Chat Cave: A Gay DC Character

Following Co-publisher Dan Didio’s announcement that a formerly straight DC character was going to be reintroduced as gay, the comics world has been abuzz with guesses as to just who this character might be. While Didio’s comments have ruled out many characters that have already been introduced, that hasn’t stopped folks from expressing who they’d like that character to be. Today, the Retcon Punchers weigh in with their favorite — not necessarily most likely — guesses. Welcome to the Chat Cave.

Drew: I’ve found many occasions to bring this up on this site, but I really think Jason Todd would make a lot of sense as a gay character. In fact, I think his story becomes more compelling if he is gay. Think about it: he’s this incredible exaggeration of the classic younger sibling of an overachiever; he’s always made to feel guilty about every little thing he does differently from the way Dick did things. It’s not a huge leap to think that he may have felt that pressure in his personal life, staying closeted for fear of the way his father (figure) might react. Gay readers may find a great deal to relate to in Jason’s conflict with Bruce, who fundamentally can’t accept him for hard-lined moral reasons (not that I’m comparing homosexuality to murder).

The fact that both Judd Winick, who crafted Jason’s return to life as the Red Hood, and Scott Lobdell, who is currently writing Jason in Red Hood and the Outlaws, have histories of addressing LGBT issues in their comics is enough to make me think that this isn’t such a ridiculous idea. Combine that with how aloof Lobdell has been regarding Jason’s sexuality in Red Hood, and I could almost think Jason is the character Didio is talking about.

I say almost because it’s certainly NOT Jason. Didio has made it clear that this is a character that has yet to be introduced in the New 52, and that this character will become one of DC’s highest profile gay characters, which I think effectively rules out a well-worn second-stringer like Jason. Ultimately, I’ll be happy as long as the reveal has the kind of emotional resonance I see for Jason, which I think is the most natural way to make a big deal out of it.

Peter: Honestly, I’m kinda sick of this LGBT race. I understand that it is important to allow for equality and fair representation in popular media, but the constant changing of comics, be it adding different types of characters, or changing mainstay characters, is very bothersome to me. Whoever they choose is fine, it doesn’t really bother me. What DOES both me is that they will be changing years of history. I can understand that they it makes more sense since this is the New 52, and DC can pretty much do whatever they want. It’s their prerogative to make their product relevant to popular times. I think it would make more sense to introduce a completely new character that is gay and than messing with established characters. By doing so DC may excite and entice new/newer readers, but this could easily alienate readers who have been around for a long time. Also, the fact that this is coming on the coattails of Marvel’s big LGBT event of the year, seems a little reactionary.

But if I were to pick a character,  I think it would be pretty interesting to see someone like The Joker. We haven’t seen him yet, and it would totally fit with his insanely crazy personality. It would be pretty interesting of a character development for him, plus with Harley gone, he will need a new sidekick, and it could totally be something like a homoerotic court jester.

Shelby: I think the thing I am most tired of with this DC Outing is the negativity it has spawned. I don’t know why I am constantly surprised by hatred and bigotry, but I always find myself totally unprepared for it. To be honest, I’m not sure what sort of impact this will have; I don’t know if I believe that the character will be written in a way that his homosexuality will have a legitimate impact. Pointing to a fictional person and saying, “You’re gay now,” doesn’t necessarily change anything about that character’s core culture and personality. I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune, were I homosexual and finally beginning to see people like me well-represented in a medium I enjoy. While the move does feel reactionary, not only to Marvel but also to Obama’s evolution of personal policy, I say so what? If the end result is another stride in the right direction towards equality of representation in comic books, does it really matter why DC is doing it?

Personally, I’m pulling for Alan Scott on Earth-2. Writing-wise, it would be the easiest to go with someone from a second wave title, because they don’t really have established arcs yet. Also, outing someone in a parallel universe has the least-reaching consequences to continuity.

Patrick: Oh I say bring it on. Gay-arms race if we have to. I wanna see Gay Hal Jordan, I wanna see transgender Lobo, I wanna see a bisexual Oliver Queen. And I don’t just want them to be LGBT and have it not factor into their lives – straight heroes are always driven by their love interests, their political beliefs or their families. Why shouldn’t the gay characters’ value systems figure into their heroing?

But, we’ve mostly strayed from the assignment here. The question wants my best guess. I appreciate that – even when we claim not to care – we have more to say about the phenomenon than the actual gay character, but do some reckless speculation:

I love Drew’s read on Jason Todd, (I just read the character as gay now) but he’s not quite the “iconic character” DiDio had promised. Crowd favorite seems to be Alan Scott. That’s fine: both he and Jay Garrick seem to be re-invented whole-cloth for the Second Wave. I’m less sold on the Joker suggestion – frankly, if we’re going to go with a Gotham villain, I’d nominate the Riddler. Go ahead: imagine Sassy Gay Riddler and tell me I’m wrong. (Also, Riddler is the only character we’ve mentioned thus far that hasn’t appeared in the New 52 yet.)

