, blue-skinned aliens, purple aliens with big foreheads, and whatnot", but these things are fictional - they do not exist. Gays, on the other hand, do. What I'm suggesting is that gays are perfectly capable of enjoying comics as they are - unless you're suggesting that they can't enjoy a Superman comic because the main character doesn't share their orientation? And Megan, I don't agree that not focusing on gay characters is coming down on one side of the argument - it's merely staying out of the argument. An argument which is controversial with at least two sides to it, and which really should have no place in comicbooks aimed primarily at juveniles. Not everywhere has to be an arena in which battles are fought for the hearts and minds of people on any given issue, you know. The most enjoyable comics of the last 50 years were probably early '60s Marvel comics. None of these issues were addressed then, and I'm pretty sure gays enjoyed them just as much as straights did without feeling excluded.

    Anyway, that's this old codger's view on the matter. Feel free to disagree. (As I'm sure you will.)

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  15. Kid, I think the fact that being gay has, as you say, generally been viewed as abnormal is a big problem. I see this less of a case of two opposing yet valid viewpoints and more about a change in attitudes that needs to happen, much in the same way as changes in attitudes to race needed, and still need to happen. I see a bi sexual Superman as a powerful gesture towards changing these attitudes.

    It looks like where we disagree here is on whether superhero comics are the appropriate place to strive for these changes. You don't, and that's fair enough, but I believe they can be, have been and should be, particularly because children read them.

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  16. Sorry that last sentence should begin "You don't believe that they are and that's fair enough...".

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  17. I wasn't in any way likening gays to "swamp monsters, blue-skinned aliens, purple aliens with big foreheads, and whatnot". I was pointing out that ridiculously ludicrous characters exist in comics, and you have a problem with a group of people who actually exist being in comics. Sorry if you misconstrued that — I doubt anyone else did.

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  18. My apologies Kid. But I think the question still stands, as what you are proposing is, in essence, not dealing with an issue simply because it offends some people. Would you say the same about race, religion, gender? All of these make some people squeamish.

    By the way, my 'agenda' as you put it, is a belief that everyone should grow up valuing themselves equally and not be lead to believe that there is something wrong with them because of one small thing that they have no control over.

    The simple fact is that this is not an argument between two sides, it is a fact of life for many people. It is normality for many people. Not to reflect this normality in all fields of life is damaging to LGBT young people who should have role models they can look up to and who can show them the being gay is not abnormal.

    I think there is also something to be said about this being framed as a change in sexuality. Perhaps Superman has always been bisexual and is only just coming to terms with and exploring this? (Hypothetically speaking, of course!)

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  19. Actually, Duy, I didn't misconstrue it - I was humorously pointing out that some people who are gay might misconstrue it. Sorry you couldn't tell the difference, but I doubt anyone else was similarly afflicted. And the only thing I have a problem with is that, on a subject where there is a difference of opinion, one side seems to want an established tradition changed in order to impose their view of things on everyone else as the right one.

    If superhero comic characters were mouthing things like "dirty gays" and "it's disgusting", then there would be an understandable protest to what would be seen as propaganda on the side of the anti-gay lobby. The facts of life are this - some people think there's nothing wrong with it, some people are opposed to it, and some people don't care about it either way. To change the sexuality of a major fictional character for the purpose of presenting one side of the argument as "the right one" is nothing more than "positive discrimination" on a contentious topic.

    If the matter is not made an issue of, then readers are free to project whatever they want to believe about a character onto them. Want to believe that ol' Supes has got it on with Jimmy Olsen in between sessions with Lois? Then you're perfectly free to do so. And if you don't want to believe that, then there's nothing to suggest otherwise. If nothing is stated in print one way or the other, then everybody's happy, everyone wins. What's the problem?

    There only seems to be one for those wanting to impose their view of things onto others who are not similarly persuaded. (And I'm not necessarily accusing any commenters thus far of that.) Better to just keep that particular can of worms out of the picture as far as comics are concerned. There's no anti-gay propaganda being disseminated in comics, so why should there be what amounts to pro-gay propaganda? Comics are for kids - stop messing with their minds, one way or the other.

    Can't say fairer than that.

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  20. Fair enough, you were just humorously pointing something out. Sorry I misconstrued that, though I doubt that anyone who actually read my posts will misconstrue what I said.

    That doesn't change this one thing: gays exist. There are gay people in the world. You say that "if the matter is not made an issue of," but it IS an issue. Avoiding the issue does nothing. That you see the subject of homosexuality as being inappropriate for kids is something I vehemently disagree with -- if kids knew, from the get-go that there are gay people and there's nothing wrong with them, then it will go towards a more tolerant society. Specifically because it's a kid's medium, I think it should be addressed. You really think introducing gay characters is "messing" with kids' minds?

