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....