On last year’s National Coming Out Day it was announced that the new Superman, who is the son of Clark Kent, is bisexual. The fact that Superman is one of the most popular superheroes in history makes this news even more significant. The past year saw the introduction of several new queer superheroes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe saw its first openly gay character in The Eternals, where Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) was shown raising a child with his husband.
Several fan-favourite Marvel and DC superheroes also came out as queer, with Loki hinting at relationships with both men and women in the past and the first trans superhero with Dreamer from Supergirl. LGBTQ+ representation in comic books has seen a rise over the past few years. Ever since pop culture recognised the potential of comic books, and superhero-themed movies and TV shows became the new norm, there was no excuse to avoid sexual diversity in popular characters.
Here are a few of your favourite superheroes who are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community…
Back in the ’50s, Kate Kane was introduced as Batwoman to quell rumours of Batman’s sexuality due to his closeness with his sidekick Robin. Later, in 2006, she got a fresh backstory where she came out openly as a lesbian. Kane was depicted as a former US Army soldier whose career got cut short after the introduction of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, which prohibited openly queer people from serving in the army. She also became the first queer superhero to get her own live-action TV series. In the TV show, genderfluid actor Ruby Rose essayed the role of the masked vigilante, with bisexual actress Javicia Leslie taking over in the show’s second season.
Marvel’s Miss America is the first LGBTQ Latin superhero with her own series of comic books and is going to make her cinematic debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Xochitl Gomez, from Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club is all set to play the role of the young superhero in the upcoming movie. In the comic books, Miss America is an 18-year-old student who spends her time protecting her friends and fighting off aliens, as you do. She has super strength, can fly, and travel between different dimensions.
While it was never explicitly stated in the movie, queer actress Tessa Thompson confirmed that her character Valkyrie, from Thor: Ragnarok, was definitely not straight. Marvel Studios’ head honcho Kevin Fiege and Thompson both confirmed that Valkyrie will be openly queer in the upcoming Thor instalment. The character has been in relationships with women ever since her introduction in the 2013 Fearless Defenders comics.
In the eponymous Disney+ series, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) nonchalantly admits to Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) that he’s had several lovers in the past, including princesses and some princes as well. While the morally ambiguous anti-hero has always canonically been pansexual and gender fluid, this was the first time it was acknowledged on screen.
Superman’s son is not the only male character in the DC universe who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community. Batman’s trusty sidekick Robin, AKA Tim Drake, came out as bisexual in the anthology series Batman: Urban Legends in August 2021 after he agreed to go on a date with long term friend Bernard. Meghan Fitzmartin, the writer of the series, revealed that this is especially significant because up till now only female characters of the DC Universe have explored their sexuality, like Batwoman, Harley Quinn, or Poison Ivy. “These characters were deemed ‘acceptable’ only because LGBTQ women are often fetishised,” said Fitzmartin in an interview.
A major comic book crossover event earlier last year saw the introduction of a nonbinary version of the Flash in the DC Comics Universe. Nonbinary Jess Chambers, a.k.a Kid Quick, was a part of an alternate-universe version of Teen Titans before being promoted to the role of The Flash in a two-part ‘Future State’ storyline set on an alternate Earth. The creators claimed that being set in a parallel universe allowed them the freedom to free Kid Quick, now The Flash, from any comic book continuity baggage and be more inclusive with their gender identity.
In a special miniseries tilted The United States of Captain America, readers worldwide were introduced to a host of ordinary people who have taken up the mantle of Captain America to protect their communities. One of the people is Aaron Fischer, a gay teenager who wants to protect his fellow displaced queer teens. Writer Joshua Trujillo claimed that this version of Captain America was inspired by heroes of the LGBTQ+ community, like the activists, leaders, and everyday people who are pushing for a better quality of life.
The CW’s Supergirl featured television’s first transgender superhero with Dreamer, an alias of Nia Nal. Trans-actress Nicole Maines portrayed the role of Dreamer, a superhero whose powers include astral projection and precognition. The character was included in the DC Comic Universe last pride month in the ‘DC Pride’ anthology series. In an interview, Maines asserted the importance of a character like the Dreamer because it demonstrates that transgender people are more than just their gender identifiers and trauma, and trans characters can have arcs outside their ‘trans-ness’.
In the wildly popular miniseries WandaVision, we see a world created by the Scarlet Witch where she has given birth to twin boys, one of them being Billy who in the comic books goes on to become Wiccan. According to the comics, Wiccan becomes a Young Avenger and is in a long-term relationship with a male Kree alien called Hulkling. The two characters have been fan favourites since a long time and have inspired their own comic book series.
If you’ve never read the comic books you wouldn’t know that the iconic shape-shifting mutant is canonically bisexual. Raven Darkholme, a.k.a Mystique, has been in a relationship with fellow mutant Destiny, or Irene Adler, for the past 100 odd years. In fact, her struggle to hide her true identity of having blue skin, yellow eyes, and red hair, has often been considered a metaphor for the fake personas LGBTQ+ people have had to adopt over the years to hide their true selves from the society.
This is not even the tip of the iceberg of some of the most excellently portrayed queer superheroes in comic books. Which one would you like to see adapted on the big screen next?