    Right now, Kevin Keller is in Archie. Kids are reading Archie. Kids are realizing that there's nothing wrong with Kevin Keller. So what's the problem, other than people who think Archie is "preaching" to them, who are free to ignore it anyway?

    Now do I think Superman should be gay? No, Paul and I differ on this. But to avoid homosexual characters altogether is not the answer. Comics should be for everyone -- and there should be something there for everyone to be able to relate to. You may as well say that all superhero comics should be about white males. Why not? I, as an Asian, am perfectly capable of enjoying the books regardless, no? Introducing Filipino characters into superhero comics would be furthering the "pro-Filipino agenda," by your reasoning. The Black Panther, Chuck Clayton -- all these would be furthering the pro-black agenda, by your reasoning. Was "Judgment Day" by EC Comics furthering the pro-black agenda?

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  21. London Elliott24 May 2012 at 05:53

    @ Kid - Once upon a time, there were no "black" superheroes in comics. Did comics publishers socially engineer America's youth by introducing them? And, if so, should "black" Kryptonians have been forever immortalized as being segregated on Vathlo Island? Should that era of public political opinion have been frozen forever for kids to read, never accepting that "black" people can be heroes too?

    For 70+ years, there was never a handicapable superhero in mainstream comics for kids to be socially engineered into accepting. Then came Oracle. I guess we should never have taught kids that a person confined to a wheelchair could still be a hero. Speaking of Oracle, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon, is it worse to have a juvenile read a comic book with a popular gay superhero or have them read a comic book in which a woman is shot and tortured by a murderous clown supervillain? Or how about a superhero's girlfriend who is murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator?

    As a bisexual male, I fail to understand the sentiment that children should be protected from learning that a superhero (or a consenting adult) can choose to love someone of the opposite OR same gender. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people can all be heroes too. Or even villains. Heroism isn't dependent on whom you kiss, but, rather, on how you choose to act. Hopefully, the superhero genre can teach us all, kids and adults, what heroism means.

    Having said that, I think it would be a cash-grabbing, marketing stunt to suddenly transform Superman bi or gay. An alternate or parallel version of Superman could be so, but I hope it will not be the mainstream version. Superman is best utilized as a champion of equality rather than kissing Lois AND Jimmy. However, a less storied icon could have his orientation changed in this new 52 and it "may" be worthwhile. I certainly hope it will be.

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  22. I hear what's being said, but I don't think you can equate a hero being black or Asian (or handicapped) with being gay or bi. Where I come from there is no controversy about one's ethnicity. Comics shouldn't exist to pander to our point of view on controversial issues, they should exist to provide an escape from them. As you know, there's a difference of opinion as to whether or not God exists. That being the case, perhaps it would be wiser for superheroes not to make a pronouncement on the matter. Can you imagine how offended some people would be if Bruce Wayne declared that "Jesus was his saviour"? And if he was to declare that God doesn't exist and that religion was a lot of bunkum, can you imagine the stooshie that would create? Far better not to mention Bruce's beliefs (or lack of them) in that area than risk alienating a significant proportion of the readership.

    As far as I'm aware, no one is calling for gays to be outlawed, persecuted, prosecuted, jailed or exterminated. Even those who find their behaviour repellant (and that's probably still the majority) are prepared to accept that what goes on behind closed doors by a minority (relatively speaking) of consenting adults is none of their business. My point being, like it or not, it is still a contentious issue as to whether it is "normal" behaviour even if it is now regarded as being "legal".

    Therefore, just as in the religious area, comics should not be used as propaganda pamphlets by either one side or the other. Peter Parker, an unpopular boy who was shunned and ridiculed by his classmates, who felt isolated and unloved, did not need to be gay to enable gay readers to relate to him and his predicament. Duy, you say that, "by my reasoning", having Filipino or black superheroes is furthering the pro-Filipino or black agenda, but I wasn't aware that there is one. As far as I know, there is no difference of opinion on whether it is socially acceptable to be black or Asian, so I don't see that as being on an equivalent status.

    Continued...

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  23. I'm Scottish, currently sporting a beard and a few pounds more than I should be, of a certain age and perhaps just a tad over what is currently considered average height. Superman (and most other superheroes) are all American, about 6' 3", in their 20s, have incredible physiques and whose lives bear absolutely no resemblance to my own. Nor do I require them to in order to be able to relate to and enjoy their adventures. I do not need my heroes to be reflections of me in order to feel validated as an individual. To suggest that gays (or anyone else) do is really rather patronising.

