Whatever your stance, there's a dramatic and undeniable shift in tolerance towards the acceptance of the LGBT community in America. Pop culture is a clear signal of the change, while also pushing it to occur. TV, movies, music — they're all arenas where it's commonplace to see people of any sexual orientation just being people. Like many lifestyles and ideologies before it, the treatment and casual portrayal of gay and lesbian life in pop culture has helped to dispel abnormality in the big picture.
The one faction of entertainment that may be limping behind the pack is the world of comics. Because of its machismo depictions and largely male demographic, mainstream comics have rarely depicted openly gay characters, leaving the exploration of alternative lifestyles to independent and fringe books. But the world of superheroism is about to take a Superman-sized leap forward with the announcement that DC Comics will reveal one of its known characters to be gay. Bleeding Cool was on hand at 2012 Kapow Convention in the UK, where the comic juggernaut declared the plans, stating their company policy had "evolved."
Gay characters in mainstream comics aren't completely unheard of: in 1992, Marvel revealed its character Northstar, part of the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight, to be gay. Over time, the character took heat for never actually displaying affection, which some considered a cop out, but in 2011, Northstar was illustrated kissing his boyfriend Kyle. DC has also dabbled in the hot-topic issue, previously revealing their character Batwoman as a lesbian in 2006. Apparently their policies to not feature gay characters were restricted to men?
The company was mum on which character would come out of the closet, but the plan was to reintroduce an existing hero, making them, "one of [their] most prominent gay characters." Marvel's jumping on the bandwagon too: on the May 22nd episode of The View, the company will reportedly make the big announcement that Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle will tie the knot. In a world where the President of the United States is under fire from prominent figures for voicing his opinion on gay marriage, that's a pretty big deal.
Now to go one step further. The rise of gay characters in comic books needs to pave the way into the other media in which they're so prominently featured. Superheroes play a major part in the summer movie spectrum (see: The Avengers box office gross), a slice of Hollywood business that's founded on the dollars of the youth demographic. Comic books are becoming increasingly more popular thanks to the wonders of iPad, but blockbusters will always have more eyes. We see gay characters featured on hit TV comedies or as supporting characters in Oscar-winning dramas, but nothing with $200 million worth of special effects roping in every pair of eyes under the sun.
Little changes only help the issue, but superhuman strength is required for a true paradigm shift.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: DC Comics]