And heeeeeeeeeeere’s Bunker, DC’s newest gay character and addition to the Teen Titans, color-coded dressed in purple.
It’s like there’s gay cartoon characters and then there’s gay cartoons. Do you get my meaning?
I feel like using these too-easily-readable stereotypes as our clue for who’s gay to readers doesn’t help. These stereotypes are weird! I imagine how frightening it may be to a young man trying to understand his sexuality… starting to understand that he’s gay and then fearing he has to turn into some weird cartoon in order to express that. I’m guessing that’s not a good feeling.
I don’t expect comic books to be moral exemplars. I don’t expect all characters to be behavior models. I do hope that there’s a more realistic character in there somewhere that doesn’t need the metaphorical hammer to show what he is.
What is INSANE to me, is the reasoning behind his creation. Artist Brett Booth, who designed the character, had this to say (full article here):
Why the more flamboyant look? Well it’s complicated. I’ve seen all the other gay superheroes out there, Ok maybe not all. They look just like regular heterosexuals, they act like regular heterosexuals, they just happen to have sex with people of their own gender, under the covers and in the dark.
We wanted to show an interesting character who’s homosexuality is part of him, not something that’s hidden. Sure they are gay people who you wouldn’t know are gay right off the bat, but there are others who are a more flamboyant, and we thought it would be nice to actually see them portrayed in comics.
It’s great that there are more gay characters in comics, it is, but this is unnecessary and reacting to a “problem” that does not exist. The fact that homosexuals “look and act just like regular heterosexuals” is presented in the first paragraph as something shocking. This is what we’ve been trying to convince everyone of forever. Gay people are the same as straight people. This isn’t something that is shocking, or news to the world, or a revelation, and definitely not something that needs to be countered. We look like regular people because we are regular people.
The statement that the gay characters in comics aren’t gay enough is also insane. The most prominent gay characters in mainstream comics are:
- Northstar, a French Canadian fairy-like Olympic skiier
- Wiccan, who is a boy witch
- Hulkling, who has a ton of earrings and was drawn as androgynous in his “hulk” state
- Batwoman, a tough-as-nails crime fighter who was kicked out of the Army over DADT
All of these characters are actually presented as well-rounded. Yes, they’ve all had their gayness pushed to the forefront of their character at one time or another, but they still have traits outside of their gayness. I mean, I have issues with Northstar being a mutant fairy and also the first gay superhero, but he has other things going on for him. But none of these characters were apparently gay enough because they didn’t have a faux hawk and wear pink.
And here’s the other thing, Brett Booth and Scott Lobdell…we don’t need to have someone who is unquestionably homosexual in appearance. Saying that he “isn’t hiding” by looking like this implies that I am hiding by wearing a hoodie and Converse today. You know what would actually do some good? Have a character like this be straight. There is so much danger in giving into stereotypes like this. This is a big jump, but this in someways validates jerks for picking on kids who dress a little more flamboyantly for being gay even if they aren’t. Even more damaging, having a character like this is going to have a horrible effect on questioning teens who think “I can’t be gay, I don’t look anything LIKE Bunker, and HE is gay.” That is true. Not identifying with the gay stereotypes presented in popular culture kept me clueless about my own homosexuality until I was 21 years old.
Dear God, I just realized that that’s a pink Hawaiian shirt. That is truly evil.
What would the reaction be if Miles Morales, the new half black/half Latino Spider-Man, was presented as LOVING basketball and tacos, and wearing nothing but bandanas, and probably in a gang? It would be bananas. This is the equivalent for gay people.
I find it hard to complain about another gay superhero. It’s great. I really is. We have 60 years of non-representation to make up for, and I’m glad that DC is pushing itself into the 21st century. But. This kid? Is offensive. I know he was created with good intentions, but I really hope that someone along the way (gay editors at DC? Are there any?) clued Booth and Lobdell in on what they were creating. Or I hope that when he first appears, he’s a great well-rounded character.
Comics, you guys.