    You think that there's nothing wrong with being gay or bi, and that it's perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour. That's fine - you're entitled to your views. However, a majority of the population hold the opposite view. Shouldn't they likewise be entitled to their opinion? And, just as it would be wrong for them to be allowed to use comicbooks as a persuasive influence to further their ideas of what is right and normal as far as sexuality goes, well - it surely cuts both ways, doesn't it?

    Everybody is entitled to their views, but one side isn't (and shouldn't be) allowed to propagate those views in a medium that is best left neutral on the matter. Most people on this page have already admitted that the use of gay characters in comics is an attempt to portray homosexuality as being as normal and acceptable as hetrosexuality - as a propaganda tool in other words, to try and sway public opinion in their favour. I just don't believe it's necessary - or desirable. Comics are entertainment aimed primarily at children - they shouldn't be used to influence children's thinking in ways which might be at odds with how their parents want them brought up. And to suggest that the biggest superhero of them all should be made gay is definitely a step too far. ('Though I'm aware that Paul probably only suggested it to stir up discussion on the subject.)

    If you want to teach acceptance, then do so by example. Accept that not everyone shares your point of view on the matter and that there are some areas in which not everything needs to be said. The medium of comicbooks is one of them.

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  24. Kid, if you think there is no controversy about one's ethnicity in Scotland, then at my most diplomatic, I would describe your reasoning as "flawed."

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  25. Again @Kid, this is NOT an argument you can be on one side or the other of. It is the reality of people's lives. Being gay is as much a part of someone as their skin colour or any disability they might have. The same as height or eye colour. You can not argue gay people out of existence, as much as you might like to, and pretending they do not exist will get you nowhere.

    Children grow up gay. They grow up with gay friends, gay family members, gay parents even. By excluding their experiences from a medium they enjoy and find escape in, you are achieving nothing other than labelling them and the people in their lives as 'other' and perpetuating the idea that there is something wrong with who they are.

    I'd also like to know what you base your statement that "a majority of the population hold the opposite view" on? Recent research shows that a majority of people actually believe that gay marriage should be legalised, which would suggest that "the opposite view" is actually in the minority now. Section 28 is long gone, thankfully, and talking about gay relationships is, generally, no longer seen as 'propaganda'.

    You seem to think that showing children that gay people exist will turn them gay, or why would you be so against it? In striving for acceptance, the gay community are not trying to recruit people, only to be allowed to live their lives without fear of discrimination or attack, which is still rife, even in the 21st century.

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  26. Kid, while I don't agree with it, I understand and respect your opinion that superhero comics aren't an appropriate forum for attempts at social change but there is something I'm going to have to take you up on here.

    "You think that there's nothing wrong with being gay or bi, and that it's perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour. That's fine - you're entitled to your views. However, a majority of the population hold the opposite view. Shouldn't they likewise be entitled to their opinion?"

    Quite frankly, no. And I'm afraid the comparison to issues of race is unavoidable and apt. There are a lot of racists in the world, should they be entitled to their opinion? No. Why? Because it's an opinion based on ignorance and prejudice and it's an opinion that damages people's lives. Likewise, the opinion that being gay is abnormal and unacceptable is one based on ignorance and prejudice and it is most definitely damaging people's lives. It is not a perfectly valid opinion that should be respected. If, as you say, the majority hold this view (and I'm not sure about that), then that is a big, big problem. When gay characters are depicted positively in bits of pop culture like superhero comics then this very problematic view is being challenged, as it should be.

    Should Superman be depicted as gay in order to challenge these ignorant and harmful views? Well, that IS open to discussion and debate.

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  27. Madeley, if you're referring to Catholics and Protestants, that's not what I had in mind. On the whole, Scottish people welcome ethnic diversity, having a long history of accepting immigrants from other countries. (Which is not to suggest that everything is perfect.) And, as a resident of Scotland and being non-denominational with close friends who are Catholic, I'd say (assuming that you don't live here) that I have a better understanding of what goes on here than you do.

    Megan, as to whether you can or can't be on one side or the other - that's YOUR view, which not everyone shares. The reality is that quite a number of people are on one side or the other. The rest of your comment is again how you interpret things and not how everyone else would necessarily see it. I would also disagree that by not focusing on the issue is to label gays as "other" - again, that's YOUR view and is certainly not a given. I haven't read about any Scottish characters in comics in years and I don't feel marginalised in the slightest. Incidentally, a recent poll showed that the majority of the Scottish population do not agree with gay marriage, or that it should be recognised as being on a parity with straight weddings.

