Saturday, April 28, 2012

Superheroes


Holy Homosexuality!....Batman is Gay!

..At least he is according to a recent Playboy(via Huffpo) article quoting comic writer Grant Morrison who has written for many of DC's Batman titles. Upon reading this, I could almost imagine the entire internet replying with a resounding...."Well Duh! Who didn't know that?!"  hell...the jokes and ennuendo about Batman's percieved sexuality we passed around when I was in elementary school and are probably significantly older then that. However, for some reason, we cant stop mulling over the idea that a superhero can actually be gay and a hero at the same time. However, the article details Morrison's thoughts about the Dark Knight:

"...He’s very plutonian in the sense that he’s wealthy and also in the sense that he’s sexually deviant. Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay. I think that’s why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn’t care—he’s more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid.”


Now....tights, latex, perrenial unattached bachelor with a younger "ward",...the cape? Batman has always had a question mark attached to his sexuality and it wasn't put there as a part of some nefarious plot by The Riddler. this is the Batman that I grew up with....






Has anything more camp ever aired on national television? If there has, I am hard pressed to think of what it was. I don't think even the entire series of Will and Grace was as campy as this ten minute clip. From Batmans tights and Robins super short shorts to exploding sharks and over the top villains, this series practically defined the term "campy". However, as a kid this was all just good fun and I would love to watch Batman right next to reruns of Star Trek, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie.....and my parents didn't know I was gay? .../facepalm...




Even though I have told all the same jokes about Batman and Robin being a gay duo(because it's dam funny) I have also been uncomfortable with the subtext that exists in those jokes. Batman would not be loving a peer, he would be in a relationship with his "ward" and this backs up the whole gay-equals-pedophilia thing that quite frankly pisses me off. There are those who can make joke in a light-hearted and campy way and those who would use it as a way to further demean gay people as predators. 


but whether or not Batman really is gay is probably not as meaningful as the connection between superheroes and the LGBT community. Not being big on the superhero genre myself, I never noticed how powerful the stories of these character can be to those of us who resonate the notions of living a secret identity in a hostile world and somehow find the ability to fight back. My first boyfriend was a obsessed with the X-Men and opened my eyes to the gay subtext of the series. The idea of being outsiders in a world that looked on them with fear and suspicion and took any chance it could to persecute them....and so they band together whether for good as the X-Men or for evil as the Brotherhood of Mutants. Then, the only truly "out" character was Northstar of the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight. Today, Northstar is embroiled in a plot line that is leading to getting married to his non-superhero boyfriend. Add to Batgirl's coming out and it seems that comics have come a long way in taking LGBT stories from subtext to major plot line. Now instead of imagining ourselves in those rolls, we can actually see our stories being told. No matter what your age...that feels good. Northstar and the X-men gave a lot of gay kids the strength to hold their head up when there may not have been any other reason to accept themselves as they were. To be able to just tell the story plainly instead of veiling it only lifts the mask and lets everyone see who has been under it all along and that can be just and liberating and inspiring.




The fact that our heroes can come out of the closet mirrors the awakening many Americans are undergoing who the LGBT community really is. With the stories of people like Mark Bingham who helped thwart the hijackers of Flight on September 11th...or the debate about the sacrifices of gay soldiers following the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the nation was coming to the realization that gay people could be heroes...a fact that many gay people don't learn until much later than our coming out. In a time when Hollywood is still pressuring actors back into closets in order to be accepted as valid leading men and women in entertainment...gay people have been fighting in wars and committing acts of heroism(and sometimes villainy) since the dawn of time. It means something to the world to see homecoming soldiers tearfully kiss their boyfriends because it helps them change what they think of "gay" in a way that I hope positively expands their definition to include the full range of human traits....including strength, love, self-sacrifice, and heroism.


