5 Comic Book Characters that have Come Out

Renee Montoya – Gotham Central #6-10

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Although she was technically publically ‘outed’ and we don’t actually see Renee come out to her parents, Montoya coming out to her parents is an important moment of LGBT issues in comic books. The experience turns out not to be the greatest one, however what makes this so significant is actually the pure emotion it portrays and not the act.

Before she does so there is a scene where she is asked by her brother why she wants to tell their parents as it will only make them ‘suffer’ and she defends herself by telling him that being a lesbian is part of her and that she refuses to lie to them anymore. This is made even more symbolic by the way she repeatedly shifts between speaking English and Spanish. The Spanish represents her heritage or identity whereas the English represents her ability to conform or seem ‘ordinary’ to everyone else in Gotham as well as the reader. This automatically can be paralleled with her hidden lesbian identity in relation to the heteronormative façade she portrays.

After coming out to her parents we are presented with her experience of how it went. Already aware that her parents will most likely not take her coming out to them well, we feel Renee’s pain and sense of loss the moment she tells her girlfriend what happened. Her mother’s extreme religious view towards her own daughter is heartbreaking yet depressingly realistic to some people’s own experiences with coming out to their parents. What adds to this heart crushing scene is when Renee breaks down into tears; until this moment Montoya has been portrayed as a hard faced cop who hasn’t let anyone get to her including her homophobic colleagues. The gritty realism of Renee Montoya’s coming out not only sheds light on homophobia in the workplace but also homophobia in strict religious households where the hate of homosexuality can overpower the love of a child.

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Iceman – Uncanny X-Men #600 (present drake) & All-New X-Men #40 (past drake)

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With the LGBT connotations that can be easily made between homosexuality and the struggles the x-men face in the comics, it would have been remiss not to have mentioned an x-man in this list. Not only is it an x-man but it is one of the first; Iceman, however his coming out is one of the most complicated due to time travel. In short, there are two versions of iceman; one from the past and one from the present.

The past Bobby Drake (Iceman) is 1st outed by Jean Grey through telepathy who questions him as to why he acts overly straight when she knows he is gay. Attempting to deny his sexuality, she confronts him with his own thoughts. In this sense, Jean Grey allows the past Iceman to truly be honest with himself.

Later on, the past version of Iceman confronts his present self over his discovery of himself and questions him why he hasn’t come out yet. The present Iceman repeats the same reason his younger self gave that he is scared of having to deal with being both a mutant and gay and one is easier to hide than the other. Again, this ‘coming out’ creates something that one battles with mentally into something physical, the past Iceman representing his honest self and the present Iceman representing the straight façade that a lot of gay people put on before coming out.

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The Pied Piper – The Flash #53

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This scene is given a strong impact as it is actually the first opening pages of the Fast Friends story line. It is brought about by a discussion between The Flash and the newly reformed Pied Piper talking about the rumours that the Joker being gay is true or not. The Flash naively states that there are telling features before Pied Piper claims that he can’t think of any villains that are homosexual other than himself. This automatically counters the Flash’s idea of the gay stereotype and ultimately breaks down the stereotype and stigma behind being gay with the suggestion that homosexuality isn’t evil.

Although The Flash is taken aback by the Pied Piper’s revelation and appears to leave him standing on the rooftop alone straight after, his coming out is handled very well. The Pied Piper’s coming out scene accepts that sometimes it can be an awkward situation to have however; it portrays Piper as being comfortable in his sexuality, stating his sexual orientation in a matter of fact way. Most importantly, DC doesn’t define the character by his sexuality but more his coming out is an addition to his character already.

Northstar – Alpha Flight #106

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Perhaps the most influential of all these gay comic book characters, Alpha Flight’s Northstar’s coming out is pretty blunt. However, what it makes up for in frankness it makes up for in pure bravery.

After adopting an abandoned baby girl born with AIDs who dies a few weeks later, Northstar uses his fame as a superhero and Olympic medal winner to publicly announce that his is gay in order to give media attention to HIV and how to prevent it. Although not a disease that only affects gay men, it was considered at the time of his coming out as one. Additionally, Northstar’s coming out was also Marvel’s first attempt at introducing a gay superhero into the universe, completely disregarding any trace of of the Comics Code Authority having ever prevented homosexuality from being discussed in comic books. Moreover Northstar also became the first X-Men to have a gay wedding showing that Northstar is a significant character in discussing gay rights in the Marvel universe.

By saying ‘I am gay’, Northstar not only represents how coming out can feel like you are being judged by everyone but also it gives hope that by coming out you can not only help yourself but help others around you; whether that be them going through the same feelings as you have or in some other way.

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Anole – New Mutants vol. 2

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Not an actual representation of coming out but one that would have made a big impact if it had gone ahead. There were plans for the Marvel writers to give Anole a coming out scene where his family and friends are horrified by his sexuality and ultimately reject him entirely. This would have lead Anole to have committed suicide. It would have been interesting to have seen the repercussions of such a negative experience of coming out as it would have drawn light on the gay teen suicide rate. However, by scrapping these plans, Marvel have still given Anole an important role in LGBT comic book history as he has slowly become recognised as a gay character who is comfortable in his own sexuality and at times has helped others around him come to terms with their own as well as shed light on some of the other experiences that the LGBT community have had.

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No two Gays about it: Celebrating our sexuality in different ways

First things first, I am gay. That is not how I usually introduce myself on a regular basis but I believe it is important when talking about LGBT+ topics. As I am sure anyone reading this is aware, it is not a choice, it is not anyone’s fault and it most definitely is not wrong. In fact, its just an aspect of what makes me, me.