    Paul, I don't consider the race argument quite as apt as you, although there are similarities. However, similarities do not make the whole case. People who don't like certain races are usually the product of the environment they're brought up in - or even as a result of a bad experience. While that can also be the case with opposition to gay culture, there is also a very real, natural revulsion to homosexuality amongst a great number of people which isn't learned or passed down through the generations. Are you saying that this inherent, instinctive repulsion to and rejection of such behaviour is invalid? It may not be illegal to be gay, and YOU may not consider it immoral, but does that entitle you to present your thinking on the matter as being the only acceptable one? Not everyone who doesn't see things your way is a bigot - that's far too easy and dismissive.

    Continued...

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  28. Even people who are prepared to accept that what gays get up to is their own business and that the state doesn't have a right to interfere, are concerned that presenting gay relationships as equal in every way to straight ones - that is, to remove any trace of stigma - is to give a signal to impressionable youngsters that there's nothing wrong in experimenting in bi-sexual activity, even if they decide afterwards it's not for them. Now, to you and others who believe there IS nothing wrong with that, that's fine and perfectly understandable. However, there is a significant number of people the world over who don't share that view, and whose opinion should be respected regardless whether you think so or not. It is simply not the open and shut case that you presume and attempt to project.

    What I'm saying, essentially, is that you all seem to regard your views are the enlightened, tolerant, intelligent ones (which they may well be) and that those who don't agree are all stupid, uneducated, incompassionate morons who have been taught to hate gays because - partly - there have been no gay superheroes in comics (until recently). Basically, you're right and everyone else is wrong, in effect. That's a huge presumption, and one that's almost on par with the worst kind of bigot who assumes he's better than others because of the colour of his skin or where he comes from.

    Tolerance of differing sexual orientation is one thing, promoting it is another. And despite anyone's claims to the contrary, that's exactly what the intention is - to use comics to present and promote the idea that all forms of sexual expression are normal, healthy, desirable and equal. You have admitted as much on this page. And it may well be the case - but the argument is still ongoing and there are two sides to it. What I'm saying is that no side should be permitted to present their view as the right one. So, no superhero character should criticise or condemn gays, but neither should he suggest that it's okay to be gay - regardless of whether you or anyone else might think or assert that it is.

    The place to discuss differences of opinion on such a subject are on forums such as this, which is what we've been doing. Comicbooks are just not the place to do it - in my opinion. I'm not seeking to change anyone's mind on the issue, just explain why I think as I do.

    And for the record, I believe the potential or capacity for every form of sexual or social expression exists in everyone to a greater or lesser degree. Depending on a combination of environment, experience, culture, inclination, etc., we could possibly be any manner or type of individual imaginable, from the highest to the lowest. However, in the end we are defined not by our impulses (should they present themselves) but by our choices. That's perhaps something to think upon.

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  29. "Are you saying that this inherent, instinctive repulsion to and rejection of such behaviour is invalid?"

    YES!

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  30. Also Kid, I'd be interested to hear you expand on your last sentence I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at.

    Also...

    "Even people who are prepared to accept that what gays get up to is their own business and that the state doesn't have a right to interfere, are concerned that presenting gay relationships as equal in every way to straight ones - that is, to remove any trace of stigma - is to give a signal to impressionable youngsters that there's nothing wrong in experimenting in bi-sexual activity, even if they decide afterwards it's not for them."

    You do know that kids are killing themselves because of this stigma right? Why wouldn't you want to remove any trace of that stigma?

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  31. What Paul said.
    Repulsion is learned behaviour, not natural.
    And on that note, I bow out.

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  32. "YES!" you say, Paul - and you're perfectly entitled to your view. You're even entitled to believe that you're right, but that doesn't make you so. There's two sides to the coin, and the other side is likewise entitled to their view - and to also believe that they're right. So who is? Does anybody know, does anybody care? However, there's a solution to the quandry - neither side should be allowed to suggest that they're right by trying to influence kids or society into thinking that their way is the best way - especially not via the medium of comicbooks. However, I'm in danger of repeating myself.

    Megan, if you're saying that straights being repulsed by getting it on with the same sex isn't natural and that it's learned behaviour, then surely gays being repulsed (as many would be) by the thought of getting it on with the opposite sex is likewise not natural and also a learned reponse? No? Why not? You surely can't have it both ways?

    Paul, if kids are killing themselves because they're gay, it's not necessarily because others see it as a stigma, but perhaps because they themselves do. Sometimes, people revolt against who they perceive themselves to be regardless of whether anyone else shares their low opinion of themselves. Sometimes, suicides are the result of psychological problems completely unrelated to whatever "defect" a kid may imagine they have. Kids also kill themselves because they think they're too fat or ugly when they're not - despite all the reassurance and acceptance in the world from friends and family. Even if there were no stigma (and there certainly doesn't seem to be much of one nowadays) about being gay, some gay kids would still kill themselves. Sad but true.

