First Gay Superhero? Actually, No…

I’ve been hearing about this all over the place, and it’s been annoying the hell out of me. Stan Lee is set to unveil a new gay superhero – yes, I said ‘new’, not ‘first’, as some people seem to think. There have been several openly gay superheroes in comics already, all of which passed under the public’s radar. Several of them have been criticised for either being background characters with little importance to the stories they appear in, for being stereotypes or, in one unfortunate incident, for being killed off in three different continuities almost simultaneously. But they’ve been around for a while all the same.

So what’s the big deal? This story seems to be the source of most of the confusion, implying that the character, Thom Creed, will be the first of his kind. That would actually be true (to the best of my knowledge) assuming that Creed will actually appear in a television series, not a print one. I can understand why people might hear ‘Stan Lee’ and assume that he’s making a new comic book character, but come on – twenty seconds with Google is enough to confirm that gay superheroes are no longer an untapped resource in the world of print media.

I must admit that I’m a bit wary about the idea of a gay superhero aimed at a teenage audience. I think people have an understandable but unfortunate tendency to deliver preachy, overly simplistic messages in stories like this; if the TV series (or whatever it turns out to be) has a first episode that features a mean-spirited, irredeemably evil homophobic jock, I’m going to stop watching. Having said that, it would be interesting to see a high school same-sex romance handled realistically.

(Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered that the character is based on the protagonist of the novel ‘Hero’ by Perry Moore, which I’ve heard about but never read. When I initially saw the news stories about a ‘first gay superhero’ and realized that this was actually some sort of mainstream project as opposed to a comic book, I immediately thought ‘He had better not have healing powers’.

In the novel, he has healing powers.

Bleh. Just once, I’d like to see a sympathetic, minority character in a story like this with a superpower that’s actually destructive, rather than one that more or less guarantees they’ll be some sort of saint-like agent for the powers of goodness. Now we can have a scene where Thom heals the homophobic jock and all is symbolically forgiven between them! I can’t wait.)


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