Last week, Marvel Comics announced that the next “Astonishing X-Men” issue would feature two male characters getting married. This statement came shortly after DC Comics said that a previously introduced character would return as publically gay. Both decisions come on the heels of President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, striking up a national dialogue about the social issue. While it appears that the statements may be political gestures, they are more importantly comically obvious moves that are exemplary in demonstrating the natural progression to include homosexual characters in comic books, movies, and television.
On June 20, Marvel’s issue “Astonishing X-Men #51” will feature two well-known characters, Northstar and Kyle, getting married. Marvel editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso reminded readers, “The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window, so we strive to make sure our characters, relationships and stories are grounded in that reality.” The issue has been in the works for over a year now, attempting to reflect the reality of the two characters home, New York, where as of last year, homosexuals can legally marry. It only seems logical that more and more characters like Northstar and Kyle will and should be presented as people who are indeed just outside our windows.
In the same vein, DC Comics intention to reintroduce one of their heroes as gay, may have been politically motivated by President Obama’s support of gay marriage, but represents a changing spirit in mass-produced media. It is almost ironic that one of the most archaic, still existing forms of entertainment would be one of the most progressive.
While both announcements do fall under a recent, but natural advancement to have gays play roles in mainstream entertainment—highlighted by shows like Glee and Modern Family—there has been some inevitable backlash. The organization One Million Moms, a stepsister of the American Family Association, somehow took offense to the idea of a gay wedding in two wildly popular comic books. Saying “children desire to be just like superheroes … can you imagine little boys saying, ‘I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?’” One Million Moms is missing the larger ripple effect that these superheroes could produce. Wouldn't it be ideal to have your son, gay or straight, say, “I want to be happy like the characters in X-Men”?
In the same way that the recently popular television show Girls is being criticized for not including characters of more ethnically diverse backgrounds, the same complaints should be placed on comic books and entertainment in general with regards to lack of homosexual characters.
Marvel and DC Comics are helping disintegrate rigid social boundaries that are meant to be broken. If every move or change made in any form of entertainment was scrutinized to fit a specific group of social beliefs, Archie would be condemned for being unfaithful to Veronica and Spiderman would be accused of witchcraft—both are frowned upon in the Bible. At least the gay marriage featured in the X-Men comics promotes values that are respected by almost every American family: love, commitment, happiness, and loyalty.