    As for my earlier closing remarks, it was my way of saying that people shouldn't view themselves as being above anyone else of any persuasion. Given a whim of circumstance, every type of behaviour that is common to man could well come calling at anyone's door. There's no need to open it 'though.

    Anyway, I've doubtless bored enough people. My initial reason for commenting was to say that I don't think Superman should be made (or "remade") as gay or bisexual, but I got caught up in trying to explain why. Everybody's entitled to their point of view - but not necessarily entitled to introduce their pet agenda into a wide-reaching medium in an attempt to influence others. There's just no need for it. Political correctness gone mad - in my humble estimation. But it was nice talking with you. And you're perfectly entitled to your point of view.

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  33. Kid, I'm happy to leave it there as we do appear to be going around in circles I do have to make one remark though, not for the purposes of having the last word but because leaving certain statements of yours unchallenged in the comments section of my blog will reflect poorly on me.

    "Paul, if kids are killing themselves because they're gay, it's not necessarily because others see it as a stigma, but perhaps because they themselves do. Sometimes, people revolt against who they perceive themselves to be regardless of whether anyone else shares their low opinion of themselves. Sometimes, suicides are the result of psychological problems completely unrelated to whatever "defect" a kid may imagine they have. Kids also kill themselves because they think they're too fat or ugly when they're not - despite all the reassurance and acceptance in the world from friends and family. Even if there were no stigma (and there certainly doesn't seem to be much of one nowadays) about being gay, some gay kids would still kill themselves. Sad but true."

    I say this with all respect, but you really, really don't appear to know what you're talking about. And this is my point, some things are objectively wrong. Your above paragraph is a good example.

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  34. Moving on to the actual topic, which is whether Superman being gay is the right way to tackle these issues, I'm with my friend whom I quoted earlier in the thread, Paul.

    The way anyone does anything with gay characters, at the moment, feels somewhat arbitrary, almost like they're putting "Gays on Exhibit" and selling tickets. I don't really think there's any way to avoid that (Even Kevin Keller, who was apparently conceived as gay prior to Archie deciding to market it as such [and I believe them, for reasons we'll get to later] almost feels that way), but I think it's still better than not doing it at all.

    BUT I think such a thing would be more pronounced if you were to use Superman, or Batman, or Spider-Man, or anyone else without whom there's a precedent (Tim Drake). It would feel too much like a circus. This is why I believe in the story about Kevin Keller being conceived before an editorial edict -- because I do believe if the editorial edict came first, they'd have just outed Jughead, which would not only have been controversial for controversy's sake, but also would have never lasted. I think the key to positive change is for those changes to last. It would never last with Superman.

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  35. The question on whether it lasts or not is a big concern. I think one of the most compelling arguments against using Superman is Lois Lane. Despite what Idelson said, Clark and Lois do feel inevitable. Even if DC never get then together again they'll always feel inevitable because they're Clark Kent and Lois Lane. I think this might undermine any male relationships Clark would have.

    And there's a lot to be said for the Kevin Keller approach. But I can't help thinking what a positive message "Being gay isn't wrong, look at Superman!" would be. But you're right there's the risk of any positive message being buried and sidelined under all the nonsense that would ensue from such an announcement. I mean, look at this thread!

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  36. It's frustrating. Entertaining the notion that someone like Superman might fancy men shouldn't be such a risky prospect, but it would be. Whether it would work would depend a lot on a very good creative team and the courage and staying power of DC and Warner Bros.

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  37. Actually, Paul, with all due respect, I know exactly what I'm talking about. I think the problem may be that you have difficulty comprehending it. That's what happens when someone can't or won't see the other guy's point of view because they believe they hold the only valid one. As for your comment that there's been a lot of nonsense on this thread - well, it certainly hasn't been from me - and you did start it. What's the old saying? "Be careful what you wish for..."

    The difference between us is that I'm not seeking to hijack the comicbook medium to further my own personal agenda. (I don't even have a personal agenda.) You on the other hand DO - and are seeking to impose it on others in a way that is completely unnecessary. Someone save us from self-righteous fanboys on their internet high-horse - please.

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  38. Kid, please walk away from this. The conversation has gone from civil to obnoxious now, and you absolutely do not know what you're talking about. You have demonstrated your ignorance time and time again, but your comments minimising the actual, fatal harm done to innocent people by the intolerant are not, and I'm sure Paul will back me up here, even vaguely acceptable here. I suggest strongly you find someplace else on the big, wide internet to be before you turn this discussion more toxic than you already have.

