web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #213

Welcome to the two-hundred and thirteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and twelve.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.

This week’s legends are dedicated to commenter Shelly. I hope you enjoy ‘em, Shelly!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: DC Comics had a customer survey in 1970 that inquired how interested its readers were in reading about black people.

STATUS: True

Last week, we talked about how DC Comics in the early 1970s had a noticeable dearth of black superheroes.

Well, reader Andrew Collins hit me up with a look at how rather bizarrely DC Comics was treating the issue of race in their comics in 1970.

In Justice League of America #83 (and I’m sure other issues from that month, as well), DC included a customer survey. A customer survey, I might add, is a really smart idea, as DC did not exactly have much in the way of a market research department.

However, it was what’s ON the survey that is so striking.

Here is the survey (click on it to enlarge – thanks to Rachelle from Living Between Wednesdays for the scan!)…

There it is, in the “How Interested Are You” section…

Isn’t that amazing?

“Hey, kids, what are you interested in reading about? Space flights, pollution, black people? We want to know!”

Thankfully, that was nearly 40 years ago, so now that we’re in the 21st Century, comic companies surely won’t let audience reaction to the inclusion of minorities have any influence on them….

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel has a policy where any comics starring gay characters has to be “adults only.”

STATUS: False Now, and Perhaps Always False

So the “controversy” began when Marvel came out with a mini-series in 2003 starring the old Marvel Western character, the Rawhide Kid.

Only now, the Rawhide Kid was going to be flamboyantly gay.

Stan Lee even went on CNN’s Crossfire to talk about the topic.

The topic was more or less done when, in 2006, Marvel did a “Marvel Western” mini-event, with a number of one-shots featuring their Western heroes.

In his reader Q&A column at Newsarama in February of 2006, Marvel Editor-in-Chief was asked if Rawhide Kid was going to be involved in the event.

Quesada said no, explaining:

Well, understand that if we were to go with the gay Kid we would have had to label the books MAX and that’s not what we wanted for this event. So, for the commercial betterment of this mini Western event, we felt it was best to keep it out of the MAX world for now. Granted we could have gone back to the traditional version of Rawhide, but with so many other characters to choose from, there seemed to be no need… I don’t think Rawhide is “radioactive” though I like the term because it does describe properly the incubation period some characters need away from the spotlight in order for fans to be in a desirable mood for them.

This, naturally, led to a collective response of “Wait, so you’re saying that books featuring gay characters are automatically rated MAX, which basically means NC-17?”

Quesada said that no, it’s only if the book is ABOUT the sexuality of the character that it would be rated MAX.

That still did not exactly go over well, and things were worse in August of 06 when Quesada stated that no ongoing titles starring a gay character would ship without a MAX or “explicit content” label. Quesada at the time stated that he hated the idea, but it was a decision made over his head. And really, when we live in a world where, as I noted in a bit the other day, Where’s Waldo? is on the Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 because of an almost microscopic amount of nudity in one of the scenes, I suppose I could see how Marvel would think that they would get trouble over this content – doesn’t make it right to try to hide it, but I can see how they would think it would result in trouble.

Two weeks later, though, Quesada revealed that said policy was gone now, stating that the controversy over his earlier statements had:

given us the opportunity to spark some internal discussions and revisit this issue, especially in light of the fact that we have characters like Freedom Ring, who is the current star of Marvel Team Up without much fanfare mind you, and that we’ve had more gay and lesbian characters appearing in Marvel comics than ever before. In many ways, the old policy over the last few years has just sort of faded away, so let me just say that there is no longer any policy.

Which was good, but it was weird because basically, in the time between Rawhide Kid and August 2006, Marvel had come out with a book called Young Avengers that featured a gay couple (the comic even won an award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)!! And that book had only Marvel’s equivalent to PG on it!

So if Marvel had a policy, it wasn’t a particularly strong one.

About a month later, Marvel corporate issued a statement from a PR guy stating that Quesada was mistaken about there ever being a policy about warning labels for books starring gay characters.

PR guy Jeff Klein said:

The best way to find this out is to go to the comic book store, and you will not see a warning label on any title with gay characters. On the record, Marvel never had warning labels on comic books with gay characters, and we never will.

Since then, Marvel’s had a number of gay characters in non-MAX books, so Klein and Quesada are right about that.

But I can’t tell, really, what the deal was in the time between Rawhide Kid and August of 2006 – it doesn’t really SEEM like there was any policy, but there might have been an unofficial one and Young Avengers just slipped through the cracks or something like that.

I dunno.

Anyhow, it’s great to see Marvel have gay heroes like Freedom Ring still aroun…oh, wait, never mind.

We’ll always have Wiccan and Hulkling, though!

Thanks to Andy Mangels for his excellent timeline on the topic.

COMIC LEGEND: Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum had a character switch genders in the Legion of Super-Heroes to have a character they felt was gay be with a man.

STATUS: True

Ever since 1964′s Adventure Comics #326 (written by Jerry Siegel) had Element Lad say he was “out of his element” when it comes to girls, fans have speculated that Element Lad was gay.

The idea was picked up and developed by fans of the Legion, and it became a common topic for discussion at the Legion fan magazine, Interlac (which began life as LEAPA, LEgion Amateur Press Association).

In the second issue of the fanzine, there was a piece of fan fiction involving Element Lad’s homosexuality, and in the third issue, longtime Legion writer Jim Shooter gave his thoughts about different members of the Legion and for Element Lad, Shooter mentioned that he had always assumed that he was gay, partially for the aforementioned line from Adventure Comics #326, partially because he did not seem all that interested in repopulating his race (Element Lad was the lone survivor of a planet) and yes, partially because of the outfit Dave Cockrum gave him, where he had a giant arrow on his chest….

However, later writer Paul Levitz introduced a female love interest for Element Lad, the Science Officer Shvaughn Erin.

Well, Keith Giffen and longtime Interlac members Tom and Mary Bierbaum (who became the scripters for Giffen on Giffen’s “Five Years Later” Legion of Super-Heroes) did not agree with that idea, and in 1992′s Legion of Super-Heroes #32, they revealed that Shvaughn Erin was actually SEAN Erin, and he had taken a drug that changes you into a woman, as he was under the impression that Element Lad was heterosexual.

Element Lad pretty plainly said that such a ruse was an unnecessary one…

So, through a pretty convoluted plot, the end result that Legion fans had been expecting for decades was finally the case!

Of course, soon after, Zero Hour wiped this Legion (which also had the lesbian relationship of Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet) off the map, and later incarnations of these characters have been a lot different.

But now that the Levitz-era Legion has more or less returned, maybe we shall see a re-visiting of Element Lad’s sexuality!

Thanks to Matthew Peterson at Major Spoilers for saving me a LOT of legwork with the scans he has of Element Lad’s history.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Happy Pride Week, everyone!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

185 Comments

where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Comic Book Legends Revealed? where’s my Com – oh, there it is

thanks!

Hah. Nice comeback, Brian.

BTW, I was on the Ocean City NJ boardwalk this week, which has a small bookstore, which has an even smaller graphic novel section. But, there on the one shelf for American comics, along with Watchmen and All Star Superman, was two copies of your book! I thought that was pretty cool.

The Ugly American

June 26, 2009 at 9:55 am

LOL @ irony of “Let’s Rap!”

Andrew Collins

June 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

Thanks for including the one about the survey, Brian. I discovered that a couple years ago, and have always enjoyed the look on my friend’s faces when I showed that to them. Oh how times change…

I seem to recall hearing that the title of the Rawhide Kid’s comic was going to be “Chaps”. I also seem to recall finding out that I hadn’t imagined that.

You forgot to mention Chuck Dixon’s meltdown over the MAX Rawhide Kid book — I think he went so far as to declare that Marvel must have tricked John Severin into drawing it. Dude’s got…issues.

I don’t know if this is still a comic urban legend or not or if it has even been brought up…damn my bad memory…..but I do remember people saying the John Severin drew the book without knowing that the story was portraying Rawhide Kid as gay

I believe Marvel denied it but did we ever get a real quote from Severin?

I love the Giffen/Bierbaum Legion series, or at least the first couple of years of it. Two things I really liked re: the urban legend above:

1. They did not make a big deal about Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet’s romantic relationship. It started out and was carried on like any other Legion romance. Lightning Lass kind of bounced around romantically anyway, so why not have her in a lesbian relationship?

2. They portrayed Element Lad as a grounded, adult, well-rounded, and ultimately gay man. And they did so with a minimum of fuss. The story referenced above brought his sexuality to light, sure, but it’s not like he had to mention it every time he was on panel. As compared to Northstar in Uncanny X-men right now, who has to mention that he’s gay even when he’s talking about how he doesn’t want to be the team’s token gay member. Ugh.

Thanks for the great column, and Happy Pride Week everyone!

for Element Lad, Shooter mentioned that he had always assumed that he was gay, partially for the aforementioned line from Adventure Comics #326, partially because he did not seem all that interested in repopulating his race (Element Lad was the lone survivor of a planet) and yes, partially because of the outfit Dave Cockrum gave him, where he had a giant arrow on his chest….

How is that look gayer than his original pink and white outfit and hairdo, pictured above?

That survey is all kinds of unintentional hilarity. I love the use of slang terms which were certainly appropriate for the era but just scream that middle-aged dudes are desperately using them in order to come off as “hip.”

I also like how they want to know your two favorite breakfast foods, then give you three choices and an other. And what, exactly, is a breakfast drink? Orange Juice? Bloody Mary? Did they have those nutritional breakfast shake things back then? If an overwhelming number of survey replies listed “hot cereal” as their favorite item, would DC have then aggressively petitioned the hot cereal industry to pay for ads in their comics?

Thanks for laying out the whole situation regarding Marvel’s policy/non-policy regarding homosexual characters. I’ve only heard snippets of the story before, so it was nice to get the whole picture laid out once and for all.

Odd to point out the Legion legend, but was it ever explicitly stated that he was gay? The thing I took from that was that sexuality was a non-issue, which isn’t the same thing, and is far more progressive. By saying Jan and “Sean” were gay, despite what I remember as the only homosexual relationship for either, and it wasn’t much of one, seems to detract from the growth E-lad had in V4 which was about enlightenment, and being beyond arbitrary things like conflict and labels.

The thing with the Legion, I think, is that it subscribed to many science-fiction tendencies, including the idea of exclusive human sexuality being non-existent.

Shatterstar and Rictor shared a kiss in X-Factor this week.

I miss Freedom Ring. He was a great character.

I was rather amused by your shout out to Shelly this week. Hopefully next time we’ll get the “racist white guys” edition of CBLR.

I’m so sick of the gay focus in modern media. Does it have to be in comics as well?

No matter how “far” people think we “should go” as a society, homosexuality will always be unnatural and deviant.

Much to the chagrin of the gays who demand that we A) accept them and B) tolerate/condone their actions.

I don’t expect to see “Sean” Erin anytime soon. Geoff Johns is very clearly picking up where Levitz left off and is ignoring anything from the Giffen and Bierbaums era. There’s been no sign of characters from that run like Kono or Devlin O’Ryan, and Lightning Lass is pretty clearly still with Timber Wolf, not Violet. I still think that’s the most disappointing thing about the revived Legion – there was some really cool stuff from the Giffen run and it’s a pity to see it being ignored.

Hey, it came after Geoff Johns finished puberty, M Bloom, so it can’t be worth mentioning.

Re: Deathurge — it’s not a “gay focus”, it’s just representing an aspect of the human condition through art and media; if you don’t like it there’s plenty of comics out there without it. And it’s not just gay people who accept and tolerate homosexuality either.

Not that I’m arguing with you or anything. You’re completely entitled to your opinion. Just figured I’d respond for what it’s worth.

Have a good day.
John Cage

i really never liked the issue of Legion with Element Lad’s sexuality. As i was totally unaware of any debate/’understanding’ of his sexuality, it seemed as if the writers were forcing this change on this great relationship that i had seen for several years. Also, being a shy guy with no idea how to handle women, i really related to Jan. Then this story comes along and ruins everything, just because a writer [or writers] want to insert their own issue. Seems like a Chuck Austin moment to me, with the same results.
DFTBA

Oh, in case anybody cares, i am heterosexual and just got married to a VERY hot woman, thanks for asking!
DFTBA

The thing is Marvel has had a gay character since March of 1992. Northstar came out of the hero closet in Alpha Flight. #106. Some speculators bought extra copies at the store I worked at when this issue came out. (No pun intended.) There was no outcry at the time.
There is a Wiki about him at this URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northstar .
See chapter #4. .

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Thanks, Deathurge, for letting us all know that you think gays are icky. I’m not sure how you define the word “focus,” but I’m not sure you understand the word. By the way, can you explain how a phenomenon observed throughout nature is “unnatural?”

To get to things worth talking about with people worth talking to, the Handbook had to square the MAX mini with several decades of Rawhide Kid appearances in which he was so straight he had a regular female love interest, and were essentially forced to declare that his behavior in Zimmerman’s series was a ruse of some sort.

From talking to some of the writers involved, who I know from the Marvel Appendix website, they tried to write the entry without making absolute statements on the character’s sexuality. The problem they had was with the way Zimmerman wrote the Kid, as a campy naif rather than a 1950s-era oater hero. It wasn’t so much that he was implicitly gay — and the MAX mini never did much beyond imply — but that he was generally played as a doofus.

Frankly, the MAX series was a pretty lame publicity stunt anyway; far from being an actual gay character, it was mainly a way for the writer to use up crappy camp gay jokes, right down to choosing the most inadvertently sexually suggestive name among Marvel’s Western characters for it.

