Which means I come close, but can't avoid them completely.
My mom says, "Did you hear a superhero is going to be gay?!?"
No! No idea!
Mom didn't pick up on the sarcasm. "It's the Green Hornet!"
No, it's a Green Lantern. Alan Scott, to be exact. It's not the one from the movie, that's Hal Jordan.
"They're saying on the news that if Ryan Reynolds had known they'd make Green Lantern gay, he might not have taken the role."
Uh, with all the comic and movie news sites I read, if that was true, I'd have heard about it. And once again, it's not the Green Lantern Reynolds plays that is gay (although I imagine there's a lot of gay guys who would be first in line for that movie), but Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern from the Golden Age.
Heeding the voices of logic and reason were never my mother's strong suits. I was grateful for one aspect of the conversation -- at no point did she say anything bad about being gay or the old "think of the children" bullshit. She was just shocked that a major hero (or someone she thought was a major hero) was going to be gay. I know some of you roll your eyes at that statement, but if you heard her just a scant two years ago, you'd know what major progress that is.
So, she talks about DC Comics and Green Lantern, but she doesn't mention Marvel and Northstar's wedding, an actual gay wedding depicted in the comic book that Marvel is hyping up. There are "invitations" around comic shops and a special retailer incentive cover that not only shows previous Marvel marriage (minus one rather major one, more on this in a moment) but allows retailers to add a wedding photo of their choice to the cover if they order enough.
And I'm sorry to say this. I know a lot of people are probably cheering that homosexuality is being depicted so openly now.
But this is not open mindedness on the parts of Marvel and DC.
It's a publicity ploy.
If they could boost sales by denying homosexuality instead of promoting it, they would.
Anyone who thinks otherwise, I have two words for you: Kevin Keller.
Kevin Keller is the first gay character to appear in Archie Comics. Keller was introduced as a guy that Veronica tried to hit on and failed and she couldn't understand how anyone could resist her feminine charms. Well, that's an easy one -- she acts like a stuck up bitch. But lots of guys overlook that because, well, titties. Keller proved immune. Jughead wondered why, and Keller basically shrugged and said, "I'm gay." Jughead then started hatching a plan to use Keller to get back at Veronica for all the abuse she's heaped on him over the years.
Now, that story simply happened. No one had any clue who Kevin Keller was or that he was a gay character until the issue was on sale and on the newsstands. And Archie Comics did nothing after that. They didn't send out press releases announcing "Our First Gay Character!" They let the character exist on his own. They gave him his own series, and while the press did pick up on it, Archie Comics has always presented it as a series about Kevin, not a series intended to get people talking and interested in Archie Comics. The character simply is. He is not a publicity stunt.
The Big Two are looking at Archie and realizing that, when it comes to being socially progressive, they are waaaaaaaay behind. As far as I know, the Archie comic where he and Valerie from Josie And The Pussycats kiss is the first time an interracial kiss has ever been shown on a comic book cover (and, personally, I thought it was kind of hot). Not only that, but after presenting two versions of Archie showing what his life would be like if he married Betty or Veronica, they are currently showing what it would be like if he married Valerie (the current issue shows their baby daughter jamming with their band). And let me say this -- I was nervous about this because Archie is a jag off. He has ruthlessly used Betty and Veronica all these years, sometimes playing them off each other, just to make himself feel desirable and like a man. His treatment of Valerie is surprising gentlemanly and sincere. Never saw it coming.
The Big Two have a very spotty history when it comes to supposedly progressive politics. Everyone decries mainstream comics as hotbeds of liberalism. But they are simply reacting to the times. Stan Lee created Iron Man to piss off the hippie culture of the 1960's that DC was courting (Stan Lee admits this). As far as I'm aware, the first gay character was the Pied Piper, a reformed villain who became Wally West/The Flash's ally. There were actually threats to cancel subscriptions over a character that I can guarantee most of my readers are thinking, "Who?" Indeed, DC's squishiness on the subject of homosexuality has been odd given how much the company pushes other aspects of sex. There's the bondage themes that ran through Chester Gould's Wonder Woman (example: if a man binds Wonder Woman's hands, she loses her powers). Starfire comes from a very sexually casual culture. Hal Jordan was happily fucking a 13 year old girl for a while. Superman wants to have sex with his cousin and his mommy like some sort of superpowered Jerry Springer guest. In fact, of all the things that factor into Catwoman, lesbianism is the only social taboo that didn't factor into her origin.
Marvel has no problem with all kinds of weird sex, especially if it's written by Chris Claremont, like Nightcrawler wanting to screw his sister. Reading about Ms. Marvel's pregnancy is really difficult for me, as the casually entertaining way she is put through the wringer I consider offensive. Marvel's only previous brush with overt homosexuality, in fact, was used to explain the psychosis of the Incredible Hulk. A flashback to Bruce Banner's student days showed him nearly getting raped by a guy in the gymnasium shower.