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  39. Madeley,

    I have been perfectly civil all along, but to have my views didmissed as "nonsense" is extremely discourteous. I did not initiate the discussion, not having an axe to grind on the subject - unlike some. Also, I can assure you I know exactly what I'm talking about, 'though I concede that you may have difficulty understanding it. That's your problem 'though, not mine. And the only toxicity on this page has been from yourself. Tolerance of opposing views is not something you're good at, is it? Also, I'd point out that it was Paul himself who described himself as a "self-righteous fanboy on his internet high-horse", so my humorous use of his self-mocking term is hardly of the "toxic" nature you seek to suggest.

    Fact: people who commit suicide do so when the balance of their mind is disturbed. That can happen when whatever is perceived to have upset that balance bears absolutely no relation to the reality of the situation. Whether it's people feeling unloved, too fat, ugly, etc., when - IN REALITY - such is not the case. If you're telling me that no gay person who was accepted and loved by his friends, family and the wider community - with no stigma attached - hasn't killed themselves because they themselves just didn't want to be gay or were unhappy with themselves, then you're missing the point that suicide is not always (if ever) the result of rational thought or because a person's self-loathing is caused by how others react to them. That's all I was pointing out and I stand by it. You may not like it (clearly you don't), but that doesn't mean it ain't so.

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  40. Kid, you are done here, move on.

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  41. I'd say that's highly presumptuous of you Madeley, as it isn't your blog. If you're telling me that in your perfect vision of how you think the world should be that absolutely no gay people mightn't be happy about being gay and perhaps even kill themselves as a result (tragic as that would be), then you don't understand human nature in quite the way that you think you do. For me to point out the obvious in explaining why I don't think things are as simple as others seem to think they are is hardly an excuse for your attitude of contempt, however much you may disagree with my opinion.

    Also, I see that someone on this page has removed themselves as a member from my blog. Perhaps people who preach tolerance of diversity should practise it when it comes to differences of opinion. Or are you only accepting of those who see things as you do? If so, then you're in exactly the same position of ignorance and intolerance as you claim your "opponents" are.

    I find it ironic that those who would surely not be slow off the mark to take offense at the proposition that gay people could or should be turned straight, cannot even begin to imagine why Paul's proposition might be considered equally offensive - or at the very least, ridiculous. (Regardless of the fact that he's a fictional character - the principle is the issue.) Superman is who he is - accept it.

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  42. I think, Paul, you'll find that it's others who won't let it go. You surely must have known that, in inviting comment on a controversial proposition, you were going to receive some dissenting (and maybe even controversial) replies. In responding, I was merely seeking to point out that there's always another side to the coin. It's hardly my fault that people can't or won't recognize (or deal with) that fact - or the many related potential offshoots that spring from it.

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  43. Kid, I find your ignorant assertion that suicide happens in a vacuum offensive. I've asked you to drop it, you haven't, you're banned.

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  44. For the record, to anyone it may concern. I do not anonymously troll blogs. Nor do I encourage others to do the same.

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  45. Can we go back to the original topic now? Specifically if Superman is the right hero to do this with?

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    1. Duy, no. Hell no. Be prepared for the flood gates of Clark and Jimmy and/or Clark and Perry.

      Delete
  46. What do people think of the fact that the character who's likely to be outed is Alan Scott?

    I think the world at large are likely to go "who?" after the way DC have hyped this, but creatively speaking I'm looking forward to seeing where James Robinson goes with it in Earth 2.

    I know a lot of people seem to be against it because they think it takes Jade and Obsidian off the table, but if anything did that it was the fact that Alan is so much younger than he was pre-New52.

    Is it better to make a move like this with a relatively low key character like Alan or should they have gone with someone more high profile? Does it matter?

    I'm not sure myself, what do you guys think?

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    1. I'm not sure Alan Scott is the right choice.

      Like you said, I think the world at large would go "WHO?"

      If they want to get the world's attention it has to be some one big enough that it would resonate with everybody but at the same time be small enough so it doesn't really mess with a character's history.

      Superman isn't going to work because a lot of people are in favor of the Clark-Lois relationship. Too big and it seems like a publicity stunt. Too small and it's like why bother?

      A middle ground has to work.

      Has Plastic Man ever had a girlfriend? Even better yet, doesn't he like to hang with Woozy Winks?

      Delete
  47. RE: What do I think about people who want it to be Alan Scott?

    > Not much. But mainly, "WHY"?!

    If DC wants to make a major impact it has to be someone, big enough to be on everybody's radar but low key enough that it doesn't mess with any of the big names that are clearly not gay.

    One were everybody knows who it is but not enough of his or her history has been fleshed out to at the same time if they knew enough about him or her, the reader can go "Yeah, I can see that!"