Okay so going back to last weeks Tyroc story…are we saying Murray Boltinoff was racist? Uninformed, sign o the times?

His name is being thrown about without comment.

And really Grells protest was not thought thru enough.

Sheesh, what is the Legion on now anyway, the “quint-boot”? I can’t keep track anymore, so I don’t bother.

[...] at CBR, Brian Cronin’s Comic Book Legends Revealed is one of the best comic book columns on the wide world of the web. I say this often, because every [...]

EXTRA! EXTRA! COMMENTATOR NAMED “DEATHURGE” HAS STUPID OPINION.

In other news, water is wet and the sun, yep, it’s still pretty hot.

I’m with Danjack…why did everyone assume Element was gay just because he felt “out of his element?” I was very shy and awkward around girls as a teen-ager but not so now. And I never even been gay “curious.” Thing is, gay or fag is the worst thing you can call a nerdy, unsure of himself, straight teen. So the great Jerry Siegal introduces a shy, nerdy, teen-aged hero and other writers come along and make him gay? Speaking for all awkward teens past and present I say “Fuck you very much Keith Giffen!”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy! wrote

[Thanks, Deathurge, for letting us all know that you think gays are icky. I’m not sure how you define the word “focus,” but I’m not sure you understand the word. By the way, can you explain how a phenomenon observed throughout nature is “unnatural?”]

A female praying mantis eats her mate after having sex with him. So, does that make it okay for a human woman to eat a man as long as they’re married?

We can’t? But didn’t you say that homosexuality is healthy because other species engage in such behavior.

Just pointing out the big hole in using the animal kingdom to justify human homosexuality.

It comes to mind that perhaps Rawhid Kid being gay was specific to the continuity of that MAX title and that if they were to include him in that Western spotlight as gay, they might have to stick a MAX banner on it just to address that it’s part of the same “world”, if you will.

Not that they ended up doing that with Squadron Supreme, of course, but it’s still a possibility, I imagine.

Re: MarkAndrew — let’s keep things civil. I don’t agree with Deathurge either (and to be honest I found his/her comments offensive) but there’s no need to tell him his opinion is stupid because you disagree with him/her.

Have a good day.
John Cage

A couple more things

Homosexual activist Peter Tatchell admits that their no “gay gene”:

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5375/

The APA echoes Tatchell’s view:

“There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that
an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian
orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic,
hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual
orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to
conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular
factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play
complex roles….”

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=528376

In short, behavior (homosexuality) can’t be equated with a genetic trait (e.g., skin color).

LMAO!

No…really…a Wayne Boring drawn Superman saying, “Let’s rap!!”

God bless the 70′s at DC.

I’m new to reading Legion and recently bought a bunch of Levitz/Giffen issues and I kind of assumed that Element Lad was gay having absolutely no knowledge of any of the points covered in todays CBLR. I also read Cosmic Boy as being gay but I don’t know if I’m as on base with this one.

LouReedRichards

June 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Wow! Is it Troll feeding time already?

Not a Legion fan or anything, but it seems like a bit of a leap to think of a character as gay just because of one comment about being “out of his ELEMENT”. His name is Element Lad, right?

Sounds like just a bad pun to me. But yeah, both costumes are rather “different”.
Oddly though, it’s one of Cockrum’s least “kinky” outfits.

Thanks John Cage, for trying to keep a volatile issue classy/civil.

It wasn’t just the comment in Adventure 326 that made Legion fans wonder about Element Lad’s sexuality. He never had a girlfriend until Shvaughn Erin (20 years of stories?), unlike most other Legionnaires. Even Chamleon Boy and Matter-Eater Lad demonstrated some level of heterosexuality. And he was not shown to be married in the Adult Legion stories. It’s not a lot, but to dismiss the notion as entirely based on one line in one story doesn’t fairly reflect the situation.

@Bob, who curses at Keith Giffen for taking away a shy, nerdy role model, you might consider how many shy, nerdy role models you get in comics (Peter Parker, for instance), compared to the number of role models gay kids get.

@Fred2, 1 dissenter does not a consensus make. Particularly one who sees nothing wrong with a woman aborting a foetus if she finds out the child will grow up to be gay. And using the APA (American Psychological Association) to refute a genetic assertion is like having your dentist give his opinion on your heart attack. The consensus is actually that biological and environmental factors contribute to homosexuality.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Hey, I had some actual comics-related content to discuss in my post. I dunno what comics Fred2 there is linking to, but they look boring and wordy.

I love how in the same article looking at how crazy it was to treat black people like some strange, novelty element in comic books and comparing that to how gay people are treated now, a few commentators here carry on with the “gays are unnatural!” line, apparently not seeing any point in the future where these comments will be just as ignorant as the black survey in 1970.

It must be so annoying for secure, heterosexual men to have to constantly put up with gay people saying they were born that way (like they’d know, right?) and trying to infiltrate their holy institutions like marriage and comic books.

BTW, when someone calls another group of people “unnatural and deviant”, stupid is a completely civil response.

I dunno, Jeff, I think that line is pretty much the basis of the hypothesis that he was gay.

Don’t get me wrong, the other stuff that happened after helped CONFIRM the thoughts people had after that line, but it was mostly that line.

I mean, we even see Element Lad on a date fairly soon after that issue and in another issue we see him react in a positive manner when the Legion computer tells him which two Legion girls have crushes on him. If it were not for the first line, I don’t think the subtext of, say, the scene with him on a date would suddenly become “See! He doesn’t even care about leaving her on the drop of a hat!” it would just be “Typical Legionnaire cad-like behavior” (the Legion often acted like jerks back then).

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

On the subject of the Legion, I always find it interesting to look at the “FYL” stories by Giffen and the Bierbaums. On the one hand, they added a great deal to the depth and general setting of the book, mainly by actually trying to examine what the future would look like or how it might work. On the downside, it did often stretch to incorporate fan theories — even wacky ones, like the whole “Garth Is Proty” thing — and other “fans-as-writers” sorts of moves.

I don’t blame the latter entirely on the Bierbaums; their solo work on Legionnaires was excellent without devolving into fanon, and Giffen sometimes plays fan-wankery games in his solo stuff like the frankly impenetrable Howling Commandoes.

The problem of the FYL Legion, and the Legion more generally, perhaps, is that as originally conceived the LSH belongs to the last generation of unambivalently utopian science fiction. The future was a better place in the LSH’s Pre-Crisis premise, as it was in the first two Star Trek series and other contemporary (but short-lived) media.

Today, I can’t think of a popular example of utopian sci-fi. DC One Million came the closest, I think, but the Headnet material was still a dystopian satire of the negative effects of media-immersion culture and the villains managed horrific crimes in the present day and future.

The Legion, which at bottom is about super-powered teenagers and their way cool clubhouse In…the FUTURE!!!!!!! suffers often from this. The FYL Legion was so radical a shift of tone — what else can one say about a series that makes the deliberately goofball characters in the Substitute Legion into a guerilla task force? — that it was almost designed to alienate a chunk of the reader base. The stories were rather good much of the time, but as a direction I think it badly damaged the Legion in the longer term. But the changing tone of science fiction and fantasy in general were likely to do that anyway.

I thought Marvel’s policy was that a gay character could not be a lead. So Northstar could be in comics, and even Wiccan and Hulkling or Xavin and Karolina Dean could date, but they had to be co-stars in books and never have say, a Northstar boox that wasn’t also a MAX title. For example, they could not produce this week’s Detective Comics, with Batwoman as the lead.
Despite what Marvel says about their policy, they still have not released a book starring a gay comic. Granted, they don’t really have any A-list gay heroes.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Does anyone else read Element Lad’ dialogue with a Rat Pack kind of inflection, or maybe a Jimmy Cagney/Edward G. Robinson sort of thing? “I have to doll! Drive yourself home! Nyeah, see, nyeah!”

Well put James, because if you alter DeathUrge’s comment just slightly it points out his ridiculousness (is that okay to say, JohnCage? Is it alright to call people “ridiculous”?)

I’m so sick of the BLACK PEOPLE focus in modern media. Does it have to be in comics as well?

No matter how “far” people think we “should go” as a society, BLACK PEOPLE will always be unnatural and deviant.

Much to the chagrin of the BLACK PEOPLE who demand that we A) accept them and B) tolerate/condone their actions.

See. Ridiculous.

And, Brian, thanks as always to a great and inclusive, article.

>In short, behavior (homosexuality) can’t be equated with a genetic trait (e.g., skin color).

No, it can´t. However, we should not conclude that homosexuality, not being a genetic trait, is just a matter of option or a kind of behavior, as some people would like to conclude. Culture can be as determinative as genetics, and in some cases, far more powerful.

For example: language is a cultural trait. There´s no “english gene” in your DNA pool that enables this particular language instead of, say, portuguese or chinese. However, to any of you native english-speakers it´s a unavoidable and unarguable fact that you can´t stop speaking english. It´s your native tongue: even if you move out to another country, even if you mastered another language to the point where you think in the adopted tongue, for the rest of your life, you will be able to understand english and speak it too… even if your proficiency tends to suffer from a certain decay due to the lack of exposition to native speakers.

So, just because homosexualism is a cultural trait, it doesn´t mean it is a matter of option, or a “choice behavior”. A homosexual preference for partners of the same gender is a cultural imprint just as unavoidable as his ability to speak in his mother tongue. With the difference that anyone can learn to speak another language, and that´s always a valid mind-opening experience. But forcing homosexuals into hetero relationships that go against their desires and innermost will is just a brutal and painful abuse.

And, by the way: all the scientific babble aside, our society is grounded in the idea that all men and women are equal and have the same rights to pursue happiness. A century ago, “scientific data” would prove that black men had inferior I.Q.s, were more prone to crime and should note have the same rights as white citizens… like being able to elect a president, for example. Gladfully, we now live in more enlightened times, were racism is seem as what it is, and not as “legitimate studies”. Gays, however, still suffer from the same prejudices, persecution, difamation and segregation that black man suffered before them… and jews before that, and protestants before that, and christains before that…

Homosexuals deserve to be respected, and deserve to enjoy the same rights as everybody else. Saying homosexualism is “deviant” is no less offensive than saying black men are inherently stupid. Saying homosexualism should not be condoned, is no different than fighting to preserve the segregation. It´s not the discourse of values, it´s not about family. It´s about division, intolerance and hate. And I will always stand against that, hopefully not alone.

Oh, and danjack… I´m glad that, as a shy guy you really related to Jan in those old issues. But did you ever thought about the gay kids who could also have related to him? Gays read comics too. And they have far less heroes representing them as the “shy guy” demographic…

Peace and love to all.

Fred2 said:
“Just pointing out the big hole in using the animal kingdom to justify human homosexuality.”

The thing is, homosexuality doesn’t need to be justfied, because it is not a choice. Only choices need justification.

Homosexuality isn’t a choice, just as heterosexuality isn’t a choice – I never made the decision to like girls, I just do. I understand if someone else happens to prefer boys because, hey, half the population on Earth likes boys (and I’m very glad that my girlfriend belongs to that half). :D

It’s insane to treat homosexualism as a “lifestyle choice”, and anyone who does so should be asked about the moment when they chose THEIR sexual preferences.

“Out of my element romancing girls”?

Couldn’t that just have meant that he was shy?

I don’t think we are actually disagreeing, Brian. I was really addressing the notion that that line was the ONLY thing that Legion fandom and Keith Giffen & the Bierbaums were basing “Element Lad is gay” on.

Peace.

Ah, gotcha, Jeff!

Then yes, we are not in disagreement. :)

During the Giffen and Bierbaum’s run they never said that Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet were a couple or that Element Lad was gay (or bisexual) but both were heavily implied. I think it would be easier to get it past the powers that be if they just implied it rather than said it explicitly.

Another popular theory among Legion fandom was not necessarily that Element Lad was gay but that he didn’t have the same equipment as humans.

Whether or not homosexuality is natural or not isn’t really relevant. Wearing clothes isn’t natural either. There are lots more “icky” things people do all the time like try to push their morality on others.

LouReedRichards

June 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm

What exactly is so “ignorant” of asking people in 1970 if they want to read more about black people?

I’m not saying it’s not a little jarring to us today, but in 1970 things were different and not all regions of the country had any real exposure to black people on a regular basis.

I’m a Southerner (feel free to insert “ignorant” comment/geographic stereotype here – we’re used to it) and if I had been alive in 1970 I don’t think I would be in regular face to face contact with blacks on a regular basis, that’s not some statement of “white pride” or anything bigoted, just a simple fact. I think a lot of the country would have been like that (excluding the large metropolitan areas like new York, L.A., Chicago etc.). It seems to me that DC was just trying to see what they could do to be more inclusive/sell more comics.

It might seem laughable now, but in 1970 I think it was a decent question to ask.

How many people on this board were alive in 1970, how many black people did you have exposure to as friends and colleagues on a regular basis?

Actually I’m more concerned about the number of people receiving comics from their enemies…

LouReedRichards

June 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm

BTW: It seems like you Legion people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the sexual angle on your heroes. ; ) I kid, I kid.

“Shvaughn” is my favorite mangling of the perfectly good Irish name “Siobhan”, which is my daughter’s name. I will lay odds that Paul Levitz heard the name, liked it but never saw it written down, and just guessed at the spelling. It’s a damn sight better than “Shavon”, a spelling popular in the…urban community.

