If you're not a comic nerd or you haven't heard the rumors, DC announced today that they're turning comic books on their head by making "an iconic character," the Green Lantern, gay.
And believe it or not, I'm against it. But maybe not for the reasons you'd expect.
For starters, it's not actually the Green Lantern. It's Alan Scott, the old timey Green Lantern. And it's the Alan Scott who lives on Earth 2, an alternate universe version of DC's (recently re-booted) "normal" universe. To say he's "iconic" is like saying Krypto the Super Dog is iconic. Sure, he's been around awhile, and I guess technically he's in comic books, but no one really gives two craps. (Somewhere a DC exec is furiously scribbling on a notepad "OMG GAY SUPER DOG = $$$$?!") So I'm a little miffed at DC's relentless "teasing" of this "iconic" change since it was a pretty transparent and ham-fisted attempt and pandering to a gay audience.
And why the hell does it have to be the Green Lantern? What'd he do?
It's not that I'm upset that the Green Lantern, the most manly and heterosexual dude to ever hang out in a spandex bodysuit in secret hideouts with other dudes wearing spandex fetish gear, is suddenly gay. I don't read GL, or whatever version of GL Alan Scott apparently pops up in. I don't read DC mags at all any more since they pulled their licensing and I can't get them on the Comixology app on my Kindle (seriously, guys, that was the whole reason I got the Kindle Fire). But if you're going to do this, if you're going to say, "Okay, we're joining the 21st century," why shoehorn gayness onto a guy who's been not gay since 1941?
If you want a gay character who resonates with your audience, a character who will draw people in and give them someone to relate to or be inspired by or feel good about, then you need to create that character from scratch. And you need to take the time to give your character depth and flesh out what makes him or her unique, interesting, and iconic. Slapping a big "GAY" sign above an existing character's head is insulting to the character and insulting to your audience.
At best it's patronizing. At worst, it's disingenuous. Maybe this is one of those "first steps" that doesn't land quite right, but inspires more steps like it down the road. Until then, if you want gay superheroes try Apollo and Midnighter. If you squint, it's basically Superman/Batman slashfic.