    So Alan Scott wouldn't really fit that profile.

    So for example, let's take Hal Jordan. He's a big name but it's really hard for me to see him as gay simply because of his rich history.

    But Guy Gardner isn't that big of a name but enough people should know him (from the recent Batman tv show) and for some reason I can think of him as gay too.

    If it doesn't really matter just create a bunch of new characters that are gay.

    Not an easy answer here.

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  48. My quick and to the point thought is simply this. In general I am not really for the changing of a character's sexuality simply for attention. I agree with that aspect being unneeded. Now bringing that it is a "New" 52 universe and Superman as a possibility seems reasonable to me for a few reasons. One is that he is an Icon and it would get attention.This aspect would work if that was DC's intent. Another one is that I always get sidetracked when people get all uppity with sexuality. Saying things like oh well Superman is heterosexual he and Lois have always been together. In comic reality no he isn't, Superman is an alien life form. although he may look like a male human and may be a male in his world, he is still an alien in ours. With that being said, he is already outside of "the norm". Now on the character note since it is revealed now. I honestly feel Alan Scott was a somewhat terrible choice. Take the new 52 into thought and then maybe not so much though. I say this because the dude pre-New 52 had a daughter and a family. Is that just being utterly dropped or will it be stories as to what happened? If stories then I am all for it but if just dropped that is really more of an attention grabbing approach to me and not for longevity.

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    1. I think Jade and Obsidian being gone has less to do with Alan being gay and more to do with him being significantly younger in this new universe. Although Jade and Obsidian's original dynamic was as Alan's long-lost biological children, they could now reverse the dynamic and have him adopt two teenagers and inadvertently give them powers. It's not unheard of for gay people to have children.

      I think it being Alan makes some sense, actually. He was never a ladies' man, and although he was eventually married, they barely developed that aspect of his personality. If it were Jay, it'd be jarring. Alan, not so much.

      Having said that, I still think they should have just created new gay characters, as Alan being gay will never last.

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  49. I actually keep forgetting they reaged Alan Scott so yeah my earlier comment about it beign totally removed from him yeah null and void. Now my question is this. Is Jay Garrick gonna be his boyfriend?

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  50. I think it's smart and cheap at the same time. DC can easily turn to the media with headlines that say "Green Lantern is gay!" then turn to us and say "But not the real Green Lantern." But also, it may get people going, "There are multiple Green Lanterns?" or "There are multiple earths?" and be intrigued by the idea. And I agree with you about Jade and Obsidian. There's no way for them to exist here anyway.

    At the same time, much like I don't believe many changes in the DCnU will stick, neither do I think this one will stick.

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  51. Having given it some thought since we spoke on Sunday I think Dick Grayson would have been the perfect choice. Not as high profile as Superman (who I think is probably too high profile) but a hugely important character in the DCU and a meaningful change.

    Earth 2's Alan Scott? Big deal!

    Of course, if I was going to be cynical I would suggest that the time to do this was last September, not as an afterthought nine months later with a Z-list character.

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  52. "Too big and it seems like a publicity stunt. Too small and it's like why bother?"

    I think you may have it the nail on the head there Jeremy. I've talked to a few people about this and quite a few of them have said that while they see where I'm coming from, Superman is too big a character. Any positive messages could get drowned out, not only by homophobes but by people who would (quite justifiably perhaps)dismiss it as a publicity stunt.

    And of course, as Rob said, Alan Scott has the opposite problem. He's too small a character.

    I'm not too worried about Jade and Obsidian. If a writer has a story to tell about them then they'll find a way to put them on the table. Adopted kids as Duy suggested, or time travellers or perhaps even my least favourite superhero cliche, rapidly aged kids?

    What do guys you think of Rob's suggestion of Dick Grayson?

    Or Jeremy's suggestion of Guy Gardner?

    And hypothetically speaking, if DC had decided that they were writing superman as bi-sexual and that was that, what creative team would you trust to do it well?

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  53. I actually think being straight is a part of Dick's character. Plus, it would open up too many jokes, from the short shorts to the fact that, you know, his name is Dick.

    I think Alan's just the right character to do this with, actually.

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  54. It's official!

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/06/01/its-official-alan-scott-the-original-green-lantern-is-dcs-newest-gay-hero/

    I have to say, based on what he's said in these interviews it sounds like James Robinson is pitching this perfectly. The following quotes are pretty much what I was picturing when I suggested a gay Superman in the above blog post. I'm on board for this.

    “This guy, he’s a media mogul, a hero, a dynamic type-A personality and he’s gay,” Robinson said. “He’s a complex character.”

