I apologise to my less nerdy audience, but I’m going to have a bit of a rant about comics, specifically the news that original DC Comics Green Lantern Alan Scott is going to come out as gay later this year.
As a fan of gay and queer rights (an odd thing to be a “fan” of, but I can’t find a better way to word that) I’m all for positive gay role models in media and literature. That’s not a thing I take any issue with, and anyone who sees such a thing as detrimental is woefully ignorant, both of the situations and needs of others, and the fact that art has been stuffed full of varied genders and sexualities for as long as we we’ve been putting words in order and calling them stories.
No, what I have an issue with is the specific choosing of Alan Scott as DC’s new gay on the block. Ok, so you can’t suddenly decide artistic properties of epic proportions like Batman, Superman or Wonder woman are gay (although the question of Why not? is a fairly good one), and changing Aquaman in such a way would produce far too much predictable comedy. But… Alan Scott?
Firstly, he’s been married. Twice. To women. He’s had children. At no point has he ever mentioned or hinted at a nagging uncertainty about his heterosexual relationships, nor has he ever expressed anything but love (and the occasional demonic rages) to them. He’s not there for a green card, or making personal sacrifices to show good paternity.
Also, he’s Alan Scott. Despite being a key figure in the history of DC Comics, he’s pretty much a nobody. His only place in the current DC universe is to their new Earth2 comic, a series that seems to be all that saves him from getting tossed on the trash pile with a host of other rejected vintage characters. It’s basically where they shunt the characters that aren’t good enough for their “real” world, but are too iconic to utterly get rid of.
Finding out Alan Scott is gay is like finding out one of the Raggydolls was a little bit racist. It just doesn’t matter.
So who would I suggest instead? Well keeping the theme (and the unfortunate abundance of “ring” jokes) I’d go with another Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, of who I’ve been a longtime fan. On the stereotype side of things, he’s well groomed, sensitive, and very close to his mother.
A little more seriously, Kyle has an appalling track record with women (those that keep their heads), often letting relationships fall apart for no feasible reason, and consistently failing romantically without ever revealing what tragic flaw it is that keeps him from being happy. He has an extremely close relationship with the Flash, an admiration that goes beyond the normal when it is revealed that he has often imagined what their children would look like.
The realist in me (and to be fair that’s most of me) can’t help but feel cynical, that for the publishers this is less about appealing to a wider audience and more about appealing to a wider consumer base. This isn’t DC’s first gay character. They already have a strong-but-boring lesbian Batwoman, and recently acquired gay parents Apollo and Midnighter. All of this was done without fanfare, without driving attention to the titles and cash to the registers. It can’t be a coincidence that Alan Scott’s news is walking in tandem with the announcement of Marvel’s first gay wedding.
While an ongoing identity crisis as Alan Scott rediscovers himself might make for excellent and socially relevant reading, DC is far too well known for sweeps of the eraser and the retcon brush, and will no doubt just bundle everything heterosexual Alan ever did into the “it never happened” bin.
Fiction needs less archetypal queer characters, and more boring background homosexuals. Gives us a new hero who is gay but in a way that has no bearing on his story and never really comes up. Give us a transexual Kryptonian who’s a Kyrptonian first and a transexual second. Equality in texts shouldn’t be about making the repressed or marginalised out as better or more luminescent that the perceived norm, but about integration, and fair representation of real world demographics.