Top 10 LGBT Superheroes
The month of June is Pride Month, a celebration of the diversity our society has in a variety of sexual orientations. For far too long Homosexuals, Bi-sexuals, and transgendered individuals have had to struggle for the right to be treated with equality. In media it is not uncommon for them to see themselves portrayed as evil or as the butts of jokes. But in comic books there are numerous superheroes who have graced the four color pages who are proud members of the LGBT community who are no less equal than any other hero in capes or cowls. In honor of Pride Month here ( and in no particular order) are the top 10 LGBT superheroes.
Wonder Woman: Let us get the biggest entry out of the way first. Created by famed psychologist, William Moulton Marston, who himself was very open to various forms of sexuality, Wonder Woman was inspired by his two romantic partners; Olivia Byrne and Elizabeth Holloway. After Marston’s passing, Holloway and Byrne remained together and continued to oversee the adventures of Wonder Woman and ensuring she continued to stand for equality and justice for everyone. The progressive nature of her character in addition to her life spent on an island full of women led many to wonder about the sexuality of the Amazonian Princess. When Greg Rucka took over writing duties on Wonder Woman in the 2000’s he confirmed her sexuality as a matter of fact. In recent years DC has embraced this aspect of the character, when the publisher collaborated with IDW on the bestselling Love is Love, to aid the victims of the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub, they proudly placed Wonder Woman on the cover waving the rainbow flag.
Northstar: This fast running mutant made history by coming out as the first gay supherhero in comics. Northstar debuted in 1979’s Uncanny X-Men #120, at this time the Comics Code Authority still imposed their censorship on the industry, and openly gay characters were forbidden. Both Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and creator John Byrne got around this by simply letting the character’s action speak louder than his words. Finally in 1992, Northstar came out of the closet to his Alpha Flight teammates. He made further history in 2012 by marrying his partner in the first same-sex marriage in the pages of comic books. Making such bold and revolutionary steps throughout his history, it is little wonder that Northstar has become an icon for many LGBT fans.
Batwoman: In 2006, DC announced that the long dormant character Batwoman, AKA Kate Kane would be returning to comics. Only this time she would no longer be a bland character there to simply keep anti-homosexual censors off Batman’s back. Instead now she would be an open lesbian herself. In an era of “don’t ask, don’t tell” her sexuality was the reason, Kane was discharged from the army and took up the mantle of Batwoman to protect Gotham during Batman’s absence in the series 52. It was here she began a relationship with Gotham PD detective Renee Montoya who would go on to take on the mantle of the Question for a while. Creators Greg Rucka and JH Williams III, placed Batwoman as the protagonist in the long-running series Detective Comics and later Williams oversaw the heroine moving into her own series Batwoman. Tragically, JH Williams was forced to leave behind the character he had spent so much time with, due to DC’s refusal to have Kane marry longtime partner Maggie Sawyer, due to a policy of no married characters at the time. Currently Batwoman is serving beside her cousin Batman, as his second in command in the pages of Detective Comics.
Miss America: The most recently created superhero on this list, America Chavez AKA Miss America first debuted in 2011 and frequently popped up as a character in various team books. A refugee from a utopian dimension, Miss America ended up falling in with the heroes of earth joining teams like the Young Avengers and A-Force. In 2017, she was given her own book entitled America. Writer Gabby Rivera, was able to draw on much of her own experiences has a lesbian of Hispanic descent, to navigate this new hero throughout the run of the book with art largely by Joe Quinones. She also continues to be a team player as a member of the intergalactic team, the Ultimates.
Midnighter and Apollo: Putting two heroes in a single entry may be cheating, but these two Authority veterans go so well together. Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, to be the Batman and Superman of Wildstorm’s book the Authority, Apollo and Midnighter set themselves apart from their inspiration by being among the first openly gay couples in comics. These two went on to become arguably the most popular characters at Wildstorm, and were eventually folded into the main DC Universe during the New 52. Originally younger versions of the heroes appeared in a rebooted Stormwatch, but they really took off when writer Steve Orlando oversaw their run. Initially with there was the series Midnighter, where the couple had broken up a little while before, and later came Midnighter and Apollo which reunited the two. These adventures featuring Apollo and Midnighter, were praised by fans and critics and even earned a nomination for a GLAAD Award in 2017 for Outstanding Comic Book.
