As Pride Month comes to an end, it is a better time than ever to take a look at LGBT+ comic characters in the mainstream and examine the impact they’ve had on the comic community and beyond. These characters encompass the spectrum of sexualities and gender identities of their readers, offering much needed representation that can be hard to find in other mediums.
The famed Merc With A Mouth is, in fact, pansexual. While fanboys might bemoan this acknowledgement that Deadpool isn’t straight, that doesn’t make it any less true. Gerry Duggan, who was a Deadpool writer from 2012 to 2015, stated Deadpool’s attraction was to “anything with a pulse” in a tweet. In 2015, Gail Simone, who was a Deadpool writer off and on for over a decade, tweeted that she “always thought of Deadpool as pansexual.” This attraction can certainly be seen on the page, with Deadpool flirting with superheroes such as Thor, Wolverine, and Spiderman amongst other. And while Deadpool’s primary love interests in the comics have been women, that doesn’t make him straight by any means. And in the successful Deadpool films, while we see Wade with his primary love interest Vanessa, the flirting with Colossus is too obvious to be subtext. Ryan Reynolds himself stated he would like to see Wade get a boyfriend. Deadpool, a character who over the past few years has shifted from a 90’s Deathstroke rip-off to a household name, provides much needed representation for the pansexual community in media.
Apollo & Midnighter
One of comics’ most super couples, Apollo and Midnighter highlight long term relationships better than most couples in comics of any sexuality. Originally introduced by WildStorm, which later became a part of DC Comics, Apollo and Midnighter were both introduced in Stormwatch, and later became well known in The Authority. Apollo and Midnighter were only revealed to be a couple a year after being introduced, surprising fans of the Superman and Batman analogies. Over the course of their time with The Authority, Apollo and Midnighter were a mainstay of gay relationships in comics, earning The Authority Vol. 1 a GLAAD award. Their relationship displayed the rockiness of many others: fears of cheating, long-distance struggles, and finding ways to communicate through troubles. Eventually the two married and adopted young teammate Jenny Quantum together. When WildStorm merged with the DC Universe after Flashpoint, the two were shown separated in Midnighter’s solo miniseries due to Apollo’s worry over Midnighter’s extreme violence. While rather upsetting to see the two apart, this series was able to portray homophobia to those in the gay dating scene, something which Midnighter faced head-on. However, the recent Apollo and Midnighter miniseries shows that the two have reconciled and are back together, with Midnighter trekking through Hell to save Apollo’s soul.
One of the more recently introduced characters on this list, the current Batwoman is based upon an older character introduced in the 50’s ironically enough to combat beliefs that Batman was gay. The new Batwoman, Kate Kane, was introduced in 2006 during the 52 event, quickly showing readers her existing relationship with Detective Renee Montoya. Batwoman was then seen as possibly the highest profile gay character featured in a DC story. Kate’s origin allowed DC to explore modern day views of the LGBT community, with Kate being dishonorably discharged from the military after she was outed as a lesbian due to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Batwoman continued to be a major player in the DC spotlight, being part of a Justice League series and then gaining her own solo title during the New 52 line launch. This series drew ire from fans though for not allowing Kate to marry longtime girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, with DC stating that the planned wedding couldn’t progress because they believed their heroes couldn’t have happy endings. Currently, Batwoman is a major player in the Detective Comics title, as well as her own solo series post-Rebirth.
Asgard, Marvel’s land of the Norse gods, is also host to diverse characters from across the LGBT+ spectrum. Valkyrie, for example, is bisexual. The fierce warrior, first introduced in 1970, has been shown in relationships with both men and women, most recently having a short-lived romance with archeologist Annabelle Riggs while both were members of the Defenders. When Annabelle died, Valkyrie journeyed to Hel to rescue her, ultimately sacrificing her life force for Annabelle and confining them to share a body. Additionally, the Valkyrie introduced in Thor: Ragnarok was also bi, as confirmed by actress Tessa Thompson, who also recently came out as bisexual. Another Asgardian, Angela, is a more recent addition. Originally an Image Comics character, Angela was introduced into Marvel Comics in 2013, establishing her as Thor and Loki’s long-lost sister. Readers soon met Angela’s lover, Sera, who was discovered to be trapped in Hel with her handmaiden Leah. Angela soon took over Hel and became its new queen to free Sera and Leah. Also a fierce warrior, Sera is one of the few known trans characters who is in the forefront of Marvel right now. Another character, whose sexuality and gender is often debated, is Loki. One of the most well known Marvel characters right now due to his movie appearances and long tenure in the comics, Loki has been given many different facets to his identity over the years. Recently, he’s even shifted ages around quite a bit. Most recently that age shift to being a teenager in Agent of Asgard left Loki with new possibilities. Then writer Al Ewing stated at the time that his Loki was genderfluid and bisexual. This would make sense for the character, who in the past had a history of changing into a female-presenting form, but one could argue the difference there between sex and gender. With a writer having confirmed some queerness to the character, it sheds a new light on Loki.
One of the most famous superheroes in the world, Wonder Women has been around since 1941 and has long been a core DC character. One of the main Trinity, Wonder Woman carries a large weight of being a role model for generations of fans to come. And that is why the recent confirmation of Diana as bisexual is so important. In 2016, Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka gave confirmation to the long-speculated question during an interview with Comicosity, saying that there is no real concept of gay on the fictional island of Themyscira, that women just love other women there because that’s just what they know, including Diana. He went on to state “Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.” Many fans have been waiting a long time for this acknowledgement of Diana’s sexuality. In the past, Wonder Woman has been in relationships with men, most notably Steve Trevor, but has been hinted at in terms of her relationships with other women. Hopefully in the future writers can utilize this fully-realized aspect of Diana and incorporate it into their storytelling.
Miss America (America Chavez)
This recently-introduced character first popped up in 2011 and has been making huge waves in the Marvel Universe. Not long after appearing with the Teen Brigade in Vengeance, America joined the Young Avengers and later the all-female A-Force. Most recent she’s been a member of the Ultimates and will soon be in the new West Coast Avengers team. This kind of exposure is important for fans looking for a character to identify with, as America is a lesbian and grew up raised by two mothers. America also recently became Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBT+ character to star in an ongoing series with the launch of her title America in 2017. America’s humorous personality has gained her a large following quickly, with many copying her simplistic costumes for cosplays at conventions worldwide. America is set to appear in the animated film Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors later this year, but maybe one day fans can see her in the MCU.