Over the years, comic books have challenged some pretty amazing thoughts and topics, haven’t they? Prejudice, racism, sexism, discrimination, bigotry, hatred, drug use, and sexuality. The medium has become more than just a “good guys VS bad guys” and superheroes VS supervillains type medium that it initially began as. Writers have creatively found ways to talk about and address real-world problems without ever coming across as too righteous or virtuous. Of the many issues they’ve tackled, none have received more attention as of late than the sexuality of some characters.
And rightfully so. It’s only now after decades of storytelling that characters who are a part of the LGBTQ community are being accepted. In fact, more characters than at any point in history are being written or rewritten as LGBTQ. For this guy, that’s long overdue. I sat back one night thinking about all the characters who have come out. Doing this, I wanted to figure out who has caused the most headway in the medium. And now, after some careful thinking, I present to you the top 10 LGBTQ comic book characters!
10. John Constantine
John Constantine first made his bisexuality known in 1992. In Hellblazer #51 he narrates the following statement: “Girlfriends, the odd boyfriend… they all have a nasty habit of walking out on me.” Although his bisexuality was widely known, it wasn’t really acted on. That is, aside from the occasional line or two in comics, Constantine never displayed any form of attraction to men.
Nope. Thankfully, after a number of live-action appearances, the version that appears on the Legends of Tomorrow television series has made it clear he’s attracted both women and men. This version of the character is the most authentic version we’ve seen to date. And it’s a breath of fresh air.
Movies and television have done a phenomenal job of bringing mainstream audiences muscle-bound and spandex-wearing superheroes. The problem is that this version of the superhero isn’t entirely accurate. Instead, it’s politically correct…and the world doesn’t really need politically correct right now, does it? It needs real-world representation.
9. Poison Ivy
If you’ve followed my in-depth articles over the last couple of years, you know that I’ve done one on Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy is one of my favorite characters in comics. She’s confident, sexy, powerful, and an environmentalist. Different from many other comic book characters, Poison Ivy isn’t just a cardboard cutout with no reason for being.
As a character, Poison Ivy represents everything that’s associated with feminism. Throughout her history, she has transformed herself into the definition of a strong woman. She’s independent, has a mind of her own, reminds you that she doesn’t need a man, and stands up for other women. A simple search through a local comic shop and you’ll exactly what I mean.
Not only does Poison Ivy believe that she’s superior to all men, but she believes that all women are superior to men. Like so many others on this list of LGTBQ Comic Book Characters, Poison Ivy has pushed the medium to places it should’ve gone decades ago.
8. Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is the on and off again girlfriend of the Joker, the star of DC’s cinematic universe, and the reason that DC was able to connect with fans at a time that they never thought they could. She’s younger than most popular comic characters and a little less mature. More than the above and aside from Batman, she’s arguably DC’s most marketable property.
For years, she and Poison Ivy has shared moments, words, and innuendos that hinted at her sexuality. However, DC never admitted or denied anything. In 2017, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner finally confirmed what fans had suspected for years…she was bisexual. Yep. In Harley Quinn #25, she and Poison Ivy shared a comic book kiss.
Northstar is the twin brother of Aurora and a prominent member of Alpha Flight. As a twin, he and Aurora have a special bond. When the two come together they are able to A) move at the speed of light and B) release a blinding light upon touching. Northstar is known for many things. Of them, he’s the first openly gay man to wed inside the pages of a comic book. Yep. Astonishing X-Men #51 saw Northstar wed his longtime partner, Kyle. After releasing the landmark issue, then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso accurately said this.
“Our comics are always best when they respond to and reflect developments in the real world. We’ve been doing that for decades, and this is just the latest expression of that.” For added context to Alonso’s words, Northstar’s marriage came shortly after the state of New York (where most superheroes live) made gay marriages legal.
The most tragic thing about Iceman isn’t that it took years for him to be recognized as an Omega Level mutant. No, the most tragic thing about Iceman is that it took decades for him to reveal himself as gay. Iceman first appeared alongside Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Professor Xavier, and Beast in X-Men #1 back in 1963. He was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and has become a central figure in X-Men stories since. In 2015, readers finally learned what they had suspected for years…Iceman was gay.
