Up, Up and Out of the Closet

BY Jase Peeples

July 18 2011 8:10 AM ET

DC COMICS BATWOMAN (COURTESY) ADVOCATE.COM

 Gay characters in mainstream comics are a growing minority, but gay characters in a long-term relationship are something we’ve rarely seen. Was there any concern at DC about incorporating a gay male couple with an established relationship into the superhero ranks?
Actually there was absolutely no concern about that. The only thing that we discussed long and hard was the idea of where those characters would be in relation to their [own] relationship. Because they had an established relationship in the stories that were being told within the Wildstorm universe—and this is the first time they’re being seen in the DC Universe—we wanted to build them from scratch and watch an emerging relationship between these two characters. So in this particular case, Apollo is much more out and much more comfortable with himself [while] Midnighter is naturally a little more repressed. You’re going to see the two characters working side by side and showing the difficulties of working together, learning and growing as a team and then ultimately as a couple.

In addition to Batwoman, Apollo and Midnighter, you’re also introducing a female bisexual African American superhero in Voodoo. Was it a conscious decision to introduce characters from across the LGBT spectrum?

Yes. What we really wanted to do was show the diversity of our audience across the line of our books. Right now we have such a wide fan base and we wanted to create characters and stories that really reflected [that] fan base.

DC has several popular teenage heroes such as Robin, Wonder Girl, Superboy and the other Teen Titans. With gay teens becoming more visible in the media, can readers expect to see a teenaged gay superhero in the future?
One of the things we’re very focused on doing for these types of stories is rather than [change an existing] character, we want to make sure that this is the basis of who that character is right from the start. So if we’re going to introduce a gay character in Teen Titans, we want to make it a new character and make sure that is an iatrical part of who he is, or who she is, right from the start so we can really lean and grow with her or him.

Do you think there’s something inherent about superheroes that make them more relatable to gay readers?
I think there’s a lot of empowerment that takes place in these stories, not just for gay readers, but for everyone. There’s [that] freeing aspect of when they put the costume on that allows them to transcend their normal life. If their normal life becomes oppressive, this is their escape from that and I think that relates to anybody. More importantly I think everyone wants to embrace that and run along with it.

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