So it was with considerable "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?" when John Byrne started writing Alpha Flight back in the 80's and started dropping hints that Northstar was gay. Byrne was actually building to a big reveal that not only was he gay, but he was suffering from AIDS. Editorial overrode at the eleventh hour and changed Northstar to, instead of his weakening being the result of AIDS, he was just a magical being from another dimension who was losing his powers because he was separated from his home for too long. Yes. Magical being. Northstar was literally the world's biggest fairy. GG.
Things have sort of changed since then. Homosexuality is a lot more open, though hardly perfect. Northstar eventually became officially gay in the 90's. Batwoman is openly gay, but her character is handled so well, people know her as a superhero, not a lesbian. That's just another detail like her being Jewish. In fact, homoeroticism has become a selling point. The current Green Lantern books feature a homoerotic undercurrent (dom/sub between Hal Jordan and Sinestro) like a Joe Esterhauz movie (writer Jeff Johns has apparently said there is an inherent "gayness" to Green Lantern. Okay. I guess. I've never noticed it, but then again, I missed the homosexual aspects of Ren And Stimpy when it first ran, so it's possible I'm just not noticing). In fact, the companies are anxious to show everybody how modern they are. For all my bitching about Peter David and him having Shatterstar and Rictor be gay lovers, at least he handled it right. It simply happened in X-Factor, it wasn't a press release event.
Part of the problem is that, while the world is more accepting of homosexuality, gay men are still marginalized. Two guys kissing is icky. Two girls kissing is hot (I've been told that I could have better sales for Head Above Water if I made Amber and Becca fall for each other at the beginning instead of the end, drew them hotter, and drew them touching each other and having sex. Thaaaaaaaaaaanks). The entertainment world is still focused on male desires, and nowhere is that more blatant than the adolescent male power fantasies of comic books. But the audience is catching up. And after seeing Archie Comics simply present homosexuality and not get hammered for it (no one is organizing boycotts against Archie or demanding stories take down the digests), they've decided to dip their toes in the water. And it has nothing to do with what is right or that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's because they think they can make a buck doing it.
They are merchandising it.
That's pretty stupid and insulting. However, there are also mouthbreathers that are being even worse. Catholic Online wrote this batch o' bullshit:
"Comic book characters are fictional constructs, so it’s not like someone needs to save Green Lantern from his own deviant ways, but these fictional stories are sold to both children and adults as mainstream reading material. Superheroes can make desirable role models for children, often exemplifying character traits we’d like our children to emulate. Examples include patriotism, loyalty, integrity, justice, righteousness, self sacrifice, heroism and, yes, other virtues. Remember when we wanted our children to be virtuous? Now thanks to an editorial decision, we are somehow expected to add homosexual practice to that list?"
Where do I even start? Let's just leave out that homosexuality isn't a sin and that Catholics like myself not only see nothing wrong with it, but actually think God meant for there to be homosexuality and it's part of His plan. Let's focus on the less individualist statements. Superheroes virtuous? Have you even read modern superhero comics? That behavior is for squares. The new Scarlet Spider comic bills itself as "all the powers (of Spider-Man), none of the responsibility!" Catwoman is what it is like inside Quentin Taratino's head. Red Lanterns. Wolverine. The whole Secret Invasion thing, including a character being torn in half depicted in loving detail in a two-page spread. Batman is just expressing his loss of his parents. Why aren't you protesting that? Because you don't know that it exists, that that's what things are like now. I defy you to show me a single Batman comic currently being produced that you can put in the hands of a nine year old. You are only interested in what you think is going on instead of the truth. You know, the same way you are reacting to homosexuality.
(P.S. Are you going to protest Spider-Man making a deal with the devil? I think that's a lot more offensive than someone being gay.)
One Million Moms decided to weigh in on their Facebook page and condemned the Alan Scott thing. People started leaving comments supporting Alan Scott being gay. The admins tried deleting the comments, but more showed up, so One Million Moms just nuked the thread. Way to show tolerance -- unless you're going to say something we agree with, we won't let you speak.
Catholic Online couldn't keep its mouth shut and went back to the well. "Superheroes should be protecting the innocent, catching bad guys, and serving up justice. Overt homosexual practice, and promoting the agenda related to promoting it, should have no place or in the pages of comic books especially when they are marketed towards children." Personally, I don't think ANY depictions of sex belong in ANY kids' comics (not all ages, kids' comics, there's a difference). And these stories are simply showing homosexuality exists, like how some people are Trekkies or like playing cards. If anything, comics do more to promote that marriage is the worst thing to happen to civilization than anything else. COMIC BOOKS AREN'T MARKETED FOR CHILDREN! GO IN A COMIC SHOP! LOOK AT ALL THE SCENES OF DEATH, DESTRUCTION, AND UNHEALTHY SEX! There are comics for kids that don't feature sex, such as Strawberry Shortcake, but notice they are off to the side in the shop. They don't sell. What sells is the stuff for people old enough to be able to handle depictions of sex.
And through it all, Marvel and DC are patting themselves on the back for being so progressive when they are only doing it after someone else has taken the risk for them, dipping their toes in the water because the bragging rights and temporary sales to people who don't usually read comics will boost their bottom lines.
Gays are not accepted. They are still seen as something to take advantage of, to exploit. It's just monetary now.