I am always amazed at the incredible increase in messages when controversial topics are discussed on boards, blogs and the like. Often it’s because the article gets mentioned on a board that deals with said topic (either pro or con) and all those people come on to Make Sure Their Voice Is Heard on this Important Topic. I always fear the type on my screen will veer to one side like the bridge of the Enterprise as the thread veers madly off course.

I found it neat that Legion started to discuss such topics back in the day, but I have to admit, even then I thought the Shvaughn/Sean thing to have been a stretch. Not because I had a problem with the topic, but because it just seemed so out of left field. It felt much more like something done to make a plot point than make logical sense. I accepted it, but it passed the “Oh Come On” threshold for me.

As for Northstar’s outing in Alpha Flight, I have always loved the fact that in the second printing of the issue, the Alpha Flight logo was bright lavender.

Annoyed Grunt

June 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm

It’s kind of odd that comics are the reverse of the usual slippery slope argument. Jimmy Olsen married a gorilla and 40 years later gays are running rampant in the DC universe. Rampant, I say!

It seems we still need this survey, but with “Gay People” instead of “Black People.”

AMIRITE? WACKITY SCHMACKITY DOOOO!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm

So…no one has any thoughts on the dystopic vs. utopic conception of sci-fi and what that may have done to the Legion?

I’m not saying it’s not a little jarring to us today, but in 1970 things were different and not all regions of the country had any real exposure to black people on a regular basis.

I still don’t have real exposure to black people on a regular basis. But I live in the woods and shoot at passersby. Get offa mah property.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I was exposed to a black person once, and the police threw me in jail for lewd conduct. Remember, kids, skinny-dipping may sound fun, but it can have real consequences.

@jefhamlin I do not begrudge the gay teens thier role models. As hard as it is to be straight teen thought gay because he can’t attract a girlfriend, I imagine that actually being a gay teen is even harder. However, I’m still offended that everyone assumed Element Lad gay just because he lacked the necessary self-confidence to “make his move” with Dream Girl.

A few quick points.

1. After he was outed in ALPHA FLIGHT #106, Northstar got his own 4 issue mini series. It should be noted that this mini series carried the Comics Code, and was therefore suitable for kids/all ages.

2. Like THE TRUTH mini series, the MAX RAWHIDE KID mini series was nothing more then a “controversial” stunt done to grab mainstream media attention (which it succeeded in doing) and to sell lots of comics (which it DID NOT succeed in doing).

3. Like others have said, the “outing” of Element Lad was nothing more then a desire on the part of “fans turned pro” to make their misinterpretation of that one panel a part of the characters back story. It’s fan fiction at it’s worse. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knew that Element Lad was clearly shy in that panel and NOT gay. It’s this same kind of ignorant reasoning why Axel Alonso justified making Rawhide Kid gay. IIRC, Alonso said in an interview that Rawhide Kid being shy around women was a clear indication that he was gay. Of course, this is the kind of stupid crap one can expect from Alonso, who is quoted in the solicitation for the MAX CAGE mini series as saying that book (not an exact quote) “has everything for the hip hop generation like guns,drugs,cussing,and big bootys”.

I’m of two minds regarding homosexuality in superhero comics: on the one hand, I’m not morally opposed to it in real life, and in fact I have gay friends.

However, EVERY time it happens in the comics, people make a big deal out of it, forgetting that superheroes are about more important (and interesting) things. We don’t read superheroes to find about their intimate lives (if you do, you’re focusing on the wrong genre). Not that comics cannot be about sexuality (or religion, politics, or any other important if controversial issues) and there are, in fact, some very good comics that explore all of these subjects. It’s just that the world of superheroics, where even death is a non-issue, doesn’t strike me as the best place to do it. In my opinion, gay heroes shouldn’t be treated any differently from straight ones, and that includes calling attention to their sexuality.

LouReedRichards
June 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I’m a Southerner (feel free to insert “ignorant” comment/geographic stereotype here – we’re used to it) and if I had been alive in 1970 I don’t think I would be in regular face to face contact with blacks on a regular basis

==========

Actually, as a white, you’d have been more likely in 1970 to have regular face to face contact with a black in the South (and especially the rural South) than anywhere else. And, more often than not, it would have been cordial.

A white person in the Northeast (say, NYC, where Marvel was based) having a black neighbor, on the other hand, would have been just about unheard of – and usually grounds for that white person to either move or try to “persuade” the black person to move.

So a guy calling himself “DEATHURGE” is preaching morality. Very self-aware guy.

Now DC could have their survey ask how interested you are in reading about fags, and since apparently 90% of the remaining audience is gay, the response would be overwhelmingly “I’m very interested.”
When will they learn that making characters like Rawhide kid gay, just for the sake of making him gay, is about as interesting and relevant as stupid crap like making Harvey Dent a black guy in the 1989 Batman film?
Superhero comics aren’t about sexuality, they’re about muscular good looking people in spandex jumping around and wrestling with each oth-… oh, wait maybe they are all about gays after all.

uh…

Marvel should start a gayverse! Do an entire re-boot of all their existing titles, but make all the characters gay. Peter Parker could be in love with Flash Thompson! Thor could be hammering the Hulk! The avengers could re-decorate the mansion! Half their titles could stay the same, just get guys like Grant Morrison to write them!
Joey the Q (Q?) should get on this right away! it’s gold!

@Sijo:

Unfortunately, you are correct in a lot of cases; fortunately, there are a number of examples that would prove you wrong. Marc Andreyko’s Manhunter (now appearing in Streets of Gotham) featured “incidentally gay” characters like Obsidian and, in a flash-forward, Kate Spencer’s son. I felt that Hulkling and Wiccan’s relationship has always been portrayed in terms similar to a heterosexual relationship (a plus). There are others but it’s late and I’m sleepy and can’t think of them.

The reason gay characters are often portrayed as “a big deal” is because, as we’ve seen in comments here, there is still some controversy surrounding the private lives of certain individuals. This is, and should be, fodder for stories. But there should also be the ability to write gay characters without standing on a soapbox and, as attitudes about homosexuality are becoming increasingly progressive, we’re beginning to see that, too.

@joe Schmoe2 Harvey Dent wasn’t cast “Black” to be “relevant.” Billy Dee Williams, like all the actors cast as city officials in 1989′s “Batman,” was chosen for his physical resemblance to famous NYC politicians.

Hey Bob,
Harvey Dent isn’t a famous NYC politician. He’s a character from Batman comic books, and it just so happens that character is white. Are you going to tell me next that Alicia Masters was changed to a black character in the Fantastic Four movies because of her resemblance to famous NYC artists?

I would imagine that, within the slash fiction community, Tom and Mary Bierbaum must be revered as Gods on Earth. “For one brief shining moment, we got to run the show!”

As bad as the Element Lad thing was, changing Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass was even dumber. “Hey these two straight female characters got short haircuts and started hanging out together! We all know what that means!”

Brian,

I think you can find somewhere on the net that T&M Biernbaum really thought that Element Lad was gay – but the comic book itself leave it much more open. In fact, at that time, and given the more reflexive and spiritual tone E-Lad had at the best of all Legion eras, I really thought he was non-sexual or (in “Earth” terms) at least bissexual). He seemed much more interested in what the person had spiritually than physically. So I think they gave us a much more radical and bold idea than a simple “he is gay” solution in the end.
And this is also noticeable at the nuanced relationship between Vi(ex-straight) and Ayla (who was probably bi also). Much better than some of those screamed-at-you scenes, as if bein gay was something to be amazed/ashamed at.
Thing is: I can’t find a book like that Legion among super-heroes anymore. In that sense, DC has retroceded decades. And I loved Michael P’s comment on Johns retconning the real Legion out. Just perfect.

@joe schmoe2
No, Billy Dee Williams resembles a famous NYC DA, that’s why he was cast to play Harvey Dent.

An added item: do you guys read any superhero book out of DC or Marvel that are able to entice MATURE conversations like TMK’s Legion?

The Drizzt
June 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm
LouReedRichards
June 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I’m a Southerner (feel free to insert “ignorant” comment/geographic stereotype here – we’re used to it) and if I had been alive in 1970 I don’t think I would be in regular face to face contact with blacks on a regular basis

==========

Actually, as a white, you’d have been more likely in 1970 to have regular face to face contact with a black in the South (and especially the rural South) than anywhere else. And, more often than not, it would have been cordial.

===============================
Well, “theDrizzt” unless you yourself are a Southerner from that era, don’t you dare presume to judge anyone’s likelihood of having contact. I DID live in the South in 1972 (just two brief years after the survey; prior to that, I lived in El Paso, TX) and I had very infrequent contact with Blacks, even at school. While schools were officially desegregated, the reality in my hometown was that my elementary school had NO blacks in my grade (and none in the other grades that I can recall). In Junior High and High School, I did come into contact with Black kids, but ONLY at school (no Blacks in my church as most churches were segregated by choice) and it was very rare that the black and white kids interacted in social groups. I did see blacks working and shopping at the stores, but that wasn’t really the same as having “regular face to face contact”.
When I lived in El Paso, my dad was in the military and I came into contact with more black kids in elementary school than I did in Alabama (in fact, our next-door neighbors in EP were an interracial couple–black husband, white German-born wife–and I got along very well with their kids, despite the fact they were both a few years older than me).

John Byrne’s Superman re-boot,TMK’s fan fiction,and the Mark Waid re-boots, nearly killed the Legion and it’s fandom!

You’re absolutely right, Ricardo – the Bierbaums and Giffen are both on record as saying they think of Element Lad as gay, but yeah, in the comic, it is left vague enough that he could be omni-sexual or what have you.

Also, on another note, I’m done with Joe Schmoe.

Why do people always feel the need to use us blacks when trying to make a point about gay people? Nothing against gay people but they’re their own people with their own struggle and I hate this way people keep conveniently trotting us out as a parallel whenever they want to make a point about gays.

wildwolfkid
June 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

John Byrne’s Superman re-boot,TMK’s fan fiction,and the Mark Waid re-boots, nearly killed the Legion and it’s fandom!

However, I don’t think Johns is doing it any better – his L3W is anything, but Legion. In fact, TMK’s saved the Legion, but their bar was impossible to be continued. So, DC decided to dumb them down. And THAT’S what killed the Legion – even saleswise.

On another point regarding DC’s survey, everyone really should bear in mind that this survey came at a period when Blacks were a fairly rare sight on television.
There was Bill Cosby on “The Bill Cosby Show” (which came on the heels of his run on “I Spy”). (Point of note: The Saturday morning “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” show was still a couple of years away from airing.) There was Greg Morris on “Mission Impossible”. There was Clarence Williams III on “The Mod Squad”. “Hogan’s Heroes” lost Ivan Dixon, replacing him with Kenneth Washington. There was Diahann Carroll on “Julia”. Flip Wilson debuted that year with his variety show. Teresa Graves and Chelsea Brown were regulars on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”. Lloyd Haynes and Denise Nicholas were dealing with high school students on “Room 222″. These were the main regulars on network tv in 1970 (I’m not sure whether I should include Arthur Duncan from “The Lawrence Welk Show”–a Black man tapdancing doesn’t really seem all that noteworthy, especially as he tended to be somewhat segregated from the rest of the cast). Most shows featured blacks in guest roles or in background shots (the younger-skewed the series was, the more likely it would have a more, um, colorful background). But daytime television was still largely the province of white skin, whether soap operas or game shows (game shows were more likely to better represent the “real” America, but they still weren’t very diverse). And far too many shows where Blacks did appear tended to get a little too preachy (i.e., a “Bewitched” episode where we discover Darren has a black co-worker whose daughter, while playing with Tabitha, is mistaken for Darren’s daughter by a bigoted white client–and this was a Christmas episode, just to make it even more glurgy).

T. , how about this? Blacks are a minority who for a long time were treated deplorably by the majority. Gays are a minority who for a long time were treated deplorably by the majority.

These are all fictional characters, people. I love how people go on and on about internal consistency when it means portraying a previously straight or asexual character as gay, or a previously white character as a different ethnicity, but they have no problem at all with accepting, as Steven Grant said in his column a few weeks ago, a character going from “a scientist using his villain uncle’s technology to possessing a magic sword from his ancestor that turned out to be an evil soul-eating magic sword to getting turned to stone and ending up in the Crusades in the body of another ancestor before magically sleeping for 1500 years and being dug up in modern day…” etc, etc. They can accept retcons of Hal Jordan that take him from straight arrow type to serial womanizer to ex-drunk, to villain, to spirit of vengeance, to spirit of redemption, to victim of possession, back again to teetotaller, to former military man…but if someone showed him making out with another man- why, that would be OUT OF CHARACTER! How dare they!! You’re not fooling anyone with your own prejudices, guys.

By the way, in the real world, there are numerous people, male and female, who have lived apparently-heterosexual lives for years before falling in love with members of the same sex. Some of them have been in denial, and some of them are actually -gasp- bisexual. The fact that Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass (fictional characters) were depicted as dating men in no way precludes them eventually dating each other. Same goes for Element Lad (who was not even called gay in those issues, btw- his relationship with Erin was depicted as relationships in the real world have occurred- where two people in a relationship stay together after one of them decides to get gender reassignment.

