Published on December 28th, 2011 | by Joe Glass0
Tales from the Four Colour Closet – LGBT in Comics 2011
So we come to the end of another year, and this year we find that there have been quite a few steps forward in LGBT in the comic book medium.
Perhaps the first thing we have seen happening this year, and perhaps the most surprising and the biggest change, was the introduction of Kevin Keller in Archie Comics. Archie Comics, for those unfamiliar, is a world of good old fashioned Americana and family values. Set in Riverdale, the majority white cast go about their day-to-day lives enjoying burger eating contests, hanging out in malt shops and a good ol’ fashioned love triangle for the lead character.
So, for many at least, it was surprising when the Archie Comics world welcomed, with love and respect, their first openly gay character. Again, these are comics largely aimed at a younger market, and here came Kevin, a good, well-mannered young man who just happens to be gay. And better yet, everyone is okay with it.
Further into the year, we even get Kevin getting a boyfriend, his father (a proud military man) revealing his opposition to America’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, he got his own series and then most recently in Life with Archie, a comic that follows Archie into his older life and aimed at an older market, Kevin even gets married to his partner, after a career of military service performed with distinction and open and honestly.
Archie surprised many with its openness and honesty and inclusion of gay issues, and it did so with respect, care and pride.
In the real world, one of the biggest changes in LGBT life was the repeal of the US Military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. The policy essentially meant that if a man or woman serving in the military was ever proven (or sometimes just suspected) of being gay, they would be discharged immediately from service, assuming they were allowed in at all. And if a serviceman or woman was asked directly, their only recourse (if they wished to stay in the military and didn’t mind doing it in a closet) was to lie and say they were not gay. Comics even touched on this policy before, as Batwoman’s origin story revealed that she could not tell a lie (which would have gone against the motto of her military training grounds anyway) and she came out to her superior officer when asked.
It remains to be seen whether this will be touched on again, now that DADT is gone.
Staying with Batwoman, perhaps the biggest news in the comic world was DC’s exciting and frankly brave step of restarting their whole continuity from scratch. The New 52 saw us losing a number of LGBT characters as storylines suddenly came to an end (such as Starman, Tasmanian Devil and Obsidian), but it saw us not only gaining several characters come to forefront again (such as Apollo and MIdnighter, who’d been missing a while) but also saw two LGBT characters get their own series, in the form of the bisexual Voodoo and the lesbian Batwoman, who’s series finally begun.
DC even gave us a new gay character, and a teen too, in the form of Teen Titan’s Bunker.
This is not to leave Marvel completely out of it: they introduced (or rather, revealed) a new gay character in the form of Striker, as well as finally giving Northstar something to do in Alpha Flight, and continued to have a presence in titles such as New Mutants, Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Daken: Dark Wolverine, X-Factor and Invincible Iron Man.
Avengers: Children’s Crusade even features Wiccan as the main focus of the series, in his hunt for Scarlet Witch and efforts to redeem her. This series is also a major link and start-up for one of Marvel’s next major events for 2012, so it’s nice to see gay characters included in that kind of thing for a change.
That is by no means all, with lots of new LGBT based series and OGN’s released, and a multitude of new steps forward in the direction of true equality of representation. There’s simply far too many things going on this past year for me to go into all of it. And hey, 2012 may see yet more new things. So enough looking back, let’s look forward to a new year and what we can do to push comics forward now.
Happy New Year!