Are People More Comfortable With Lesbians Than Gay Men?
I’m not even going to dare to edit this down, because every word is dead on. I just want to note, that these words posted below aren’t mine. Vaneta Rogers is a talented writer over at Comic Book Resources, and I gobble up all of her columns. Likewise, Allan Heinberg and James Robinson is a talented writer and I admire his work very much. I’ve posted Roger’s section on Homosexuality In Comics below, but her entire article on diversity as a whole in the medium is worth a read. Do go on and check it out at CBR.
Homosexuality in Comics
Another element of diversity that has been recently introduced into mainstream superhero comics is homosexuality. As Newsarama reported yesterday, even the Justice League of America has a gay male superhero whose boyfriend is also a crimefighter.
Yet there does seem to be an odd disparity among gay crimefighters, because lesbian heroes outnumber gay men.
“I hate to generalize in terms of gender,” said Allan Heinberg, who created two gay male teens for the Marvel superhero team Young Avengers, “but my experience in the mainstream media has been that general audiences are more comfortable with violence than they are with sexuality — and more comfortable with lesbian sexuality than with gay male sexuality.”
“Are our readers more comfortable with lesbian characters rather than gay male characters? Absolutely,” Winick said, admitting that he has introduced more female gay characters than males. “I don’t know why audiences are more comfortable with that, but it’s probably, you know, the most obvious reason imaginable — that our heterosexual male readers don’t really mind lesbians. Our readers, who are mostly male, are more comfortable with that, for almost ridiculous reasons.”
“I think we have a mostly male consumer base,” Rucka said. “I think that there’s still a strong undercurrent of people who are threatened by gay men. Lesbians are more palatable, because lesbians are an easier fantasy for gay or straight men to deal with. But yeah, I don’t think there’s much question about that. I think the evidence fares it out. We may have an outrage when female homosexual characters are introduced, but that’s nothing compared to the outrage when two men are seen kissing on a comic book page. That’s an audience result. That’s a reaction to what they’re seeing and, I think, a discomfort in it.”
James Robinson, who was the writer that recently added a gay male superhero to the Justice League, said readers may be uncomfortable with gay male heroes, but he pointed toward how it only represents what exists in the real world. “I know that whether or not they’re allowed to talk about it, you have brave gay soldiers in every army in the world, serving their country. You have gay policemen. One of my best friends in San Francisco is a gay policeman. Gay firemen,” he said. “Every walk of life where people are putting their lives on the line, there’s gays doing it as well as straights. So why not superheroes too?”
You can read more of Roger’s thoughts on diversity within the comic book industry at Comic Book Resources.