Hulkling and Wiccan: Another entry where I had to put two heroes together, because frankly that is how they belong. When Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung created Young Avengers, they needed a way to truly make these characters stand on their own and not simply teen versions of the Avengers. Among the characters they created, two have become major fan favorites, Wiccan and Hulkling. Wiccan has the potential to be the most powerful magic users in the Marvel Universe and Hulkling is a half Kree-half Skrull shapeshifter. They forged a relationship fairly quickly within the formation of the Young Avengers. These two characters were cornerstones for the Young Avengers team throughout Civil War, Secret Invasion and beyond. They had their highs and lows, especially when Wiccan fell into a deep depression following the dissolution of the original team.
Coagula: Filling the shoes of Grant Morrison on a trippy and quirky book can not be easy, which mean when Rachel Pollack took over Doom Patrol with issue #64, she definitely had her work cut out to make an impression. One of her greatest contribution to DC’s collection of misfit heroes was the creation of new member, Coagula, along with Scot Eaton. Coagula’s alter ego was Kate Goodwin but before that she was Clark Goodwin, making her the first transsexual in mainstream comics. With Pollack being a transwoman herself, she sought to create a trans character who would make a positive impact on pop culture. After having radioactive sex (yes comics are weird), Goodwin gained the ability to coagulate liquids and vice-versa dissolve solids. While the Justice League turned her down, but the Doom Patrol welcomed her as a fellow misfit. Readers got to see her character grow and evolve during her tenure with the team before she was unfortunately killed in a freak psychic accident, but her legacy in comics remains.
Iceman: In a move many saw as controversial, 2015 saw Iceman outed by his teammate, Jean Grey. But writer Brian Michael Bendis pointed out that this was not out of the blue, but rather a fan theory which had been building for many years. Plus there is something that simply feels right about one of the X-Men’s founding members being a homosexual on a team of heroes many in the gay community saw themselves in. Last year writer Sina Grace and different artists explored this side of the mutant in their critically acclaimed Iceman solo series. This run saw the modern day Bobby Drake, as well as his younger self from an alternate timeline (comics right?) finally come out to his parents and deal with the changes in that relationship while still being a superhero. It was a truly compelling series that is highly recommended.
Harley Quinn: The fan favorite antihero has no problem being the main squeeze to her Mistah J. or Misses Poison Ivy. Harley Quinn was first introduced by Paul Dini and the people behind the acclaimed Batman: the Animated Series. Playing the role of the Joker’s looney girlfriend, she became an immediate hit with fans and naturally found her way into the comics. Over the years, fans got to watch her gradually get fed up with the way the Joker treated her and finally fight back and escape this abusive relationship. When Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner took on the adventures of Harley they made the decision to build on the flirtatious nature she had with other women in the DC Universe and put her into a relationship with Poison Ivy. Fans everywhere were than happy that a character they loved so much had finally found a healthy relationship and has moved onto the next step of her character evolution. This relationship has become so powerful that in a recent arc in Batman, her love for Ivy was the key to saving the world from the botanical villain.
John Constantine: He is a chain smoking, sharp tongued, take-no-crap, demon fighting wiseass and also one of the downright coolest characters in comic history. When writer Brian Azzarello became the first non-British writer to take over John Constantine’s award winning series Hellblazer, he sought to show readers a side to the antihero they had never seen before. Constantine, began to rely less on magic and more on his wit and sleight-of-hand. But most importantly he came out as bisexual. The brilliance of this move was the casual way it was treated, this revelation was treated in a way that was matter-of-factly. In 2015, acclaimed bisexual writer James Tynion IV, was put on the book Constantine and further cemented this aspect of the cult favorite character.