Over the past couple months, some people have been going batshit crazy over the fact that Kevin Keller (who is – wait for it – GAY) transferred to Riverdale High to spend eternity in high school with Archie and the gang. Granted, this is a big step for a property that allowed Spire Christian Comics to make a bunch of super-conservative comics starring the Riverdale gang back in the seventies, but there are plenty of other important (and often borderline offensive) gay moments in comics that the refreshingly normal Kevin Keller doesn’t even hold a candle to.
(10) Mikaal “Starman” Tomas joins the Justice League – Since its debut, the Justice League has been one of the least gay-friendly teams around. Considering how many members have come and gone from the team’s rosters in its 50 years of existence, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a single gay member on the League until now. Following his Cry for Justice series, James Robinson took the opportunity to insert Starman into the team in May 2010’s Justice League of America #46. Considering how familiar the Justice League brand is, even to casual readers, I’d say this is a big leap forward in acceptance of LGBT characters in mainstream comics.
(9) Superman and the pink kryptonite – Well, this happened. You know how different colors of kryptonite have different effects on Superman? Well, in April 2003’s Supergirl Vol 4 #79, a Superman from an alternate timeline is exposed to pink kryptonite that causes him to, um, really, really like Jimmy Olson’s bowtie. I don’t know what’s better; an oblivious Lois in the back wondering what’s gotten in to the Man of Steel or Jimmy Olson in the foreground looking both slightly weirded out and very, very confused. Either way, it’s kind of awesome that DC (and not some parody/middle-aged woman’s slash fiction) had the guts to make a character as quintessential to comics as Superman gay, even if it was for all of one panel.
(8) BOOM! Studios’ 3rd Anniversary Party – In 2008, Californians were up in arms over Proposition 8, which would prevent same-sex couples from getting married. Meanwhile, BOOM! Studios was getting ready to celebrate its third year of operation by throwing a big party at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. After booking the bar, BOOM! discovered that Doug Manchester, owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, had recently donated $125,000 to ProtectMarriage.com, masterminds behind Prop 8. So what does BOOM! do? Probably one of the greatest “fuck you” moves of all time, turning their own 3rd Anniversary party into a gay pride party.
(7) Rawhide Kid miniseries – This is one of those things that falls into the “one step forward, two steps back” category. In 2003, Marvel comics revived its 1950’s cowboy hero Jonathan Clay, the Rawhide Kid, gave him his own title, and decided to retcon him as a homosexual. This marked the first time that a mainstream comic company had actually given a gay character their own book (albeit a limited series), which is rad. Only problem is, Marvel decided to put The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather on its MAX imprint (which is pretty much just full of comics meant to offend everybody) and make him the most stereotypical gay character ever. And, um, guess what? As of last Wednesday, they began releasing volume two. Yay?
(6) Buffy and Satsu – The Buffyverse has always been kind to gay characters ever since Willow came out in season four of the television show. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when during Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #11-12, fellow-slayer Satsu admits to being in love with Buffy and, following a fight with Twilight, the two of them comfort each other. Granted, it was just a two-time thing, but it was executed respectfully and cemented a bond between the two characters.
(5) Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority – When Warren Ellis created the Authority, Wildstorm’s Justice League parallel, he decided to make Apollo and Midnighter (their Superman and Batman, respectively) a non-overtly gay couple. Following his run, Mark Millar took over and decided that the perfect way to close the first volume of The Authority would be with a wedding between the two heroes, celebrated by the masses rather than frowned upon. Now, if only Midnighter would have worn something a little less ridiculous to it.
(4) Renee Montoya and Kate Kane headlining Detective Comics – In August 2009, Greg Rucka (who we’ve applauded time and time again for his work with female characters) got his hands on Detective Comics. With Bruce Wayne lost in time and Dick barely getting the cowl, somebody had to get top billing. Enter Kate Kane as Batwoman and Renee Montoya as the Question in issue #854 as stars of the main and co-features respectively. Now that the “Elegy” storyline is complete and Rucka has left DC, JH Williams III will be co-authoring an ongoing Batwoman book with W. Haden Blackman (X-Wing: Rogue Leader), the first time a gay character has had their own ongoing book.
(3) Valerie Page in V for Vendetta – In Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Britain is taken over by Norsefire, a fascist group, who criminalizes homosexuality (along with being Jewish, Pakistani, black, or Muslim). Popular lesbian actress Valerie Page is incarcerated and writes out an autobiographical letter to whomever finds it detailing her persecution. Just before she is scheduled to die, she slips her letter into the cell next to hers with the hope that they will escape. This letter ends up in Cell V, acting as the impetus which causes its occupant to destroy the internment camp and become the vigilante V. Later, this same letter is given to V’s protégée, Evey, which causes her to become his successor.
(2) Hulkling and Wiccan’s GLAAD award – For a company that fucked it up so bad with The Rawhide Kid, Marvel attempted to make up for it with the teenage romance between Hulkling and Wiccan (first hinted at in Young Avengers #7). Allan Heinberg, the writer for Young Avengers, is openly gay himself and decided that making the pair of heroes a couple would give gay comic readers something they could identify with. In 2006, both Heinberg and Marvel received a GLAAD award in recognition of this decision.
(1) Northstar coming out – In March 1992’s Alpha Flight #106, while the team fights Mr. Hyde, Northstar happens upon and and takes in Joanne, a baby dying of AIDS. Turns out that fellow Canadian superhero Major Mapleleaf’s own son was a homosexual and died of AIDS, causing him to freak out and attempt to kill Joanne. To stop Mapleleaf, Northstar confesses that he too is gay. Northstar’s coming out issue received all sorts of media attention, what with comic books still being considered children’s fare (the Comics Code Authority banning gay characters outright) and it being a whole five years before that episode of Ellen. Truly, this was the most groundbreaking moment for gays in comics.