The clues point to another character, but this one might be controversial (and/or perfect) or story reasons: Ralph Dibny – the Elongated Man. Previously, Ralph was defined by his relationship with his wife Sue. The story of her murder is probably the saddest thing I’ve read in the medium and it hinges entirely on the strength of their relationship. It would be a bold damn move, but rebuilding Ralph would involve rebuilding his partner as well. That relationship could easily be gay.

29 comments on “Chat Cave: A Gay DC Character

  1. I like the idea of Ralph, but The Dibney’s relationship is pretty important and clutch. As you mentioned Patrick, Sue’s rape and subsequent death is a huge story that leads to a lot of other things. I think it would make sense to keep them together, but obviously DC can’t redo the whole Dr. Light fiasco. That would just be too much for some people, and it wouldn’t fit into the New 52. I think it would be interesting to see Ralph gay, but at the same time wouldn’t his important be minimized since he would no longer have Sue?

    • Yeah, and that’s exactly what I’m saying. If this new version of Ralph is as defined by his homosexual relationship as old-Ralph is defined by his heterosexual relationship with Sue. It feels like a total valid way to actually engage the character’s sexual identity in a meaningful, storytelling kind of way. Obviously, the continuity gets screwy, but we’re through the looking glass on that issue anyway.

      Also, Peter, wasn’t the Dr. Light thing too much for readers at the time? I remember reading a lot of criticism that the rape was just way too dark for these characters and this universe.

      • I was a little too much. There is a lot of criticism, but here the thing; it fits really well into the over arching Identity Crisis storyline. It really works in this, and from many angles, drives the next 5 issues. It also is the catalyst that gets us into the Tower of Babel storyline, and by extension Infinite Crisis. It’s a pivotal event that shapes the next several years of comics. That doesn’t necessarily make it okay. YOU ALL HEAR THAT? RAPE IS NOT OKAY.

  2. We should also mention that Shazam has been another popular guess. A lot of people are pointing to Billy’s “I don’t like bullies” statement as evidence that he may have been the victim of anti-gay bullying. I could kind of see it, but aren’t Billy and Shazam different people? I don’t know really anything about Captain Marvel, but I thought when Billy says “Shazam” he and the Captain switch places. If that’s right, wouldn’t Billy’s sexual orientation have no bearing on Shazam’s?

    • Shazam has been a popular guess. I do see the anti-gay bullying metaphor. I can also see Billy being overly macho in some situations to try to hid the face that he is gay. When Billy says “Shazam!”, 2 things can happen. In the past he has both traded places with Captain Marvel AND just been granted those powers, but keep his mind. So it’s really up in the air how it will happen this time around. It may even be something different more, like the two personalities constantly sharing his head space, a la Firestorm or the new Blue Beetle, but the magic word gives him the physical change and powers.

      • Neat. I love it when I learn stuff in the comments. In that case, Shazam is a good guess. I have no idea how they could make it clear he’s gay in a way that serves the story, but he’s certainly “iconic.” It also makes sense that they would have put the reins of that reveal in the hands Geoff Johns, who is kind of closer to those big editorial decisions than most other writers.

    • That would be a super interesting choice: not only would we have a character coming out of the closet, but also the character is an adolescent. A move like that would garner even more support for the comic book industry trying to provide positive role models for homosexual teens, as well as throw more wood on the crazyfire being stoked by One Million Moms.

      • Yeah, I like this one a lot too. Coupling sexual orientation with bullying could allow for some really interesting (and compelling) stories that you really wouldn’t have access to if they just made an adult gay. Like, so what if Superman’s gay? No one’s going to try to beat him up because of it.

        • I’m just not sure how they would “confirm” that Shazam is gay. Unlike pretty much all other heroes who have personal lives outside of super heroing, Shazam only shows up when there’s shit to be done. He’s kind of necessarily asexual. I think the case for the Elongated Man is a good one as far as something that’s meaningful to the character, rather than totally distracting (which is the only way I can imagine demonstrating Shazam’s sexuality).

          UNLESS Shazam looks exactly like John Waters. That would be hilarious. Just imagine that guy saying “Shazam!” Billy’s got the right sass for it.

  3. Did you guys know John Constantine is bisexual? I’ve learned a lot about fictional characters’ sexual orientation in the last few days.

    • Hahaha. Shelby keeps revealing these interesting tidbits about John Constantine. I like this fact coupled with the fact that he’s modeled off of Sting. The writers and artists just wanted to create a super sexy, super sexual dude who fights demons and stuff. I’d buy that pitch, too.

      • No shit. Alan Moore created the character because the artists on Swamp Thing “wanted to draw a guy who looked like Sting.”

        What’s not to like about that?

  4. Wouldn’t Kyle Rainer make a lot of sense? He’s always been more in-touch with his feelings than the other DC men (not that that makes someone gay). MORE IMPORTANTLY, he’s the leader of the Rainbow Brigade/is totally un-phased by Fatality’s breasts and Bleez’s ass (and was maybe a little excited to see Saint Walker).

  5. Pingback: Before Watchmen – Minutemen 2 | Retcon Punch

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