Finally, regarding the “gay gene”: is there such a thing? Probably not. Of course, there’s no such thing as a “blond hair gene” or a “blue eye gene,” either. People’s ignorance of the actual mechanics of genetics is astounding and entirely reductionist. The vast majority of complex genetic characteristics are caused by multiple genes. What we are comes from the complex relationship among those different genes as well as hormones, diet, etc. The fact that there might not be a “gay gene” in no way proves that being gay is some sort of “choice.” Most likely, whether someone is strictly straight, strictly gay, or (as history and anthropology have demonstrated time and time again is most likely) some combination of the above, is based on a combination of factors, including genetic ones. Why it should MATTER, of course, when gay people aren’t negatively impacting your lives other than making you go, “that’s icky!” is another story.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Why do people always feel the need to use us blacks when trying to make a point about gay people? Nothing against gay people but they’re their own people with their own struggle and I hate this way people keep conveniently trotting us out as a parallel whenever they want to make a point about gays.

I think it’s less that blacks are the go-to parallel than it is that the notion of civil rights in America more generally seems to have become oddly synonymous with movements dominated by black Americans. The Civil Rights movement and the associated Acts in 1964 and 1968 benefitted and included more than just American blacks, but do we really remember Cesar Chavez or even the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965?

Frankly, if you’re looking for a successful struggle for changes to civil rights law to model your struggle on, your choices in America are women’s suffrage — barely remembered at this late date in the popular imagination — or the predominantly black civil rights struggles of far more recent times. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are cultural and historical touchstones; by contrast, Susan B. Anthony is best remembered for a discontinued coin and virtually no one recalls the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Lucy Stone. It extends to the rest of the culture, too: almost everyone can name a few 1960s era civil rights anthems, and few would consider them laughable. Name a womens’ rights song that isn’t Helen Reddy’s campily regarded material; hell, name even a single bit of art linked to womens’ suffrage or any other civil rights movement since the American Revolution itself that isn’t the black movements of the previous century.

I suppose the alternative is to avoid any historical analogue, but that’s giving up a powerful rhetorical tool that’s essentially ubiquitous in American political discourse. If Saddam needs to go because he’s just like Hitler, the U.S. needs to leave Iraq because it’s just like Vietnam, and the Reflections need the car for dates because they’re just like Romeo and Juliet, then gays can argue for civil parity because they’re just like Jim Crow era blacks.

Imagine how the gay black Jews feel!

“…there is still some controversy surrounding the private lives of certain individuals. ”

Um- no, not really. The controversy is when some individuals define themselves by what they do in the bedroom. I don’t want to know that you may be polyamorous, and have two husbands, or whatever. You may be born that way, it may be a choice- whatever.

It isn’t a trait defined by the way you look- which is where the whole “gay is today’s black movement” argument falls apart for me.

Do what you want in your bedroom, so long as it involves consenting adults. Otherwise, leave me out of it.

About Northstar….I remember an Alpha Flight scene (Ican’t remember the exact issue, but I think it was shortly after Manto took over) that, to me, pointed him as being gay. He made a comment about a character beginnning to wear a costume. Aurora replied to something along the lines of “Oh like that would realy bother you.”

The whole gay issue in comics really seems forced. In DC it seems like ever new adult female character is gay. The writing feels forced with these characters. Oh course I feel that the writing in general of all comics has greatly decreased since the early ’80′s.

Boatman, I appreciate your nuanced and brave stance regarding people’s rights to “keep things in the bedroom.” I have no doubt that you loudly shame heterosexuals who wear wedding rings, teenagers who hold hands on the street, and high schools that throw proms. Oh, wait- yeah, I do kind of doubt that. If you’re going to be prejudiced, at least have the courage of your convictions. Don’t say you’re “fine with something,” when you’re essentially saying, “People can do what they want as long as they live in hiding.”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 26, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Don’t worry, Boatman, I’m sure no one will ever involve you in their amorous activities.

Andrew Collins

June 26, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Imagine how the gay black Jews feel!

You kid, but I had a co-worker who was black, gay, and Buddhist, and boy did he feel very isolated in life…

Andrew Collins

June 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Lightning Lass is pretty clearly still with Timber Wolf, not Violet. I still think that’s the most disappointing thing about the revived Legion – there was some really cool stuff from the Giffen run and it’s a pity to see it being ignored.

Which is a little weird. I know Light(ning) Lass and Timber Wolf were one of the longtime couples in Legion lore, but they had long since broken up before Legion made the “Five Year Jump” to the Giffen/Bierbaum stories and Lass and Shrinking Violet had already hooked up by that point, as established by Levitz. So, if Johns and DC are ignoring the 1989 Legion series, it still doesn’t make the lesbian couple non-canon. Oh well, I gave up a while ago at trying to understand Legion continuity. Wonderful characters forever ruined by a few boneheaded editorial decisions in the late 80′s/early 90′s…

As a long-time Legion fan, I didn’t mind Element Lad being bisexual – technically not straight or gay. It was WELL within his character as portrayed before 5YL for him to be open to ALL kinds of relationships.

What really turned me against the 5YL material about EL is the perverse need to warp Shavaugn Erin into Sean, to show this side of Jan. They could have easily had him find a relationship with a new or existing male character.

Besides, it screams “security risk” for the Science Police to allow someone their own PHYSICALS would show was masquerading as the opposite sex onto the force – and given the state of medical technology by the time the 5YL material was written, there would have been no logical reason for “Sean” to use a prescription drug to cause such a change, as opposed to a surgical option. In fact, such a drug would have most likely been illegal, except for use to put agents undercover, due to the ability to alter ones sex for less-than-legal reasons temporarily (blackmail, murder, etc.).

The whole “Sean” debacle had logic holes big enough to fly Warworld through….

Trying to remember: were these the same writers who turned the Forever People into clones, who procreated freakish monsters, when such problems with clones weren’t even an issue with TWENTIETH century Clone tech????

@Vinnie:

I found it neat that Legion started to discuss such topics back in the day, but I have to admit, even then I thought the Shvaughn/Sean thing to have been a stretch. Not because I had a problem with the topic,

Ditto. In fact, I’ll go you one better – I actively WANT more gay and transgendered characters – but I think the Shvaughn/Sean thing was badly handled – botched, even. It’s simply quite unfortunate that the one transgendered character in the series wasn’t really transgendered, but a closeted gay man.

Good comments from James and LegionLover.

But does anyone really think Geoff Johns is going to allow a gay character in the Legion? Oh no, my mistake, instead he will turn him into a security guard for the legion, show him in one panel every six months, and never have any character mention him, or show him interact with members of the team, or get him to help fight the bad guys…. even though he is meant to be ‘guarding’ them. And incase no one gets what I’m talking about…. Just check out his appalling treatment of Obsidian in JSA.

Also, did someone say chuck dixon has a problem with gays? please say it ain’t so. I love his writing, and if I remember correctly he did an xmen story featuring Northstar, that had a character (a costar – cant remember) coming to terms with the fact that he had to be around a gay person. And it was a great story.

@Bob: That’s Light Lass with your role model, not Dream Girl.

I remember the survey about black people in comics. At the time I thought it was a good idea as it might get DC to include black heroes in their books. That the reactions to the survey is so different today show that even if we only have come a little way towards getting rid of racism, a lot has happened in the last thirty odd years.
I also remember liking Hero for Hire when it came out, but was amazed to see that here in Sweden Luke Cage’s name was changed to “Jet Black”. I kid you not.

@Faust Chuck Dixon is one of the most overtly and openly anti-gay creators in comics. He is also one of the biggest cowards when it comes to being confronted about his comments. You shouldn’t support him or his work.

And the story you’re thinking of was written by Scott Lobdell as part of the Eve of Destruction storyline (it’s available as part of the trade.)

And to the Legion fans, as a gay man who liked the idea of EL as gay, I was confused and unhappy with the Shavugn/Sean storyline so I can understand people’s frustration there/

Just my 2 cents

@ Chris Stansfield: Don’t assume all of us comics fans flatly accept all the character reinventions. I’m with Grant in that the changes made to Black Knight and Hal Jordan were perfect examples of “we have no idea what to do next with the character” and they deserve to be criticized as much as an unexpected sexuality change. Element Lad had enough room in his backstory to make the revelation that he was gay acceptable, for example; on the other hand, not only was Kathy Kane (Batwoman) not gay, she had a major crush on Batman! She was also most definitely *not* a Badass, which makes her recent reinvention- completely with a hair color change!- a completely new character in everything but name. So, why not do just that- create a new character who happens to be gay? Better yet, how about developing the character *first* so that she’s interesting on her own before revealing she’s gay, so that people don’t feel being a Lesbian is the only thing that makes her stand out among the other Bat-heroes?

Wow. I am amazed how much you know of me from one small statement.

I am amazed at the level of intollerance in those who claim to be the most tolerant.

My point was that Gay rights is not the same struggle as Black rights, because skin color is apparant from a casual glance. I can’t tell by looking at someone what their sexual preference is.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 7:49 am

I don’t think of the Kathy Kane currently appearing as being the same character as the original; for one thing, I’m fairly sure the original version would have to still be around in continuity, since Bette Kane keeps turning up and Bronze Tiger presumably still feels guilty about something.

My big problem with the Kathy Kane Greg Rucka has created is that she seems to be a second version of his Renee Montoya in many respects. Maybe the Religion of Crime is just really hung up on gay women?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 7:54 am

My point was that Gay rights is not the same struggle as Black rights, because skin color is apparant from a casual glance.

To which the counterpoint is that gay rights is the same struggle as black rights, because both groups are really arguing about what they consider basic and universal human rights.

In any case, following the Civil War (and thereby predating the modern civil rights movement) the legal standard of race was the so-called “one drop” standard, in which appearance didn’t matter. One drop of “non-white” blood and you weren’t white. So yes, a great many of the people discriminated against by Jim Crow laws were “not apparent from a casual glance.” Indeed, the discrimination was all about things their parents or grandparents were doing in the bedroom.

But frankly, I think your point is moot if we don’t simply beget the question “are gay rights a form of civil rights?” Does it matter how visible the reason is if the problem is unequal access to legal and social privileges or capacities?

Light Lass, Dream Girl,…does nothing to change my point.

@ Sijo: And your point is absolutely valid. If that’s your general stance, that’s perfectly legit. My point was that a lot of people who take that view when its convenient to them, saying it’s more of an outrage to retcon characters based on their sexuality (or, in the case of media transitioning, race, gender, etc) are using that excuse to mask their own bigotry. If, as you allow, a character has “room” in his/her background for those changes, and you can accept it, than I can’t imagine anyone calling you a hypocrite. That said, the new Batwoman is just that- a new Batwoman. She isn’t Kathy Kane. They’ve taken great pains to call her by a new name, “Kate” and to give her different colored hair, etc. The old Kathy kane was a circus performer. The new Kate Kane is a socialite, etc.

@ Boatman: I don’t know anything about you except your statement, and that was more than enough to make my point. I don’t know what you look like, how old you are, where you’re from- but I know that you, by your own words, think your personal desire not to see what you don’t like is worth more than other people’s right to be honest with themselves and with the world.

As for my “intolerance”: Despite its current, fashionable use as a rhetorical device to make people who seek to deny others of their rights look like abused victims, “tolerance” has never been about accepting those who would do harm to others. It’s about understanding that people who AREN’T doing any harm have the right to do what they want with their lives. Webster’s definition of tolerance: “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own.” Note the first two words- “fair” and “objective.” It is no more necessary to be tolerant of someone calling for gays to stay in the closet to be a tolerant person than it is to “tolerate” someone burning a cross on a lawn or showing up to someone’s funeral with a sign that says “God hates fags.”

Your statement that gay rights isn’t the same thing as black rights because gayness is “invisible” is irrelevant. I can’t tell by looking at you whether or not you’re a Christian, but I know you’d scream bloody murder if I said it was okay for people to deny Christians the same rights we give Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.

Karl Popper: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Sorry guys, I have to agree with T. Comparing gays to blacks is completely inappropriate. Gays are only prejudiced when their public behavior draws attention to their being gay. Blacks are prejudiced regardless of their behavior. If a gay man doesn’t want to be treated unfairly for being gay he can stay in the closet. He shouldn’t have to, but he can. A black man cannot hide the fact that he is black whether he wants to or not. I’m quite sure almost all would choose not to hide it, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can’t. Gays and blacks are even further apart than apples and oranges and to compare the two is a disservice to both.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

A black man cannot hide the fact that he is black whether he wants to or not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_(racial_identity)

Bob, I´m sorrry to say, but you´re very very wrong.

First, gays aren´t “only prejudiced when their public behavior draws attention to them being gay”. They are prejudiced when theirs spouses die and they are denied right to heritage or to have the guard of their children. They are prejudiced when they buy a health plan and cannot extend the rights to healthcare to their same-sex dependant. They are prejudiced when their lifestyle is seem as “aberrant”, “devious”, “unnatural” and their rights are deemed less relevant than anyone else, just because they´re gay. Hiding in the closet cannot prevent gay man from being treated unfairly. Quite the opposite: the need to stay in the closet is already unfair.

Second, the idea that “a black man cannot hide the fact that he is black” is another great mistake. Race is another social construct. History is pretty full of people who have black heritage, but are generally considered white. In fact, if you take a look at “African Ancestry of the White American Population”, a study by professor Robert Stuckert of the Ohio State University first published in 1958, 21% of the white american population of the time had significant black ancestry. That means that, for every five white people you met, one could be considered black. And that was in 58, well before racial integration, and the end of segregation laws and the inter-marriage ban.

You´re right, however, when you infer that gays and blacks have different problems and issues. For example, gays usually don´t suffer from the same economic limitations, as a demographic, that blacks do. But, even if there are specific gay issues, and specific black issues to be dealt with, the problem of intolerance and the universality civil rights is something that goes beyond gender, race, religion or sex. I´m not comparing the struggle of gays and blacks… I´m comparing gays, blacks, woman, jews, protestants, latins, comic book geeks and every other group that was ever oppressed, prejudiced, persecuted or deprived of rights. And I´m reminding that this is everyone´s problem, and everyone´s struggle.