But for many decades being gay meant to be invisible...often just to survive. Coming to terms with being a part of a group that society looked down on meant finding your strength in the absence of positive gay role models. So we  may have found it in female singers who's songs made us feel not so alone...or superheroes who had all the qualities we wanted to find in ourselves. We weren't alone and one day we found that out. We also may not be able to fly or have a belt full of ridiculous but somehow useful gadgets but we do have the strength and courage to survive and to do a thousand amazing things everyday. If Batman is ever ready to officially come out of the closet, he would find himself in good company.


Stay tuned for our next big adventure! Same bat-time! Same Bat-channel! Until next time dear readers....





17 comments:

  1. Great post!! I always thought I was the only one to notice that about the X-Men: The whole "mutant" theme of being born different, unwanted, something "normal" folks have to fear and even try to control and/or eradicate. For years I thought I was alone in thinking that as my friends and I would be reading X-Men comics together.

    Hey, did you ever watch Xena: Warrior Princess? Massive lesbian undertones between Xena and what's her name (Gabrielle?) are absolutely peppered throughout that series. The sexual tension at times was palpable. Just one more reason that show was always such a guilty pleasure! :)

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  2. Yeah, the X-Men have been symbols, however intentional, in how men, women and kids are as people, and that being born with something different isn't a curse; it's how one uses it that makes it what it is. A part of being gay is how you look at yourself as being it, and what example you show (Otherwise that bastard Senator Robert Kelly won't shut up).

    I've seen the LGBT agenda addressed however more in Marvel Comics, although some do exist in DC (Batwoman for one). Northstar was a keen example as being a gay mutant, the first real open one. And then there was the iconic frame of Shatterstar kissing Rictor in frame. While Northstar came first, that one shot was what kicked off gays and lesbians being represented in the comic book industry, and eventually the video game industry. The flagship of LGBT representation in comics nowadays is the beautiful relationship between Wiccan and Hulkling of the Young Avengers.

    I applaud the writers of the comics that have made such a cultural impact on the entertainment industry with how it addressed the LGBT agenda. The film industry has to catch up now, but it has already had its iconic film (Brokeback Mountain for one because it had well-known actors). I would be amused if it took a comic book movie to further set in the representation of gays and lesbians in blockbuster Hollywood. (Ultimate X-Men movie please! I wants me my Colossus x Northstar).

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  3. koolies! as always very well said...and yes the classic batman was so campy and so fun and who doesnt love eartha kitt as catwoman.. she was sexy. not that boobs do much for me. i was always amused by the stories of robin's 'problem.'
    also, i greatly appreciate the whole batman/superman slash, its always fun-is there a movie about that???? lol
    the other side of the coin with the whole 'young ward' thing is that while it could be twisted into pedophilia, it did not have to be. any couple that has significant age difference could reasonably fit into that 'box' and there was a time when 'adult' was much younger than 18, kind of an apples and oranges thing to me.

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  4. also...major nelson was/is such a hottie. i think he was my first crush ever or at least the one where i knew it was more than just hes interesting. of course that was followed by some direct conversations with mom about 'you dont want to be that way..." and no i dont care that hes 50 years older than me.

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    1. i would be his 'young ward' even now. lol

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  5. Holy Multiple Batgasms !! :-D We need tissues over here…Stat! :-D

    I’m in my early 50’s, just like Jim Stone, and we both would have first seen Batman when it was first being aired. As a small child, I missed its gay subtext entirely mainly because of the era I grew up in. Gayness and gay issues just wasn’t on the radar screen during the 60’s and 70’s, especially in Middle America. Back then, the country was way too busy with Vietnam, anti-war demonstrations, race riots, hippies, acid and Woodstock for anything gay-related to cut through. I was completely obvious to sexuality of any kind when I first saw Batman. Only when I was subjected to a little sexual abuse later on in the 4th grade, something I described more fully in another thread, that I “woke up” sexually at all.