This happened after the original X-Men traveled forward in time to the present day. After sitting down with present-day Jean Grey, Iceman learns that she already knows what he’s afraid to admit…he’s gay. Shortly thereafter, present-day Iceman confesses that he’s had to live with his secret all his adult life. Iceman’s admission is just another example of how and why X-Men comics have been such an integral part of pop culture for decades.
Wiccan and Hulking (William “Billy” Kaplan and Theodore “Teddy” Altman) were first introduced in 2005’s Young Avengers. Although it appeared that the two were more than just friends, their relationship took some time to unfold on paper. Once it did, picture this…It’s August in the year 2020 and Marvel has just released Empyre #4. The issue looks to be no different than any other issues that have or will come out that month. After reading the issue, you learn that it’s very different from everything else.
Why? Inside its pages reveal the first ever superhero same-sex wedding. Here’s how it happened. In Empyre #4, the duo makes their way to Las Vegas to marry before Hulking must leave to become the Emperor of the Kree/Skrull alliance. Although small, the wedding was beautiful and attended by their Young Avenger companions and teammates. Make no mistake. This wedding is a giant leap forward for comic books.
Unlike the other LGBTQ comic book characters on this list, Loki has also been incorrectly labeled as genderfluid. Genderfluid is defined as not identifying as either a man or a woman. This isn’t Loki as Loki is a man. I suppose that he has been labeled this way because it’s the simplest way to describe his shapeshifting abilities. That is because he can shapeshift between being a man and a woman, it’s easiest to label him as genderfluid. No matter which way he is labeled, Loki has made it clear that his sexuality is based on different cultural beliefs than those of Earth.
“My culture doesn’t really share your concept of sexual identity. There are sexual acts. That’s it.” His history backs this up. He has Fathered Fenrir the Wolf, Jörmungandr the Serpent, Nari, Hel, Sleipnir the Horse. As one of Marvel’s most popular villains, Loki’s coming out has done more for comic books than many other characters on this list of LGBTQ comic book characters.
3. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was famously created by William Moulton Marston. William Moulton Marston was famously married to Elizabeth Marston. He and his wife famously had a girlfriend named Olive Byrne. Together, the three famously gave birth to four children. Talk about a lot of famously.
Although they’ve never confirmed anything, since her debut, DC has dropped hints about Wonder Woman’s sexuality. That is, until Greg Rucka. After being asked a series of questions about her sexuality, he replied with a simple “the answer is obviously yes”.
Whether or not DC continues to explore her sexuality is to be determined. However, we do know that she is what many, myself included, believed, and hoped she would be…a role model for people of all ages, races, and sexualities.
Longtime Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan has said that Deadpool is sexually attracted to “anything with a pulse”. Over the years he has hit on/made comments to/been aroused by/unable to contain his excitement about almost every character under the Marvel umbrella. Domino, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Cable, The Punisher, Copycat, Siryn, Orka, and more.
Deadpool is a breath of fresh air in an industry that has often taken itself far too seriously. Over the years the writers have done a great job of using his innately comedic dialogue to talk about his attractions. Even Ryan Reynolds (the Canadian actor responsible for bringing him to the big screen) has gone on record saying that he wants to explore his pansexuality in future movies. Because he attracts readers of all ages and beliefs and opinions of all kinds, Deadpool is one of the greatest LGBTQ comic book characters…ever.
At a relatively young age, Kate Kane, a young, wealthy, lesbian, Jewish socialite was traumatized by the kidnapping and murder of both her sister and mother. Left to live with her father, when she could she joined the Marines as a means to impress him. Unfortunately, Kate was discharged from service after she came out as gay.
After her dismissal, she found herself at the wrong end of a mugging. Luckily, just as the mugger moved in, Batman arrived and rescued her. Sensing the thrill that comes with being Batman, Kate transformed herself into the newest version of Batwoman. Within issues of her transformation, the audience learns that she has a girlfriend in Renee Montoya.
Since coming out, Batwoman has become a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community. Not only did she have one of the most beautifully drawn comic books in recent history but she was also the first openly gay comic book character to lead a television show.