One has to be careful about Element Lad… he was the sole survivor of his race. Maybe his being ‘out of his element” (other than being a bad pun) referred to the fact that nobody knew what it was like to date a member of the Trommite people. If he was the only one left, I am sure he felt ‘out of his element’ a lot, and it doesn’t have to do with being shy or gay or whatever….

DC Comics and Marvel Comics have really never presented a story that doesn’t fall on stereotypes. That survey and the dearth of diversity from the beginning shows the industry standards of the time. DC’s attempt to reach out to their audience was nothing more than a marketing scheme, a ploy to address the theme of the year with the goal of bringing in more money, nothing more.

Comics always have been (and more than likely will continue to be) about the ideals of the dominant sector of the population in America– fit, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male. Anything else is a token and tends to lean towards stereotype, whether it’s the Falcon, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Tyroc, or Northstar.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 1:18 pm

And you know, yen4zen, that may be true…but it doesn’t mean anyone should stop trying to improve matters.

theDrizzt

I’m a Southerner (feel free to insert “ignorant” comment/geographic stereotype here – we’re used to it) and if I had been alive in 1970 I don’t think I would be in regular face to face contact with blacks on a regular basis
—————————————————————————————————————————————

I have lived in the South for all of my 48 years (Texas). I’ve lived in Dallas, Beaumont, Houston, and now Irving. In all those cities I have gone to school, worked and lived on the same streets as African-Americans. (or Black folks if you want to use that term.) And it was in the 60′s, 70′s, and so forth. My elementary school in Beaumont (1969) was about 70% white to 30% Black. So I am speaking from the reality of someone who has more time in the south in the 70′s. My best friends in the 2nd grade were Jesse & James Freeman. (I bet to this day they hate the choice of names these twins had.) In my High School (1975-1979)inter-racial dating was considered as no big deal, nor was men dating men or women dating women. I have never felt it odd to interact with any minority be it Black, Latino, Gay, or any other minority you can name. I always thought it interesting that the schools I went to had a number of students bused in with no real problem. I just remember when there was busing came to Boston in the 70′s there were major protests and mini riots.

Despite what Marvel says about their policy, they still have not released a book starring a gay comic.

They have, however, put out team books like Young Avengers and Runaways. Runaways in particular has had some pretty interesting examinations of sexuality, especially as regards the relationship between Nico and Karolina.

“are gay rights a form of civil rights?”

I think an intelligent argument can be made that they are not, at least not in the manner that “civil rights” relates to the black experience.

Gays have never been systimatically enslaved. They have never been forbiden to vote. They have never had seperate drinking fountains or had to sit in the back of the bus, or a whole list of other wrongs perpetrated against a race of people.

So I think intelligent people could debate whether the gay “civil rights” expereince is synonomous with the black “civil rights” experience. And i don’t think going back to Civil War laws and behavior boosts your argument.

I am sorry Chris Stansfield that you aren’t interested in a dialogue, instead deciding that you know best and others must be silenced. You Webster’s definition would make my point- “…whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality…”. It is possible that my opinion, or my religion differ from your own. That doesn’t make me a bigot, or evil, or mean that I have a less valid position than you do.

You sir, do not know me. You do not know my position on anything. And to try to determine my belief system based on one statement is idiotic.

I brought up one point, and was personally attacked for it. I never said anything that would indicate my position of “gay rights”. Unless you have a mind reading super power. I can bring up a point of interest, even if it isn’t in line with my beliefs.

BTW- I thought the Chuck Dixon comment was interesting- I haven’t read or heard of any of Mr. Dixon’s comments, so I am unaware of them or his position. But others, on this same board, were chastising those who would besmirch Michael Jackson because of possible podephile tendancies, and say that the man’s art must be sepearted from the man’s behavior.

Apparantly this only applies to famous pop stars. Chuck Dixon should not have his work read (or even be condidered for an assignment, apparantly) because of statements he has made.

@Boatman How funny that you so vehemently attack people for pointing out the fallacy of your argument. In the same breath as you say you have a right to your opinion and point of view, you state very plainly that you don’t think gays and lesbians should be afforded their civil rights. You are correct that you are entitled to your OPINION, but you are not entitled to pass that opinion off as FACT. When you attack a group of people you’ve never met and appear to have no first hand knowledge of, you open yourself up to be similarly attacked.

Odd to, your desire to protect Mr. Dixon. While you may not be aware of his comments, they exist and a simple Google search would yield the information you are lacking (but, hey I don’t expect you to educate yourself on the issue, since you haven’t bothered to educate yourself about gay rights.) Mr. Dixon stated directly his opinions and clarified his bias, as such (much like yourself) these opinions are open to counter-point and debate. Michael Jackson was ACCUSED of being a pedophile. ACCUSED. He was never convicted (and he was tried twice) and your belief that he committed any wrong is your OPINION not FACT. I hope I don’t need to explain to you that people can be judged on their comments and public actions but cannot not be so judged based solely on unsubstantiated hearsay and accusations.

But then I’m not surprised that you defend yourself and others who are like minded but see only the need to attack and belittle those who are different from you.

My 2 cents anyway. (Oh and BTW these are my OPINIONS, not necessarily FACTS so attack me if you like, but know that I will never agree with or support messages of bigotry and hate.)

Adam Weissman

June 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm

A guy who’s screenname is Deathurge is talking about deviance….

Says it all, doesn’t it?

(Resisting the temptation to suggest that. Deathurge self-administer his passion…)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 5:30 pm

The problem with your argument, Boatman, is that “civil rights” as associated with the black experience is not just about slavery, but about equal access under the law.

Of particular note would be Loving v. Virginia, whose parallels with the arguments surrounding gay marriage ought to be apparent.

I think it’s hilarious that people with zero experience with sex, hetero or homo, can get so bent out of shape about the sex lives of fictional characters. BAZINGA

“Gays have never been systimatically enslaved. They have never been forbiden to vote. They have never had seperate drinking fountains or had to sit in the back of the bus, or a whole list of other wrongs perpetrated against a race of people.”

It’s never been illegal to be black. Unpleasant, yes, but you could never go to jail for it.

One is not more or less downtrodden than the other. Attempts by one group to out-suffer each other have always fascinated me.

Considering the amount of discussion gay characters has gotten in this thread, might I suggest an article about best, worst and most controversial gay characters in comics? I always liked the Pied Piper issue of Flash where he came out to Wally, and Wally took off like he was on fire. I think I even made the lettercol about that issue. And as for worst – Extraño, anyone?

“(is that okay to say, JohnCage? Is it alright to call people “ridiculous”?)”

As a matter of fact I take great umbrage to the use of the word ridiculous. Great umbrage. My umbrage has no bounds.

But anyway, I know a comic book website isn’t exactly the best kind of place to discuss homosexuality, but I wish it were possible to at least attempt some discourse without being disrespectful toward each other. I mean, who wins in that kind of situation. I personally have no problem with folks or fictional characters being gay, but I also know that people who do have a problem with that aren’t necessarily bad people — we just have differing opinions.

One of my closest friends has some pretty anti-gay opinions, but I still think he’s a decent guy. And I know I’m not going to be able to change his way of thinking by telling him he’s a backward thinking moron (even if, in all honestly, I probably have over the years). By that same token, I like to think I’m an okay guy too, so if you disagree with me there’s no need to rip on me. We’re all here because we like comics.

And I was kidding about the “ridiculous” bit. I just happen to like the word umbrage and seldom have use for it in my day-to-day conversation so I kind of went to town there to make up for that.

Have a good day.
John Cage

According to Al Gordon, Giffen wanted to kill Shvaughn off because he found the character boring, the whole “She’s a man!” thing was originally his idea.

Second, the idea that “a black man cannot hide the fact that he is black” is another great mistake. Race is another social construct. History is pretty full of people who have black heritage, but are generally considered white.

I’m pretty confident in saying that the percentage of gay people with the option of physically hiding their gayness if desired is WAAAAAAAAAAAAY higher than the percentage of black people with the option of physically hiding their blackness.

BUt my point here is not to say who has had it worse. My point is, stop acting like they’re such perfect parallels. Just because one person likes black people doesn’t mean they must, therefore be accepting of gays. And vice versa, just because one person likes gay people doesn’t mean they must therefore be accepting of blacks. It takes more than being an unpopular minority to suddenly be a perfect parallel.

Using a deliberately absurd extreme to make a point: American Nazis are an unpopular minority in America. So are blacks. If you accept blacks and refuse to judge and discriminate against them, you are silly for disliking American Nazis too.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 27, 2009 at 10:20 pm

T., I think you’re missing the reason the parallel is made: unlike the “unpopular Nazis = unpopular blacks” you present, one can make comparatively complex and multifaceted analogies between, say, the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws and the repeal of sodomy laws and DOMA.

Marriage and other modes of constructed (as opposed to birth) relationship occupy a rather weird place in American law anyway, as do the notions of benefits and insurance shares and so forth.

Omar, I see the point you are trying to make, but I’m still with T. on this. Comparing two different groups of people to each other only seems like a good idea until you attempt to look at things from the perspective of one of those groups.

Vinnie Bartilucci, while it is true that it has never been illigal to be Black in this country it is also true that many have been arrested for exactly that reason. Just tonight I’m sure several men across this country(and T, forgive me if I have low-balled this) have been arrested for precisely that reason. Being Black is not what any of them were charged with, but it is the reason they were arrested. The Amercan justice system has treated Blacks very unfairly even compared to other minorities, and continues to do so.

Actually, I think the best gay character in comics is Maggie Sawyer from the Superman line. She never once waved a purple flag but everyone knew and no one cared. She even had her partner appear on Superman The Animated Series…on Saturday morning no less…without invoking any protests that I am aware of. I realize that a supporting character is not the same as a lead, but she was a supporting character in SUPERMAN! Both the comics and the cartoon! Go Maggie!

Madison Carter

June 28, 2009 at 12:45 am

I want to go on record by saying that linking to Mr. Mangels’ “timeline” of events is skewed, untrue and unfair in at least one important (to myself, at least) regard, and that’s his continuing insistence that Marvel somehow demanded Rawhide Kid be put “back in the closet” via the Handbooks.

I am not fond of having to drudge through this topic yet again, but I want to make something perfectly clear: At NO point did Marvel, Joe Quesada or any other person or entity dictate, request, command — or anything else of that nature — that we do so, and as one of the writers of that book, I still don’t feel we did any such thing to begin with.

What we *DID* do was take a very long look at *ALL* of Rawhide’s appearances and put them into perspective. We had decades worth of stories where there was absolutely nothing in regards to Rawhide being gay. We had stories that took place chronologically (but printed long before, sometimes even decades) that gave no such impression. And placed in the middle of them in Rawhide’s timeline was this one series where he acted out of character.

Not gay, out of character. Go read the MAX series again. While the publicity surrounding the series stated it was a gay story, the story *itself* never did. He acted much more light-hearted and care-free than was the norm for him and did some things that, yes, could be seen as *stereotypically* gay, but at no point in the series does he actually do anything that would make him homosexual.

We don’t rewrite Marvel’s history to suit our own views. We take what is there and put it into context with its surrounding parts. That’s all.

Now here’s another part I want to make absolutely clear. As previously stated, I was one of the writers on this book and I am still with the Handbook team to this day. I am also a bisexual male. I want to that to be crystal clear. It plays a very important part in this, I think, because if anyone on our writing team would or should have been offended with how we worded that particular passage, it would have been me. But it didn’t. Again, I read the story, just like the writer who put together most of the entry and I felt and still feel that there was absolutely nothing wrong – in the context of the presentation of the MAX series in and of itself – in how it was done. Hell, in that very same 2006 Handbook series, we included a profile for Hulkling, which I wrote, and that was, to the best of my knowledge, the first actual confirmation within any of Marvel’s books that Hulkling and Wiccan were indeed gay. The Young Avengers books at the time were only giving hints and clues to it, never explicitly stating it. We also confirmed Jennifer Kale’s bisexuality just a few issues later in the same series, in the Witches profile, again something that was previously only hinted at.

I had hoped this was an issue that was dead and buried. I didn’t like having to defend it by outing myself then and I don’t like having to defend it now, but I will defend our decision to my grave. When the entry is reprinted/updated in an upcoming volume of our Hardcover editions (shill, shill), we will be rewording it to make things more clear. I’m not particularly happy about that either, because I personally feel that the series that “outed” the character should have been more explicit within itself instead of relying on marketing to make its case, but that’s neither here nor there now. I understand why it’s being done and I’m the one that pushed for it, and personally rewrote it, so that we can finally put this stupidity behind us.

Regardless, this long, drawn-out and long-winded rant has gone long enough. I just wanted to set the record straight on this particular issue. At least in terms of the Handbooks, there was never – NEVER – any sort of anti-gay policy. Ever. It was only a matter of us taking what was actually *IN* the stories and making them thread together in a way that made sense for the character. That’s all.

[...] Oh, and thanks to Brain Cronin (who I interviewed here) for pointing the survey out in his latest Comic Book Legends Revealed column. Actually I can’t remember the last time a Black-named character was created. Those [...]

Vic Natoli – yes, your right Scott Lobdell wrote that story (I dont know why I thought it was Dixon). I remember being so pissed that that cast of character didn’t stick around. That was a team I really wanted to continue reading about! ;)

Speaking of Lobdell? – where has he vanished to these days?