What must be made clear however, is that being gay,bi, lesbian or transgender is not everything that makes someone themselves.  Being gay doesn’t mean I am not intelligent, funny or male. It doesn’t mean I like typically feminine things. Just like all women don’t follow the stereotypical female tropes, I don’t follow the gay stereotype, I dont use skin creams, I don’t wear make-up and I don’t like shopping. In fact, at first glance, you might not realise I am a homosexual. I am sure that after meeting me you might suspect I was but that is not to say that all gay people are easy to spot.  Just like you couldn’t tell who is a diabetic in a room full of people, you can’t always tell who is homosexual or bisexual in a room. Yes, some gay people define their complete identities around their sexuality because it is an important part of their life, and, after centuries of homosexuality being illegal and still being stigmatized by some, who can blame them.

However, being gay is not something that defines someone, they define what it means to be gay. Some people explicitly portray themselves as gay,bi or lesbian while others keep that part of them personal. I make no secret of my sexuality but I also don’t bring it up all the time. For me, my homosexuality is a small part of who I am, I am not ashamed by it, nor am I overly empowered by it, it is just a fact, I believe that in order to stop stigmatization of all forms of sexuality, we should stop Othering our sexuality from heterosexualism and instead normalise it, there is very little difference in any of them any way. We all love and want to be loved by someone after all.

Feeling as empty as my Closet: ‘Outing’ Post-Coming out Depression

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One subject that exists in the shadows of publicised LGBT issues is post-coming out depression. Perhaps, just like any other form of depression, it is thought that, by simply accepting its existence tempts the Gods to inflict you with it like a curse. However, the truth is with nearly a fifth of adults in the UK suffering from some form of anxiety or depression, it is a common mental illness that can be helped if we stop the stigma that is put upon it. If we did, the depression some feel after coming out might be better known.

It is always suggested by everyone that by coming out to your friends, family and colleagues you will feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders and I do not disagree with that but nobody mentions how you might also feel after. Coming out is a big change as well as an important writ of passage so it would be glib to suggest people won’t feel a little odd afterwards and this ‘oddness’ might cause them to become depressed. I for one naively believed that by coming out, my life would alter completely; I believed that I would instantly find a man with a body that would make Adonis jealous, I’d automatically be more funny, witty and confident in myself and I would be hosting wild soirees surrounded by other immediate gay and lesbian friends. Obviously this was not the case.

Despite the amazing support I received from everyone I told, I felt like my life was lacking something. Nothing had drastically changed and life continued the way it always had other than the sense of freedom I had gained from escaping the closet door. Yet, it was this freedom that had made me depressed. By being honest about my sexuality I had opened up the flood gates into a much more authentic yet vulnerable world that felt too vast compared to the safe bubble I had now physically popped with three words; ‘I like guys’. Since my expectations of coming out had been too high I started to see myself as a failure.  I entered a rather distressing state which led me to a place I would not wish upon anyone. I could not understand why, after coming out, I was still single. I had significantly altered my life yet still felt alone. Luckily, I found help before it was too late but it is saddening to know that others have taken their own lives because of the same problem.

I cannot express how important it is to know that although coming out is a major stepping stone to a better future for homosexuals and bisexuals; it is not an automatic change. Although not everyone will suffer from post-coming out depression, there is a small chance that someone will. Since coming out is such a big deal, after it has happened, there is a void where so much worry and stress had been and it can be filled with a sense of nothingness. You are not alone, let things come at their own time and the emptiness of closet with you outside it will fill once more with a sense of belonging and happiness as you adapt to your new surroundings as an openly gay man or woman. It might not lead to a new you but an honest you.

Out of the closet and into the fire: the fear of coming out

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I ask the question, what has been the most frightening experience you can think of? The realisation that the essay you haven’t started is due in the next day?  Waking up in the middle of the night from a noise in the kitchen when you are home alone? Witnessing the creepy animatronics on the ‘It’s a small world ride’ in Disneyland? Personally, nothing has made my palms sweat more profusely than uttering the three words:  ‘Dad, I’m Gay’. ‘Coming out’ is the moment in a homosexual’s life where one must balance up the odds between the possibility of their family and friends disowning or accepting them and it is a daunting, dualistic decision.

Despite the huge progress that has been accomplished in equal rights for the LGBT community, it is no wonder why there are still those who, in fear of prejudice, hide within the comforts of their ‘closet’ doors and lie to those around them. One cannot blame them, it was only a few generations ago in Britain, where not only was homosexuality illegal, it was punishable by death. So it made sense to hide away but, let it be known that, these closets that appear so hassle-free and comfortable at first (perhaps in my case because of all the fur coats) will ultimately become your prison when that door is locked shut by confining a part of yourself; limited by living a lie.

We must break out of our comfort zone if we are to ever be free. How can we truly be ourselves when we never allow part of us to shine? How can we expect adventure if we never step out of the comfort of our symbolic furniture? Moreover, how can we expect to experience one of life’s paramount purposes, a relationship of true love with someone else, be it man or woman, when we refuse to have a relationship with our true selves?

I must admit my ‘coming out’ story is nothing special; as much as I would love to tell people I had to endure Herculean labours in order for my family to accept my sexuality, the truth is I didn’t. Despite this, I still regard ‘coming out’ as one of my greatest achievements and I honestly believe that, whether you like men, women or both, you owe it to yourself, and significant others, to let that rainbow flag proudly fly.

Oscar Wilde, a man imprisoned for being gay, once claimed that “Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal” and he is right, I hope there will be a time where “the love that dare not speak its name” (as Wilde was forced to defend) will not be something to cause stress or fear so that all those who create a false façade to hide their love will feel comfortable enough to show the world their true selves.