    It would particularly interesting to hear Jim’s input here. Since he’s virtually the same age as I am and, presumably saw Batman when it first came out too, did he miss the gay subtext the first time around just like me? Of course even us old pharts would have “gotten it” in future years, but just not at the beginning.

    Now when you were growing up, Bryan, you were living in an entirely different era. AIDS was out there and, especially in California, if that’s where you grew up, the stuff you would have heard would have been gay, gay, gay, and still more gay. Any such subtext in Batman or any other cartoons or comics would have been super obvious to you.

    After early childhood, I just wasn’t dialed in to comic books and fictional superheroes and the like. So any gay heroes I ever became aware of were real-life people Mark Bingham and openly gay soldiers coming home to tearfully kiss their same-sex partners.

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    1. There is an awesome video on the Feed tab of the Depfox channel called “Homecoming,” which is a must-see for anyone here and for any gay person in general. It’s somewhat relevant to this thread, not in a comic book sense, but in a generalized hero way. Very moving and made me cry and I can’t imagine how anyone here could get through that video without tearing up. But that aspect of it isn’t the real reason I’m mentioning it now.

      You might recall in the comments for the ENDA thread that I suggested we never say “traditional marriage” and replace it with “marriage Inequality.” Still think dropping “traditional marriage” is a good idea, but now I believe saying “marriage inequality” instead might not be our best option, although it’s an okay alternative. Using that alternative with someone who’s a sloppy listener might confuse them and we don’t want that. The “Homecoming” video ended with the most impossibly perfect phrase to use in place of “traditional marriage”—“marriage discrimination.” If we use that label with people instead, we will be absolutely clear to everyone, even the sloppiest of listeners. “Marriage discrimination” still creates the inference of unfairness and bigotry that “marriage inequality” does but without the risk of confusing anyone.

      Here’s the path to the “Homecoming” video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a54UBWFXsF4

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    2. @Dave-Yes Dave I was right there with you. I was glued to the TV back then-we only had 3 or 4 channels. I can remember the display of "muscle" on all of these characters and at the time being quite "interested." As a kid I was impressed by the ultra masculine aura of the male comic heroes.
      My favorite TV show at the time was "Lost in Space!" I still remember it was on Wed. nights at 8pm on CBS!! I was REALLY attracted to the father-John Robinson. Don was pretty hot too.
      I hate to sound like an old man but that was such a different time. People often say "those were the good old days.." Perhaps they were in some way but in most ways I think not. Everything and everyone was in the closet. People never discussed sensitive issues..

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    3. @DVAVE Marriage Equality vs. Marriage Discrimination.
      Great juxtaposition!

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  6. This was a very interesting bit to read. It only highlights for me just how far out of touch with reality I was as a kid. I didn't read any superhero comics. I read Betty and Veronica. I played with an Easy Bake Oven, and with the neighbor girl's Barbie dolls. I dressed up in ladies clothing for fun. I was lousy at sports. I never once paid any attention to fictional superheroes because I was too absorbed in trying to be my own personal superhero. In the 1970's role models were scarce for a girly boy. I had to create mine as I went. I hope gaylings today have it easier than I did. They need their heroes too.

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  7. @Dave...I grew up 70's to 80's. All the shows I mentioned were rerun daily and even though they were, they were fresh to me. Lost in Space and Star Trek fit in seamlessly with Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Buck Rodgers. For me as a kid it was all feathered hair, ELO, Iron on Tshirts, and Kristy McNichol/David Cassidy. Then came the 80's and civilization took a turn for the worst.

    @Everyone I think I left the impression that I got the gay subtext in superheroes as a kid. Just to be clear...I did not. I would have passed a gold brick if I had figured it out then and jumped right out of my spiderman underoos. I didn't get it until it was patiently explained to me by my first boyfriend in my twenties.

    on the upside..Jay still has that old Alpha Flight issue where Northstar comes out.