“let the market place be the judge. I do not care for homosexual characters.”

well, um…. I hate to burst anyone’s bubbles… but… the marketplace IS being the judge, and that’s why gay and lesbian characters are appearing more and more in comics.

And didn’t you know that most comic book super-hero characters, with their tight-fitting costumes and thick, muscular frames, are representations of the gay ideal? Didn’t you know that the simple act of reading a comic book bombards you with “gay” images, such as Bruce Wayne’s fascination with boys in tight circus outfits and his inability to get a woman to stay by his side? Oh, and Wonder Woman is from an island of women… I’m sure there’s plenty of sexual activity going on while we’re not looking at them, and it’s done without men!!.

It’s no wonder that people have claimed that comic books are the reason why so many kids turn gay in this day and age…

But you can relax… if gays are only 10% of the population, then you may only have to worry about which 10% of the comic book characters you like are gay. And don’t expect them to be out of the closet… most gay men aren’t. Lots of gay men are even married. Some have children, too. But it’s only a matter of time… that ‘gay bomb’ is ticking…

I also think that the point in Giffen & the Biembaum’s stort is that EL is not gay nor hetero, just sort of bisexual. He tells Shvaugh/Sean that changing into a woman really didn’t make a difference for him. He’s just a spiritual person that looks at the soul, not the physicial body (for he knosw how easily can mutate physical properties). In fact he’s become so spiritual he can’t love him, nor anyone else.

I don’t care frome where the idea of EL’s sexuality came from. Here it is a plot device for a beautifull and sad love story, IMHO, and one of my favorite FYL episodes. In the end what I’m interested in are good stories.

The “problem” with gay characters is that sometimes they become tokens characters used by their shock value (Pinky form the Howling Commandos, anyone?), but even when they are not some people will claim they are token characters by their shock value (Ultimate Colossus, anyone?).

BTW, Northstar’s orientation is *very* heavily hinted at very early on Byrne’s run, in his origin backup feature and in the “Mortal” Ernest epìsode. Lobdell just said it out loud.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 7:01 am

Hey, Madison — I tried to say what you ended up having to earlier, but I apologize if I got any of it wrong.

Needles to say, Westboro’s Baptist Church hates Marvel Comics and is glad Captain America died because it was divine punishment ;)

Madison Carter

June 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

No, Omar, it’s all good, you got it right.

George Liquor, American

June 28, 2009 at 9:52 am

As a good Conservative Republican, I believe government should stay small, and people should be free to persue his own individual definition of happiness away from the prying eyes of the Liberal Nanny State.

Unless consenting adults want to touch each other inside the butthole, then I’m agin it

Matthew Grayson

June 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

Although I’m happy that as a gay man I can have some role models or heroes I can relate to who are also gay, I also think that having a character continuously being pointed out as gay is wrong also. It seems we must constantly be reminded that Northstar is gay and all that is doing is causing him to appear abnormal or separate from any other hero. I love how Batwoman is being handled in Detective. We know she’s a lesbian, and we see her kiss another woman (on the cheek however) but she’s clearly shown as a person who is grounded and determined and just as much a hero as any other. Wiccan and Hulkling are good examples as well. Even Midnighter and Apollo perhaps.

A character who is presented as gay should be treated as any straight character, and that includes being able to have the character actually kiss or embrace his or her significant other and not shy away from it, but I understand that it may be a while before we have that in comics. Basically, as long as the character is treated with respect, and also not just “let’s have a gay character because it would be “cool” or “controversial,” it should be all right.

It’s funny, though, how it usually seems that it is either gay or straight and not bisexual, not to mention the sexual aspect is so often looked at. For example, I’m generally attracted sexually or physically to men, so I may define myself as “gay,” but I find I’m biamorous because I believe I could fall in love with a woman etc. etc.. Love isn’t looked at just sex, but in any case, too often people get caught up in the sex aspect of it or the plain definition of “gay” or “straight” when there can be a broader sense of the terms.

For Marvel,it does seem as though they are realizing that and incorporating it into their characters (skrull, at least) since both Young Avengers and Runaways could be seen as not just having gay or lesbian characters but transgendered/ transsexual characters. The Ultimate Colossus/ Northstar relationship has come along way from when even Northstar was hinted at having AIDS way back when. So often the only characters who were gay in Marvel were those who were dying or died from the disease. I would hope that being gay was not why they killed off Freedom Ring, but if it was, then there is definitely some issues that need to be addressed at the company.

DC did give us a nice look at Element Lad when “Erin” was revealed to satisfy fans of either persuasion. They had Jan essentially tell Erin that he looked at a person’s soul and not so much the flesh, giving a deeper “outing” as gay or bisexual, or simply that he fell in love who he fell in love with and gender wasn’t an issue with him in general. The relationship between Salu and Aayla was definitely insinuated if not confirmed, and I would hope that today’s writers could bring that back. I don’t think the characters need to say, “Look at us Legion. We are lesbians,” but like any straight couple, don’t be afraid to have them shown as being that.

DC had a nice idea of having one of their marketable characters as gay with Batwoman, but they shouldn’t have pointed it out so much. “Look! We have a GAY in our comics!” From there we got to see their “diversity” being more of an excuse for fan service than respect for a character. In “52″, Montoya was often seen in bed with a woman which would have been cool except it seemed gratuitous, especially when we would never see two men as naked and revealing as they were in the same situation. I feel they are coming around, even if it’s a long lost Bat-Family character and not Batgirl or Supergirl or Superboy who would be more recognizable. Not to mention the fact that everyone seems to forget that Wonder Woman is bisexual … even she admitted to a class she was lecturing on that she didn’t have a boyfriend, but she didn’t have a girlfriend either, but of course, they can’t have a big gun present a woman to her mother … at least not yet.

Ultimately, for those in concern, the only “agenda” gays have is being treated as people — treated as equals. We aren’t sexual deviants, any more than straight men and women should be labeled as such. You have people try to tell you that as a straight man you shouldn’t be attracted to women, that’s not going to happen, is it, and you might get defensive about it. Well, then you have a better idea of how we feel.

To those concerned about being compared to Blacks, yes, there are differences, definitely, but the similarity of the situation is that because we are “different”, and looked at as second-class citizens, we have been and are) persecuted and killed.

We just want to be recognized as human beings with the same rights and freedoms and live our lives openly and in peace.

When it comes to comic books, if we are going to see character depth and personality, and one’s sexual oriententaion is going to be written … if we are going to see Superman and Lois go ga-ga for each other … we just would appreciate seeing the reality that there are heroes who are gay who would do the same … and handled with as much respect as Clark and Lois, Garth and Imra, or even Peter and Mary-Jane … whatever reality they’re still a couple in. :P

At least that’s how I feel.

Call me crazy, but the difference between Rawhide Kid and Young Avengers might just be to do with the writers, given that Allen Heinberg is gay. Marvel would probably have shot themselves in the foot had they just gone, “Nope, no gay characters, Heinberg. Children might see them!”

Of course, there is a far more interesting question that Hulkling and Xavin from Runaways present – why does one half of a gay couple in the Marvel universe have to be able to shapeshift, and therefore suggest they are somehow gender neutral?

Oh, and the guy who came across as a homophobe was partially right, there is a huge bias towards having a lot of minority characters involved throughout the entire media these days. Sometimes its good, sometimes it’s bad, but that usually has more to do with the execution of the story than the colour of their skin/place of birth/sexual orientation/etc.

Has anyone stopped to consider how truly WRONG what Sean/Shvaughn did was? He thought Element Lad was straight so he used drugs to TRICK E-Lad into seeing him as female! How would any of you gay guys feel if you found out that your boyfriend was really a disguised female? As a straight man I can assure you that if a woman I was sleeping with stopped taking her pill to reveal herself as a male I would chuck my Christian values concerning FORGIVENESS permanently out the window where he/she/IT is concerned.

I’m pretty sure even a bi/omnisexual person would find the violation of trust impossible to get over.

Just to chip in a few cents, late in the game…

I don’t think anyone is comparing blacks and homosexuals per se, or their experiences. Rather, the comparison is of the struggle for civil rights. For many many years, African Americans were seen as genetically inferior — an aberration from the white presumed norm. Now, many people continue to consider homosexuals as either deluded abuse victims or as genetic aberrations. Both groups have suffered under this bigotry but in notably different ways; both groups have struggled and continue to struggle to be seen as fully human and fully deserving of human rights.

The homoeroticism of comic books should not really be a surprise to anyone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every male who reads them does so as an outlet for sublimated homosexual desire. On the other hand, the fantasy aspect of comic books — the desire to be powerful, to be flamboyant, to be victorious in the end — might appeal to homosexuals on different levels than it does to conservatives and heterosexuals and, as such, homosexuals, whatever their percentage of the population in general society, might be a higher percentage of the comic book audience. Thus, homosexual characters might be of more interest to the comic book audience than they would to the larger society.

Or, we might just accept that our nation is finally if slowly progressing towards treating homosexuals with the dignity and equality they deserve by legal and moral right, and that the oft-denigrated comic book genre has a role to play in that process.

@Bob, It seems you’ve already chucked your Christian Values away. Have fun in hell.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm

It’s a weird scene all over, really. Bob points out the specifically squicky implications of it himself, but the scene as written doesn’t unambiguously support the “soul, not the body”/bisexual reading in the end. EM says, “ANything we shared physically — was in SPITE of the problem, not because of it.”

It’s that word “physical” that makes you wonder; is EM saying bodies don’t matter, or is he saying he slept with Sean/Shvaugn as a woman despite her, uh, womanness and now that problem is gone? Because he certainly isn’t saying the physical doesn’t matter in any explicit way in this scene.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm

The implications I’m referring to are those of consent, not gendered sexuality per se. As Bob notes, this would be just as bad were it a woman taking man-drugs to trick an openly gay male or even a bisexual.

Joseph
June 26, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Well, “theDrizzt” unless you yourself are a Southerner from that era, don’t you dare presume to judge anyone’s likelihood of having contact.

==========

I am and I do. Deal.

@FatherBlack

You’re behind on your agendas… the gays moved on to bigger and better things….. the current agenda in the comic book industry is by necrophilia supporters. That’s why you see all those zombies running around. Marvel is being consumed by them. (Yeah, ok, pun intended.) The push is no longer for gays in comics, it’s for flesh-eating characters… but don’t look at me. I’m not into necrophilia or buying any zombie comics. For that matter, I also never asked for Lady Death (whose boobs, I hear, can be seen from the space station.)

Anyway, I don’t know why gays exist. But all I know is the world would be less fun without them. On the other hand, I don’t know why overbearing, self-righteous fanatics exist. But the world would be more fun without them.

I’m just saying, passing yourself off as the other gender in order to “win over” someone who bats for the the other team is heinous. It is not a loving gesture and not only should Sean have removed as the Legion liason, if not the Science Police, EL has serious grounds for a lawsuit.

Hell, he’s lucky EL didn’t transmute his blood into motor oil!

“We’ll always have Wiccan and Hulkling, though!”

And you’re welcome to keep them.

Well argued, geekmobster.

@ Boatman: As I said before, I know nothing about you other than your own statements. I’m not trying to pin any worldview on you other than what you, yourself, have said in this forum. And I stand by my statements because they are not based on any lazy inference nor ad hominem attack- they are simply responses to what you have said. I believe that’s what’s known as a “dialogue.” As I have never called you either a bigot nor evil (I did call you prejudiced and yes, I think that telling people that they’re fine as long as they don’t “define themselves by what they do in their bedrooms” is “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason,” since there is no difference at all between how gay people define themselves than how straight people do other than the ultimate objects of their attraction) it seems likely to me that there IS in fact one of us who isn’t reading honestly and carefully- and it ain’t me.

At any rate, since it is impossible to have the dialogue you are supposedly looking for with you, I’ll let other people respond to you from now on. So you can tell them how unfair they’re being by actually countering what you say.

@Father Black: Since “normal” men shouldn’t have to read about the gays because they’re “only” 10% of the population, I would love to hear your opinion of Asian-American (5%), and Jewish (2%) comic book characters. Oh- God, no, I wouldn’t.

Your economic theories, by the way, are absolutely priceless. Just for the sake of argument, if the only reason gays are gaining more exposure and attention is because they’re “buying” it, then why are there so many “normal” people out there who are willing to let them, and happy to support them? I guess all those heterosexual supporters of gay rights are also not “normal?”

There was a time when I hoped people who made abhorrent statements like yours would suddenly discover they had a gay brother, son, sister, daughter, mother, father, cousin, etc, in the hopes that they would somehow embrace their inner humanity, but having worked with some of the kids who’ve been thrown out on the streets by their “loving” families, I would never wish that on anyone. I can only hope the main damage you do is here, on the Internet, and not out in the real world.

@MAtthew Grayson: Very well said, by the way. Frankly, I’d rather there be non-straight characters who are well written, nuanced, and “treated as no big deal” than I would, say, Northstar. But then again, I feel that way about straight characters, too, and unfortunately comics writing doesn’t have a track record of subtlety. That said, you’re right on the money.

@Chris Stansfield: As I said, the new Batwoman is indeed, for all practical purposes, a new character. However, the fact she’s name Katherine Kane makes it obvious that DC intended her as a reinvention of the original. They could have just named her something else and so leave room for the Kathy Kane Batwoman to have existed, but this effectively retcons her away. That actually makes me sadder than her being a lesbian would.

