The marriage of X-Men hero Northstar to his boyfriend Kyle is set for this June 20. In Astonishing X-Men #50, published by Marvel Comics this Wednesday, the Canadian supersonic mutant Jean-Paul Beaubier, aka Northstar, will propose to Kyle Jinadu. Supersonic indeed! This will be the first same-sex wedding in the world of mainstream superhero comics.
The first same-sex marriage in comic land happened this January in Life with Archie #16, whenKevin Keller married Dr Clay Walker. The CEO of Archie Comics, Jon Goldwater, said of the marriage, “Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday”. The usual suspects kicked up against it, which is why Goldwater issued the statement, to which he added, “Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”
The trend toward visibility of same-sex couples has found a real footing in the world of comic books and games this year. The equal marriage debate has given it voice. The author of the Northstar story, Marjorie Liu, has described the storyline as “universal”, as “a powerful love between two people who have to fight for it against all odds.”
There is a vein of conservatism running through this newfound visibility, no doubt. If the equal rights debate is about marriage it’s about an institution, a tradition, and that stops people having to think about sex. I mean that as an observation, not a criticism. Nevertheless, that has not stopped the complaints from groups like the American Family Association, and its noxious subgroup, the 50,00 strong One Million Moms, who are obsessed with the idea of homosexual sex.
The objections of the American Family Association show how out of touch they are. The backlash against its whining, whether its about Ellen DeGeneres and JC Penney, the Archie Comics, or the X-Men, demonstrates the simple fact that they give homophobia the bad name it deserves.
The flaw in their logic, and the idea that children need to be protected from the image of loving homosexual couples, is that they approach the subject as adults and then make claims about how this affects children. If a child sees a man and woman kissing, they do not immediately think about what they do in bed. What they see is two people being affectionate. I don’t think even your average homophobe thinks about what a man and a woman do in bed whenever he or she sees a heterosexual couple together – which, let’s face it, is something you see on virtually every street corner. (That said, I make an exception for the really twisted ones, who probably do think about it.) Yet when it’s a same-sex couple they react as if the social fabric is under threat in a bid to cover up the basic fact that they simply don’t want to see it.
In all this jumping up and down, with its over-generalising and bullying, it seems that the only people behaving like children are the adults. Perhaps there will be a time when an idealised future will, as Jon Goldwater said, “will hopefully become reality someday”. If it does it will do so because of the visibility of diversity, and its acceptance as part of the world in which we live.