    “He’s fearless and he’s honest to the point where he realized he was gay and he said ‘I’m gay.’”

    “What I really want to do with this character is make the fact that he’s gay to be a part of who he is and not to be the one identifying aspect of him,” Robinson says. “And have his humor and his bravery be as much or more a part of him as his sexuality.”

    “He’s someone you would want to watch over your children,” Robinson says. “Presenting that kind of a heroic role model hopefully will be a good thing and help to show gays in a positive light for people who might be a little more small-minded.”

    “He’s a type-A personality who doesn’t hide in the shadows,” Robinson said.

    “I hope he’s a positive figure. If there’s some kind of kid out there who’s reading the comic and who’s worried about the person he is, maybe it will give him a positive sense of who he is. Or maybe a different kid will read it and decide I don’t need to bully some kind of kid in school,” Robinson said.

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  55. I am fully in favor with DC choosing to create more and more diversity into their books. I am thrilled that Alan Scott was revealed as gay. I am thrilled that it got so much press. I AGREE with the original poster that it's important and imperative and sends a very positive message to see more and more of these incredible heroes as either gay or bi-sexual.

    My problem with this argument, particularly as a woman, is that Superman is ALREADY A character who has been sending a statement with his sexuality for 74 years that goes against the grain for the straight, white, male norm.

    Have other women come in and out of the picture over the years? Yes. However, on the whole, Superman has been in love with the SAME WOMAN for 74 years. And not just any woman. A career woman. A very strong woman. A woman who, when she was created, was a slap in the face to every stereotype that suggested that women had to be quiet, passive and demure in order to be considered desirable. Like all of these heroes, Superman has gone through periods when he was in the hands of poor writers that didn't present him well. The era of Superdickery is renowned for a reason for many heroes. However, there is also a staggering amount of material and live media adapations that present Superman as a staggeringly feminist narrative.

    Superman didn't just marry Lois Lane in 1996 nor did he just have sex with her in the 90's. Their first sexual experience was back in the 70's. He also married her the first time back in the 70's and the marriage was featured in the Superman Family books for years. He then married her again at the symbolic "end" to the pre-crisis era in "Whatever Happened to the MAn of Tomorrow." Lois and Clark got engaged in 1990 in the modern era and their modern love affair spanned over 20 years. It also spanned successful live acton television shows and an animated series, one of which just went off the air last year.

    Superman is one of the few straight male heroes out there that has literally been presented as going against the norm in terms of the way he treats women. Live action adaptations have had the guts to even present him as a virgin and LOIS as the one who is more sexually experienced---something that as I'm sure you are aware is rather UNHEARD of in terms of the way women are usually portrayed in narratives. The interaction between Lois and Clark has been, for decades now, sending a rather brave message to men about love and sex.

    The problem with trying to argue that Superman should be gay is that you are, in essence, then taking one of the few narratives that exists that has kept ONE WOMAN at the center and a male character where love and sex were paramount to his creation and his origins and changing it completely at his core. Do I think there are some iconic male heroes in which their heterosexual orientation is not inherant to who they are? Yes. I think there are some heroes (I actually think Batman is one of them to be honest) that would make complete sense as a gay man. I just don't think Superman is one of them. He's been defined for over 70 years by his love for one woman and the message it sent that he was in love with such a STRONG woman was a feminist message at it's root even in the worst days of the Silver Age. That being said, I actually don't think that Batman's sexual orientation has ever defined who he is and I don't think it would be out of nowhere for him to be revealed to be bisexual. I think we need more iconic gay heroes. I just don't think Superman can or should be one of them because the Superman mythos, when written RIGHT, is already a feminist narrative, in part, because there is a very strong female love interest at the center.

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  56. That's a very good point and one that I hadn't really considered. The importance of Lois and Superman's relationship with Lois is, I think, the big flaw in my initial argument. Even if DC has taken the Clark/Lois romance off the table it's still going to be a big unspoken elephant in the room, just 'cos it's CLARK and LOIS. If Superman were to date anyone else, male or female that relationship would be undermined by the very presence of Lois in the strip. And as you rightly say Anon, Lois is an extremely important character, not just in comics but in pop culture, and while I hadn't really thought about it before, I agree that Clark and Lois' story is a feminist narrative. If anything were to undermine that it would be a massive shame.

    Would it be possible to have a bi-sexual Superman without undermining the feminist narrative of Clark and Lois? What does everybody else think?

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    1. No. Because the point of Superman being a feminist character is that he is often monogamous and committed which goes against the grain. He is defined by his love for a woman and his sole desire to be with her even in the days of the silver age where sexism prevented that from happening.

      I'm sorry but I do not think Superman is your guy for this.

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