@Madison Carter: I’m glad to see you post here; your explanation shows that not only was the OHOTMU not undoing Rawhide Kid’s new “gayness” out of fear, but it proves that it was done out of logic. As I said, it doesn’t bother me that characters are gay, it bothers me when characters are changed in illogical ways for no good reason. (If anything, the implications that RK is gay *because he acted effeminate* is in itself a effront on gay people, not all of whom act that way, you know.) Thank you for your contribution to the topic.

@MAtthew Grayson: I agree with you- I don’t mind characters being gay, having same-sex lovers or even expressing their feelings on a superhero comic… as long as that’s just a part of the story, not the main point. After all, people don’t buy Spider-Man just to see him make out with MJ. do they? No, at the end of the day, Spider-Man is about Spidey kicking villain butt, the rest is secondary. Note: comics CAN be used for meaningful exploration of such topics, and there have been some GREAT comics with gay characters in the past. The same can be said about race, religion or politics. But in a superhero comic, all of these are sort of in the way. In my personal opinion, of course.

Another geekmobster?????

Let it be known that there are TWO of us!!!!! I am the one that that has posted on the Comic Critics pages for installments 174 and 175…. Exchanging enjoyable quips about the Ultimates! I have NO opinion about yen4zen, except mild amusement.

I have been fallowing this thread, amused at logical loopholes and fallacies on all sides of the discussion, but I have not decided to post until now! Now… I MUST! Let it be known that there are two geekmobsters… less there be confusion and the above geekmobster is blamed for my opinions, or vice versa!

@geekmobster,

I’m pretty sure the other “geekmobster” is really joeschmoe, whom Cronin booted off here earlier presumably for being abusive to other posters. He’s posted using a different name each time since. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has picked up on that. Hopefully he didn’t know he was using someone elses handle and will endeavor not to do so again.

I meant installments #73 and 74.. Silly me… Having a doppelganger has clearly rattled me…. Ok, continue with the war…. does everyone have plenty of knives and bullets?

@Father Black: Please share some examples and evidence of gay people’s “intolerance,” as well as evidence of the societal harm their “agenda” is causing.

We truly are in Orwell-land when the people who are seeking to restrict freedom claim that it’s the people being restricted who are “intolerant.”

Come on, how can anyone think two men or women having sex is normal and healthy? I feel sorry for people with this problem. However, history is repeating itself and it is not good. I am concerned for my familys future. I do not like homosexual characters because it reminds me of our future destruction .

Translation: Gay characters raise uncomfortable doubts about my own sexuality, and I’m scared that I might be too gay to have kids someday.

Either CSBG has a lot of silent gaybashers reading the blog, or all these replies are from the same dude.

I have a problem with intolerant people who are pushing a agenda that is harmful to society.

I think you’re describing yourself there, buddy. I don’t know how anyone can think being an intolerant asshole helps society in any way. Whether you’re prejudiced against a race, a religion, a gender, or a sexual orientation– you’re still a bigot.

The goal is to strengthen, not cripple, marriage. Passively condoning illegitimacy, rewarding fatherlessness, advocating same-sex marriage runs counter-intuitive to that goal. ”

What the hell does gay marriage have to do with deadbeat dads in the black community? Oh, right. Nothing.

Gay couples, statistically, stay together longer, and are happier than straight couples. Half of those marriages end in divorce, after all. What, are all the straight couples afraid of the gays being as miserable as they are, or what?

It sickens me– absolutely sickens me– that there are so many homophobes out there. Get some perspective. If two consenting adults love each other, let ‘em get married. They’re not hurting you.

Maybe Brian is more tolerant of this bullshit than I am, but you can all take your balls and go home now, thanks. If this was a Warren Ellis site, you’d all be suffering from arse eels by now.

A lot of it is the same fellow, Bill (and specifically, both of those quotes of yours are of the same guy), who I’ve been deleting as I go along (he changes IPs, but whatever, I’ll just delete ‘em as he does – ain’t no thang). You are not seriously going to call people “fags” and still expect to be able to comment here.

Uhhmmmm I think I read somewhere something about 50 percent divorce rate being false…

I think it was in this sleazy tabloid:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/19/health/19divo.html

Ah, Brian, I see you have deleted the impostor Geekmobster! Must be the same guy! But now we have someone above saying “well argued, Geekmobster” in response to a comment that no longer exists. ah well.
Anyway. The Times quote was mine, so please don’t delete it. I would never call anyone any name that is synonymous with firewood! How silly would that be?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 8:13 pm

But geekmobster, this just means you’re so damn good even an impostor makes a good argument.

To get to things worth talking about with people worth talking to, the Handbook had to square the MAX mini with several decades of Rawhide Kid appearances in which he was so straight he had a regular female love interest, and were essentially forced to declare that his behavior in Zimmerman’s series was a ruse of some sort.

From talking to some of the writers involved, who I know from the Marvel Appendix website, they tried to write the entry without making absolute statements on the character’s sexuality. The problem they had was with the way Zimmerman wrote the Kid, as a campy naif rather than a 1950s-era oater hero. It wasn’t so much that he was implicitly gay — and the MAX mini never did much beyond imply — but that he was generally played as a doofus.

Here’s what I don’t get.

Did someone in the comments mention the Handbook?

I didn’t mention the Handbook, right?

Who mentioned the Handbook that you felt that you had to explain the Handbook?

That really confused me, as it seems like you were referring to an earlier post.

Errrrr? Well that would be odd for any impostor of mine to be good at arguments! I’m so poor at arguments I have to direct people to the New York Times to make my case. And even still, I’m sure someone can find a newspaper just as reputable to counter the article to which I referred. Perhaps something more recent than 2005? If so, then good for them. I will gladly be corrected. I’m more concerned with facts than opinions.

Madison Carter

June 28, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Brian, your article links to a page created by Andy Mangels as part of the research you did for it. I even made note of this at the start of my post.

Right, because he has great direct quotes from Quesada that I used for the piece (as they’re no longer up on Newsarama, which is actually kind of annoying, honestly – I hate when content disappears). It was really quite useful.

Madison Carter

June 28, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Problem is, he used whatever facts and quotes he had and tried to squeeze totally unrelated things into it. He may have *thought* they were related but they weren’t and that’s the point I’m making here, for my own peace of mind.

Also, I want to point out, since you used our Westerns “Files” book to illustrate your point, we did actually find a way to reference the MAX series in it as well. Tongue-in-cheek though it may be, it’s there.

Sure, Madison, that’s why I just mentioned Omar. I get why YOU’D bring it up. I was just wondering about his comment, as it seemed like it was in reply to someone.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I mentioned the Handbook because it was the image you used in the original post as an example of the later Western event where the debunked “sexuality rollback” happened.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm

To clarify, the rollback YOU, Brian, debunked allegedly happened there. It wasn’t a reply, just an additional bit of internal evidence supporting your debunking, and referencing a book you presented as an example in said debunking.

Fair enough, Omar!

@Blade X

Like THE TRUTH mini series, the MAX RAWHIDE KID mini series was nothing more then a “controversial” stunt done to grab mainstream media attention (which it succeeded in doing) and to sell lots of comics (which it DID NOT succeed in doing).

The big difference there is that Rawhide Kid was an (apparently – though I haven’t read it) offensive story playing off gay stereotypes and The Truth was a very good story which made use of historical precedent to add what is quite a logical (and all the more horrifying for it) extension to the Captain America story.

LouReedRichards

June 29, 2009 at 10:23 am

@ Chris Stansfield

I’m not trying to start a pissing match, as I generally agree with a lot that you’ve said, but I have a few questions about some of the statements you’ve made.

“”Note the first two words- “fair” and “objective.” It is no more necessary to be tolerant of someone calling for gays to stay in the closet to be a tolerant person than it is to “tolerate” someone burning a cross on a lawn or showing up to someone’s funeral with a sign that says “God hates fags.””

Doesn’t the 1rst amendment kinda guarantee peoples right to be “intolerant”, saying that gays should stay I the closet isn’t harming anyone overtly, it may not be an opinion that you (or I) agree with, but does that give us the right to “shut them up”? The cross burning thing is different because there would generally be laws broken in the process of that action (trespassing, fire codes, etc..) Showing up at the funeral with “God Hates Fags” may be a deplorable, despicable thing to do, but aren’t the rights of individuals to be able to freely express their constitutional rights matter as much as the rights for homosexuals to find equality under the law?

“Karl Popper: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.””

That’s just a really scary statement to me. I think I get the sentiment behind the statement, but that sounds extremely intolerant to criminalize a persons right to express opinions that others find intolerant?
Who defines the norms by which we deem what is normal (tolerant) and abnormal (intolerant)? It seems that Poppers statement could be used just a easily by the “gays are unnatural” group as it is by the “tolerant majority”, strikes me as a bit of a herd mentality statement. Whatever group is currently in power will use that power to paint the other group as intolerant – either intolerant to the rights of gays or intolerant to whatever religious or social ideal that the party in power holds.

As I said, I’m curious about those points. I in no way align my self with “JoeSchmoe2″ or “Fred2″, but I am troubled by those statements. – Am I missing something?

Wow! – this thread has been one of the most interesting ones I’ve read in quite a long time.

Thanks Brian!

How about next week we have a theme of “all non-controversial legends”? (Next month? Quarter?)

This kind of stuff is too tiring.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I think there’s a distinction between intolerance and criminalization, or intolerant expression and actual violence or legal restriction based on intolerance.

I would never stop a person from using a racist slur or uttering a bigoted opinion; I would also not avoid challenging said opinion. Bigots often seem to think being shunned, being subjected to non-legal modes of intolerance for their opinions, is tantamount somehow to the very real institutionalized mistreatments and harm done in the name of racism, sexism, and so forth. To say a woman is inherently inferior to a man is one thing; to say that such a sexist statement is idiotic and offensive, and that the speaker should be ignored or deserves ridicule is another; and to jail someone making sexist statements or to refuse to hire women or deny women the vote is still another.

I am not fond of hate speech legislation or hate speech rules, except in cases where violence is being advocated — and in those cases, I tend to think hate-based calls for violence are more criminally and civilly liable because they open up entire groups of people to being targeted. A direct threat against a single person is quantitatively less awful; a death threat to a single person because they’re black or gay or whatever is a threat that effectively applies to many or all others who share the named trait. More, the motivation is utterly irrational; I can understand extortion even as I condemn it, because the extortionist wants money. A racist wants extermination or institutionalized bigotry, in short they do not want a material or personal satisfaction so much as they want to transform a society into a machine of targeted and fundamentally arbitrarily-justified repression and potentially genocide.

And that’s where the difficulty of tolerating intolerance arrives: what reasonable means or set of actions virulent intolerance could conceivably be calling for? Can one promulgate intolerance without, in essence, demanding violence either directly or by means of political institutions against persons merely because of how they were born, or because of beliefs they hold that are not in themselves intolerant or harmful?

@LouReedRichards
Sure, I’m happy to clarify. First, I think you’re mixing up a few things here, and if that’s because I spoke poorly than I apologize.

“Doesn’t the 1st amendment kinda guarantee peoples right to be “intolerant”, saying that gays should stay I the closet isn’t harming anyone overtly, it may not be an opinion that you (or I) agree with, but does that give us the right to “shut them up”?”

There are a few separate things to address there. First of all, to clarify the law- the Constitution gives us the right to say despicable things, but the First Amendment specifically refers to the conduct of the government, which is not allowed to deny the rights of freedom of speech and a free press. However, it doesn’t force Brian, for example, to publish anyone’s views on his website, nor is it censorship if, say, Random House decides it doesn’t want to publish “Mein Kampf: The Return.” That said, looking through my own comments, I don’t see where I’ve asked for anyone to be censored or banished. I prefer an open discussion like the one we’re having, frankly, and looking through my own posts I can’t find any instance where I told anyone to shut up or go away. in fact, the last thing I said to someone I disagreed with was, “give me an example.” I’d rather people’s noxious views be out in the open where they can be confronted.

But the point I was making was not that a person has no right to be “intolerant”- on the contrary, I was specifically defending MY right not to “tolerate” the ignorant things that people say. Whether you think it’s a First Amendment issue or not, we were clearly in agreement from the beginning. I have just as much right not to tolerate public bigotry as the bigots have not to tolerate private emotions.

“The cross burning thing is different because there would generally be laws broken in the process of that action (trespassing, fire codes, etc..) Showing up at the funeral with “God Hates Fags” may be a deplorable, despicable thing to do, but aren’t the rights of individuals to be able to freely express their constitutional rights matter as much as the rights for homosexuals to find equality under the law?”

You and I have to agree to disagree on this one. Just as there are exceptions made to the First Amendment for libel, slander, copyright infringement, and, most pertinently, incitement to riot, I have NO problem with restricting people’s right to go to a private event that they were not invited to and disrupting others’ ability to mourn. Laws that force activists to stay a certain distance away from private property that they are protesting set that precedent a long time ago. If the good Reverend Phelps wants to abuse his freedom of speech, he can do it far enough away from the cemetery that families of murdered gay people don’t have to walk past him. Just using your own example, I would call “crashing” a funeral a form of obvious trespass.

“That’s just a really scary statement to me. I think I get the sentiment behind the statement, but that sounds extremely intolerant to criminalize a persons right to express opinions that others find intolerant?
Who defines the norms by which we deem what is normal (tolerant) and abnormal (intolerant)? It seems that Poppers statement could be used just a easily by the “gays are unnatural” group as it is by the “tolerant majority”, strikes me as a bit of a herd mentality statement. Whatever group is currently in power will use that power to paint the other group as intolerant – either intolerant to the rights of gays or intolerant to whatever religious or social ideal that the party in power holds.

