When Obama made his groundbreaking public announcement advocating gay marriage, he probably didn’t expect his earth-shattering liberal legacy to extend first and foremost to fictional characters. But love moves in mysterious ways, and in this case dons a cape and some lycra. Marvel Comics’ only openly gay X-Man, Northstar, is proposing to his boyfriend.
This all happens in the “Astonishing X-Men” issue out this week. The couple are to have a wedding ceremony in New York City’s Central Park, only after Northstar – who came out in a pioneering issue of the comic in 1992 – plucks up the courage to propose to his long-term boyfriend Kyle, which plays out with some rather adorable self-awareness in the speech bubbles:
Northstar, ears pointing in tense anticipation: “We need to talk…I’m not going to vomit. I’m just…nervous.”
Kyle, nonplussed: “Are we being invaded by aliens again?”
Marvel decided that this momentous occasion should take place when the state of New York legalized gay marriage in June last year. Tom Brevoort, Marvel executive editor, explained to New York Daily News:
“A lot of our Marvel super heroes live in and around New York City so it just immediately became an issue we started thinking about.”
This storyline is the latest example of the comic book world’s concerted effort to raise LGBT awareness using its popular and well-known characters.
Dan Didio (not a comic character himself, despite how it sounds), editor in chief of D.C. Comics – which publishes the Superman and Batman titles, among others – dropped a tantalizing hint a few days ago that one of D.C.’s characters would soon be flying out of the closet, although our next gay superhero’s identity is under wraps until next month. (And no, the longstanding Batman-Robin bromance doesn’t count).
Actually, D.C. already has one crime-fighting gay heroine: Batwoman, described as “a lesbian socialite by night and a crime-fighter by later in the night,” who made her first appearance with the D.C. imprint Detective Comics in 2009.
Herndon Graddick, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, praised Northstar and Kyle’s coming nuptials: “When a major comic publisher like Marvel not only includes, but publicly celebrates, the legal wedding of two of its gay characters, it reflects how supporting same-sex couples has become the new normal … Readers expect to see their realities portrayed in these fictional worlds and today that includes married gay and lesbian couples.”