Like many, I’m on LinkedIn. It’s mostly irritating. Correction: I’m mostly irritating. Such is the way of the opinionated. A thread on the topic of the recent trend of depicting LGBTQ in popular comics, from Archie to Marvel-Disney, inspired this post.
Mainstream comics have been the last bastion of prudery, at least in terms of the male gaze (the censorship of clothed male anatomy in Alex Ross’ paintings comes immediately to mind after fanboys too often cried ‘ew gross!’ at what should be considered natural pants-bulge on spandex-clad men). Despite gay rights activism & awareness proponents in the citizenry, I believe the recent great strides have been thanks largely to the influence of celebrities & fictional characterisations in media, especially television.
It’s not that alternate sexualities haven’t been explored before – they have – but in my limited fandom, they took a heteronormative position. John Byrne created a fuss when he revealed in interviews that Northstar was gay (that depiction in Byrne’s comics was extremely subtle, by rumoured editorial decree). Years ago, I reread his Alpha Flight run & it was easy to infer, if you were looking for it.
I ran into Peter Gillis in a LinkedIn thread, in which he piqued my interest in his run on The (New) Defenders in which he took ethereal alien-cum-corporeal human female Cloud, who was already in a lesbian relationship with (bisexual) Moondragon, & has Cloud realise lesbianism is ‘wrong,’ which triggers ‘her’ shift to male. This fucks up Iceman’s crush on ‘former-she’ Cloud. (NOTE: I have not yet read it, but will soon; Internet summaries seem to gloss the details, & I am trusting my interpretation of Gillis’ comment.)
Another example of heteronormativity is what I will refer to as the Langowski Horniness Problem.
Walter Langowski (Sasquatch) became Wanda Langowski through a consciousness transfer (after trying several other hosts) to goddess shapeshifter Snowbird’s abandoned body. Wanda, with her male consciousness, urged the team to hurry in their efforts to return ‘him’ to male form, b/c s/he had begun to feel straight female sexual drive. It was a passing reference, but blew my small-town teenaged mind in the mid-80s.
In hindsight, I think it was a cop-out. Sexuality isn’t decreed by one’s physicality (as homo-attraction & transgenderedness clearly illustrate), but by the psychology of what one finds sexually stimulating. Wanda should have kept Walter’s attraction to women, yet didn’t b/c the prevailing attitude of the time was that comics characters must be straight – hence Peter Gillis’ Defenders storyline (based on how he described it here), & the extreme subtlety of John Byrne’s creation/depiction of Northstar’s sexuality.
It isn’t just LGBTs who spend so-called ‘pink dollars.’