First- normal/abnormal and tolerant/intolerant are not synonymous nor even generally related (I would say it’s more “normal” in many societies to be INTOLERANT than it is to be tolerant, for example). Tolerance is a relatively definable thing. People who leave each other alone are tolerant. People who seek to limit the rights of others aren’t. It’s as laughable to call someone fighting for the right to bedside visitation of a dying lover “intolerant” as it is to call bus boycotters “racicst” for wanting to sit in the front. When some idiots in the gay rights movement allegedly vandalized a Mormon Temple- that was intolerant. It wasn’t intolerant when they marched for their rights. That’s just by way of clarification of the language, by the way- I don’t disagree that leaving it up to people to make those distinctions in a legal sense can lead down a slippery slope- but I take issue with the comparison you’re using. It should also be noted we already have “hate crimes legislation” that specifically takes the issue of tolerance into account. (Incidentally, I’m not in favor of hate crimes laws because I think it’s impossibile to police thoughts and because I’m not in favor of special, “protected classes”- but that puts me in the minority of Americans, and the point is that the precedent is there.)

With regards to Popper, you may note that I used ellipses once or twice, because he goes into a lot of contextualizing detail that would have ended up making my own post too long to read or take seriously at all. Popper, first of all, was a philosopher- not a lawmaker or a politician- and much of what he says is rhetorical. He is basically telling liberals and Constitutionalists, like myself, to not be wishy-washy when it comes to moral relativity- that tolerance is a high ideal, but we shouldn’t sit idly by while others seek to destroy a tolerant society. Importantly, (and it may have been a mistake to omit this), he stresses that, as long as dialogue is possible, it is important to engage those we disagree with in that way. However, when dialogue is IMPOSSIBLE- when it has become clear that movements are being incited beyond their ability or interest to actually care about facts, when Orwellian linguistic tricks, false information, and circular reasoning are the only reason those movements accept- then we seriously need to start looking at what is being incited, and what the inciters are doing to make their own goals come true. Should Middle Class Afghans have been “tolerant” of the Taliban, which, when left alone, soon took over their country and removed rights that were already in place? Should Jews in Germany have “tolerated” the incitements to violence that were coming from the Reichstag in the period of Hitler’s rise?

The First Amendment protects my right to say “I hate fags.” It doesn’t protect my right to say “You should all go out and kill fags.” Again, there is plenty of precedent that makes incitement to violence, riot, murder, etc, illegal, and I don’t think it’s any more unfair an infringement on the constitution than stopping someone from yelling “Fire” in a movie theater is.

“As I said, I’m curious about those points. I in no way align my self with “JoeSchmoe2″ or “Fred2″, but I am troubled by those statements. – Am I missing something?”

Thanks for allowing me to clarify. I don’t know if you’re missing anything, or if I’ve swayed any opinions, but I do appreciate your ability to argue and ask questions in a rational manner.
-CS
P.S. Of course, while I was writing out my response, Omar did a pretty good job himself of making my points. :)

LouReedRichards

June 29, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Thanks Chris, I appreciate the clarification.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you had told anyone to “shut up”. I agree, that it’s better to have a bigot speak their mind, then you can know for sure the kind of person you’re dealing with and either engage them or just let them be. I find the older I get, the less inclined I am to try and change their minds on these issues. It’s just not worth the time and effort, and I’ve never had any real success taking that approach anyway.

I also agree about the issue of censorship. An individual or a private company certainly has the right to refuse to publish any material they deem unworthy. When the government actively blocks or tries to subvert an individuals right to freedom of expression (as long as that expression is within the legal parameters) then it’s censorship. BTW: I’m no legal scholar, so forgive me if I have mangled the terminology and definitions.

You raise good points about the funeral bit. I’ll have to ponder that issue more. I’m torn between the issue of
protecting Rev. Phelps’ rights (as I see it) and the issue of “crashing ” a private event. Ok as I write this, I guess I’ll concede the point about the funeral bit. As long as Phelps stays within the mandated distance, then let him exercise his right to free speech, which admittedly pretty much makes me want to vomit/punch somebody in the face (I know, I know, not very tolerant : ) … I get the irony).

I may not have used the best language for the tolerant/normal, intolerant/abnormal. That’s what I get for trying to jot of a quick comment when I should be doing my actual work. I was just trying to get across the idea that people in the majority/ in power usually see themselves as being the tolerant ones and view the people out of power as abnormal and threatening/intolerant to the status quo. The slippery slope argument was the point I was trying to make. I see we pretty much agree on that point. Sorry, I realize my language was confusing.

I feel the same way as you and Omar about “hate crimes”, it smacks too much of thought policing.
The slippery slope all over again.

Poppers statements make much more sense to me know that I know that he was willing to engage in dialogue until a point that it becomes impossible and force must be taken to ensure self preservation.
That point wasn’t clear to me to start with, thanks for the clarification.

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough…

Thanks for taking the time to respond and clarify your points, and yes Omar has been hitting them out of the park with his comments quite a bit.

Like I said, it’s been a very interesting and thought provoking thread.
I know I’ve learned a thing or two, esp. don’t go skinny dipping with Omar, it just leads to trouble, and avoid trespassing on Bill Reed’s property, that guy’s got a wicked aim.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 29, 2009 at 11:27 pm

I know I’ve learned a thing or two, esp. don’t go skinny dipping with Omar, it just leads to trouble.

If you know anyone who hasn’t learned that yet, please send me their phone number.

[...] you might recall, last week we discussed the Rawhide Kid mini-series that Marvel put out under its MAX imprint (their “mature readers only” line of comics). That’s the series that took a [...]

SO, a bunch of straight caucasians think it’s okay to tell blacks and gay what they are fighting for, huh? Gee, massa, I shore am glad you be here to tell us dees tings!

“The controversy is when some individuals define themselves by what they do in the bedroom.”

Some? Try “all”. Heterosexuality is just as defined by what happens in the bedroom as homosexuality is. This is pretty much the entire problem- straight is normative (which is not the same as “normal”, btw) and doesn’t have to justify itself, argue it’s right to exist, debate it’s origins, or put up with people treating it like it’s a freak show.

(as an aside, I’m not ignoring bisexuality, I’m just keeping the comment simple)

The following is not necessarily in response to Boatman, but to the general “I don’t want gays in my comics” mentality, and an extension of my response.

Where comics are concerned, the trouble is compounded in that we do expect to see the private lives of our heroes. It’s part-and-parcel of a secret identity. Reading about Peter Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane, Clark Kent’s with Lois Lane, Reed Richards and Sue Storm… the list goes on, and while we may not get comics that graphically show what goes on in the bedroom (although Luke Cage/Jessica Jones comes to mind), we certainly get close enough to it that it’s all but transparent. To say that it’s okay for the sex lives of healthy straight couples to be a part of the storytelling (not to mention all the random hook-ups that go on), but that GLBT (etc) characters can’t get that same treatment, or even acknowledge that they ARE part of the gay and lesbian alphabet soup, is quite simply a double standard.

Sure, I can understand that it might make some straight readers uncomfortable, but I’d argue it’s more uncomfortable for gay readers to see straight relationships flaunted while they have little to no representation (and more, have to hear straight people saying that whatever representation is present shouldn’t be there). Frankly, if gay readers can adjust their thinking and accept relationships they can’t identify with, so can straight readers.

There’s a side to the argument that says that comics are for escapism, and shouldn’t deal with real-world issues. That’s a great thought, but it doesn’t really hold up. If there were no element of the “real world” in our comics, secret identities simply wouldn’t exist. The fact is that readers love seeing Spider-Man clobber Rhino, then go home to his wife and worry about how to pay the bills. They love seeing Superman save the world, then turn in his article to Perry White and go to bed next to Lois. But let Northstar beat on a villain, then go on a date with another man, and suddenly it’s the intrusion of the “real world” or the forcing of an “agenda” on the readers. The real world is in our comics whether we acknowledge it or not, and it forms the backbone of the superhero comics we know and love. The outright exclusion of a portion of the population from the media isn’t consistent with that, and in fact is a fantasy of a much different sort than the comics themselves.

You´re right DesertSon! The straight caucasians should stay away from any civil rights issues whatsoever! Intolerance is not their problem, anyway… They are tolerated!

Gays and blacks should fight alone! Yeah! And apart from each other! Double yeah! And women… they should get their own club too!

This is not a struggle of every men and women! This is a struggle of some men, and if you´re not one of them… well, actually, luck you, it must be nice to have all those rights and stuff… But I digress! Let´s stand apart for what is right!

(Not) Together!

Happy Independance Day, everyone! Let’s celebrate our right to publicly declare all of these differing opinions!

Under the heading of rumors just remind us of other rumors, I once read or heard that “Paul Levitz hooked up Shvaughn Erin with Element Lad specifically to counter the ‘Jan Arrah is gay’ rumors.” That is, Levitz was aware of the fan rumors and he tried to stop them.

If true, that adds an extra layer to the Shvaughn/Sean switch, making it ironically appropriate to switch the gender. “Anything you can undo, I can undo better”, as the song doesn’t quite go.

Doug Atkinson

July 7, 2009 at 5:17 am

Whatever his reason for it, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Levitz brought Shvaughn Erin in with the intention of hooking her up with Jan. She’d appeared previously, but when she came back as the Science Police liaison to the Legion, practically every scene she was in was with Jan. This made sense for other reasons–Jan was LSH chairman at the time–but in retrospect, it feels very much like they were being thrown together so they could develop a relationship at maximum speed.

What’s with the gay stuff ?

What’s with all the gay stuff? Because June is gay pride month. In June, you should expect to see greater than average gay content, and also more father, wedding, and end-of-school topics, similar to seeing Jesus stuff in December and March/April, or black stuff in February.

Or were you complaining about it being *gay* stuff, and thus “icky”?

Just a general metacommentary on moderation of discussion threads: it’s really disjointed to try to read this thread when the offensive comments are removed but the less offensive responses to the now non-existent comment remains. As a gay asian man, reading bigoted stuff is not nearly as damaging to my well-being as existing laws and physical acts of violence have been to me and my various communities. I’ve had to develop into sterner stuff and can handle the offensive comments… actually I prefer to see the extent of intolerance and lines of reasoning that an opposing perspective might have just so that I know what I am dealing with and how to either stand up for myself and, in extreme cases, exactly how I have to shore up my defenses. However, I do understand that retaining these incendiary remarks would probably only further damage a forum of civil discourse but, like the DC survey from the 70s illustrates, it can be helpful, instructive, and elevating to see evidence of ingrained prejudice and get a sense of how far we’ve come and how far we need to go.

Michael Heide

July 23, 2009 at 5:12 am

T.:
How is that look gayer than his original pink and white outfit and hairdo, pictured above?

*****

LouReedRichards:
Oddly though, it’s one of Cockrum’s least “kinky” outfits.

*****

Okay, I admit it’s quite possible that among all this insanely intolerant gay-bashing (really, guys? In the year 2009? You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me), I missed a reply adressing the inappropriateness of the costume.

But he’s got a huge green phallic symbol extending from his crotch to his chest!!! I mean, look at the bottom left panel:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/arrow.jpg

What’s with people picking on analogies because they’re not perfect mirrors of what they’re someone is making the comparison with… a level of abstraction is to be expected.

The comparison goes that it was acceptable to discriminate against blacks back then, but now almost everyone sees it as wrong, and it’s likely the same thing will happen with homosexuals.

[...] DC Comics had a customer survey in 1970 that inquired how interested its readers were in reading abo…. [...]

I’m no expert on Element Lad or the Legion (though I do enjoy them and read a lot of their books), but from that panel, it’s pretty clear to me that the INTENTION is; “Element Lad is gay”.

I’m not saying that this is a good or bad thing for the character, just what’s plainly written there on the page.
“Whatever we shared physically… Was in SPITE of the Profem, not BECAUSE of it!”
He’s saying, “I would rather you’d have been a man all along.”

Again, I’m not on a ‘side’ here, just clearing up the text’s intention. A lot of people didn’t seem to read that part.

I’m sick as fuck of people demanding political diversity and calling DC and Marvel racist/homophobic for not having many gay, black, Asian, etc. characters. DC/Marvel aren’t being racist/homophobic and there isn’t a conspiracy to keep people belonging to those groups away from comics; it’s just that most writers are straight whites, and writers tend to give their main characters their own ethnicity and sexual orientation so that they can identify with them (not because they have something against people who have a different sexual orientation or ethnicity than them). If those writers feel like writing about characters belonging to other groups, then that’s great, but it isn’t the OBLIGATION to do so.
Plus, what did you expect? These comics are made in America, where most people are white and (like in all countries in the world) straight. Bitching about American comics having too many white and straight characters is like bitching about Japanese media having too many Japanese characters in them.
Instead of demanding that DC and Marvel should force their writers to write about characters they can’t identify with or that they don’t want to write about, people should ask for more black and gay writers to become part of the industry.

Okay, I admit it’s quite possible that among all this insanely intolerant gay-bashing (really, guys? In the year 2009? You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me), I missed a reply adressing the inappropriateness of the costume.

But he’s got a huge green phallic symbol extending from his crotch to his chest!!! I mean, look at the bottom left panel

I see what you’re saying, but even though the arrow on the chest of that costume is incredibly phallic, it doesn’t necessarily scream gay to me. It could still be phallic but theoretically geared toward heterosexual women. That original pink costume and hairdo though just screams gay to me…

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives