Poe Dameron is probably only accidentally a gay hero. He wasn't originally meant to survive the first act of Star Wars: The Force Awakens according to writer/director J.J. Abrams, so he doesn't have a real arc of his own. On paper, Poe Dameron is just a device to advance the plot. It's in Oscar Isaac's performance that he becomes something special, and someone Abrams knew he had to keep around.
Isaac gives Poe Dameron his charisma and smoldering intensity, and because his primary (human) relationship in the movie is with John Boyega's Finn, he gets to direct that charm and intensity towards him. In one of the characters' most pored over scenes together --- a scene that only exists because of Poe Dameron's reprieve from death --- the pilot gives Finn a look that's indistinguishable from lust, even biting his own lip as he tells him to keep the jacket they've come to share. It's one of the gayest things I've seen in a blockbuster movie, in the most positive and celebratory sense of the word, and it gave us reason to hope that Poe Dameron could be Star Wars' first onscreen gay hero. But is Poe Dameron actually gay, and what happens to our hopes and dreams if he's not?
The first trailer for Marvel's Captain America: Civil War dropped late last night, and it riled up all the feels that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are used to; the thrill of seeing a new character in action (hey, it's Black Panther, finally!); the wonder at the awe-inspiring action and athelticism (Steve doing helicopter stretches!); the worry about how Black Widow's wig will look this time (pretty good).
But this trailer --- and this movie --- brings extra feels, because it's the third and possibly final chapter in the MCU's greatest romance; the ballad of Bucky and Steve. If you came to this trailer hoping for some lingering glances and barely concealed intimations of love, you weren't going to leave disappointed. Let's review the gayest Stucky moments (that's Steve/Bucky) in the Civil War trailer.
Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, became comics' biggest gay superhero last week — again, but also for the first time, because nothing is ever simple in superhero comics. In a scene by Brian Michael Bendis and Mahmud Asrar in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #600, the older of two Bobby Drakes (from two different points in time) acknowledged his gayness to the other, younger Bobby. The younger Bobby had previously come out in a very similar scene in All-New X-Men #40 back in April, also by Bendis and Asrar. (Both scenes involved an unsolicited confrontation, an intrusive Jean Grey, and an acknowledgement of teammate Angel's good looks.)
While I have a few problems with how all of this was executed, from Jean's willingness to violate people's privacy to Marvel's willingness to taunt readers with an inexplicable six month delay between the two coming out scenes, I think that how Bobby came out matters much less than the fact that he came out at all. It's an especially welcome step forward coming less than a week after Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso fumbled the coming out of another Marvel character.
This week is Bisexual Awareness Week, an annual event intended to raise bisexual visibility and combat the marginalization of people who are attracted to both their own and other genders. Bisexuals face challenges not only within heteronormative mainstream culture, but within LGBTQ culture as well. Their identity is often challenged by straight and gay alike, and they're frequently compartmentalized as straight or gay based on their past, current, or preferred partners. Bisexual Awareness Week exists to challenge these preconceptions.
To mark the occasion, artist Kris Anka posted an image of some of his favorite bisexual comics heroes and villains on Twitter. His picks included John Constantine, Catwoman, Psylocke, Mystique, and Prodigy --- all confirmed on-panel bisexual characters --- plus a sixth character that some fans were surprised to see; Wonder Woman. Is Wonder Woman bisexual?
The Inhumans used to be one of the more fascinating minor oddities of the Marvel Universe; ultimately only about as important as the Atlanteans or Monster Island, but just as pleasingly weird. With Medusa's magnificent hair, Gorgon's thunderhooves, and Black Bolt's mute power in a world of chatty heroes, they were deservedly called 'uncanny' back when the X-Men were still a preppy study group.
But the Inhumans have become the "fetch" of the Marvel Universe; the more Marvel tries to make them happen, the more certain it seems that they never will. What makes the Inhumans' rise especially hard to accept is that it seems directly tied to the fall of the mutants. Today's X-Men are comics' most significant icons of otherness, and treating them as interchangeable with another set of outsiders is dehumanizing on a whole new level.
Superheroes meant a great deal to my sense of queer identity when I was growing up. The men were rarely drawn as sex symbols, but their athleticism and close male friendships were as close to homoeroticism as the culture allowed me. The presence of strange outsider heroes like Cloak and Dagger, the X-Men, and even DP7, combined with the fantasy of superhuman champions fighting on behalf of the weak and oppressed, made superheroes integral to my sense of self-worth when everything else conspired to tell me I was worthless.
With this new series of columns, 'Super', I'm going to look at some of the questions arising at the intersection of LGBTQ identity and superhero fiction, starting with a really vital one. Why isn't there a gay Ms Marvel?
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