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    1. ummm i saw that vid so no, sry dave ;P
      that would be an awesome superpower bryan, wealth by shock! 'ooogabooga!!.....dammit jay!!you get to clean up!'
      roflmao...and i think after that thousand bryan would deserve to be pampered.
      also, jay picks all the time about your eating habits but geez, man, what have you been eating! mebbe you really did win the lottery by marrying jay! lol
      thank you for the giggle, i hope you get it back.

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  8. Hi Jim,

    I remember being attracted to some male muscular cartoon characters too as a child, but I can’t remember their names. Nowadays, the hottest thing walking the planet for me would be huge, hairy muscle-bound brutes—what we would call “muscle bears.” And if they happen to be dark too, so much the better. I don’t “require” dark and I’m open to anything racially but, if the element of dark is also present, that boosts the attraction level for me to a boil-over.

    I remember the 60’s and 70’s fondly for other reasons. I’ve always had a hippie-wannabee streak in me and my music collection has always screamed “acid casualty” although I’ve never been one. Sure, I had a few years of toking up and I tried psychedelics just a few times, but never dosed high enough to get a clean liftoff, so to speak. So no depersonalization, the stopping of time, hearing colors, tasting sounds, melting and morphing of objects, telepathy, astral projection or contact with living entities from other dimensions. Damn! I’ve just outed myself yet again—this time on past reading habits. :-) Will I ever learn? Probably not. :-)

    But, in terms of sexuality issues, I agree with you that this era sucked and was anything but “the good old days.”

    BTW since you’re here, what do you think of the idea of dumping the phrase “traditional marriage” for “marriage discrimination” instead?

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  9. My TV recommendation: have you seen the Dr.-Who Spin off "Torchwood"? Science Fiction AND a gay Superhero with a love story..what more could one ask for? Oh yes, the gorgeous (and openly gay) britsh actor John Barrowman playing the hero! :-)

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    1. OMG..yes! its not quite as good as doctor who but i still love it and john is always nice to look at...and ianto is so adorable i just want to cuddle up to him for the rest of my life. and when john goes all scottish in his speech i just about lose it.

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  10. Bryan,

    I noticed on the feed tab of the Depfox channel that you guys are in the mood to do another “Ask a Gay Family” video, but want video questions. I have what I hope is a pretty good question in mind, but lack the capability to submit it in video form myself. So I’ll set it out here and, if you like it well enough, perhaps you can get another Youtuber friend, such as a Jim Stone, to adopt my question as his own and submit it as his own video.

    A long time ago, you guys did a video on the PDA issue and how you and Jay have quite different comfort levels there. And even in the super-romantic “Beloved” video for Valentine’s Day, there were observable differences between you and Jay as you were being photographed. Jay was super-uninhibited and basically couldn’t keep his hands off of you—not that he would ever want to anyway—and then you being comparatively more reserved. Cameras and film crews creep you out to a certain extent and I totally get that.

    My question goes to private displays of affection around kids (“PrDAAK”—my newly-created acronym). Obviously, in the common areas of your own home and in the sight of Daniel, Selena and Nico, you and Jay wouldn’t be doing unambiguously provocative things like deep kissing or other even more elaborate activities. But what level of affection do you express toward each other when the kids can see you and what sorts of things short of outright sexual activity simply feel too uncomfortable to do in front of them or that you perceive are inappropriate for them to see? And are you and Jay on the same page on this issue or do you have significant differences? Perhaps he’s comfortable being “bolder” than you are?

    Some examples—would it feel too uncomfortable or seem inappropriate to do the following when the kids are in the room?

    1. Hugging and also kissing on the lips, even if not done passionately or for a prolonged time;
    2. Snuggling up against each other on the sofa watching tv with one person’s head leaning on the shoulder of the other;
    3. One holding the other from behind, as Jay often does with you, and gently kissing the other on the neck?

    You get the idea of what I’m driving at—very romantic activity but well short of anything remotely sexual or pornographic.

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