So you may or may not have heard, but after years of speculation, the X-Men’s Iceman was outed by fellow telepath and teammate Jean Grey as being gay. This led to accusations of “bi-erasure” as Bobby Drake’s years of girlfriends suggest to many that he was actually bisexual, and not gay, and thus another example of bisexual erasure in pop culture. For those not familiar with the term, bi-erasure is essentially “the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or re-explain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists.”
While I agree with the All-New X-Men writer that Iceman’s relationships with women felt more like someone trying to pass as straight than someone who was really bi, there’s no denying that bisexuals are even less represented in mainstream comics than gays and lesbians (as is often said, the “B” in LGBT is often silent.) Especially when it comes to bi men. Women have it somewhat better, as bisexual women are titillating to the mostly male readership – Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are all pretty much confirmed as bi, for example, and there was little fanfare with those reveals.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of getting rid of Bi-erasure, here are eight comics characters that I personally think making bisexual officially would explain a lot, and give comics some more bi characters in the spotlight.
1. Tim Drake (Red Robin, Robin III)
People just love to make the gay Batman and Robin jokes (I know, I’ve made them myself.) but I don’t actually think that any of the four male Robins are actually gay. Dick Grayson, despite being born with the perfect name to have if one’s a gay male, has always been about the womens, like Batgirl and Starfire. Jason Todd, Robin II, seemingly the same, and Damian is ten years old, so all speculation on him is tabled (for now.)
But then there’s Tim Drake, the middle Robin, or currently “Red Robin.” He’s had a lot of relationships with women, like the super heroine Spoiler, and they feel genuine and not like he’s trying to cover something up (like Iceman’s always did) Having said that, the pre-New 52 Tim Drake also had a very, shall we say, intense friendship with Superboy Conner Kent, so much so that he obsessively tried several attempts at bringing him back to life when he died in Infinite Crisis. He was more obsessed with it than Superboy’s own girlfriend Wonder Girl. I don’t know, but that looks like love to me.
2. Wonder Woman
This one is so obvious it hurts. Now, there are those that say Wonder Woman must be a full-on lesbian, because the Amazons have been established (in modern times anyway) as being predominantly lesbians. But as for Diana herself, her romantic entanglements of the past seventy-five years seem to negate that notion. She spent much of that time pining for Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, and recently she’s had things going with both Superman and Batman. Clearly, she likes Alpha Males.
But since she grew up on an island made exclusively of women, and never even having seen a man until adulthood, it stands to reason her first sexual leanings would have been towards women. Where she falls on the sexual spectrum is debatable, but she almost certainly can’t be opposed to some same-sex love. It would seem absurd.
I’m gonna admit, I have no real evidence that the Gambit is bisexual. It just kind of feels like he should be, you know? As a character, he kind of represents Southern decadence, and everything he does has a sexy swagger to it. He’s definitely into women, but you know he’d probably be down for some man on man love if the mood hit him, and just the right amount of bourbon. He’d probably keep that side of himself pretty DL, just kind of teasing it a little without every fully committing to being ni, which is kind of annoying, but that’s how I see it.
Actually, you know who he really sounds like? The actor who’s about to play him, Channing Tatum. No wonder Channing is such a big Gambit fan.
4. The Joker
This one’s tricky, because Joker is mostly written as being beyond human, like a force of nature, and therefore beyond conventions of normal human sexuility. In some ways he comes off as asexual, and then in other ways he’s almost omnisexual. Clearly, based on his relationship with Harley Quinn that seemingly never ends, and his jealousy whenever she seems interested in anyone else, he’s not all gay.
But Joker’s obsession with Batman has always seemed sexual too. Frank Miller played him up almost as an aging queen, whose life was without meaning without his (Bat)man. But even recent incarnations of the Joker seem like a man in love…albeit a very sick, sick love. In Scott Snyder’s recent “Death of the Family,” the Joker’s whole scheme was to make Batman appreciate “everything he does for him.” And when that didn’t work, and Batman showed how much more important his family was to him than the Joker, his revenge that followed seemed like a lover scorned more than anything else.
Much like Iceman, X-Woman Storm’s sexuality has been debated for eons, although most fans think she falls on the bisexual spectrum more than closeted gay like Iceman. She’s had long ongoing relationships with characters like Forge, Bishop, and was even married to Black Panther for a long time.
But then there was a lot of lesbian subtext Chris Claremont wrote into her relationship with the Japanese Yukio back in the ’80s, around the time Storm went punk and was rocking her mohawk/leather jacket look. Could this be when she was experimenting with other sides to her personality as well? Only Chris Claremont can really answer this question, and I don’t think he ever has.
6. Booster Gold
The bromance to end all bromances in comics, and I don’t even like that word. An unlikely pair, both Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were characters with recently canceled series that wound up in the pages of Justice League International, in the late ’80s, and quickly became the book’s stars, becoming inseparable and getting into all kinds of trouble together. Both were clearly written as giant pussy hounds, constantly referring to this woman and that woman in sexually suggestive ways, so I’d hesitate to call either of them gay.
Having said that, when Blue Beetle died in the Infinite Crisis, Booster got a little…unhinged. Most of his series was spent trying to alter time to prevent the death of Beetle, because he felt like a half a man without him. I don’t know, sounds like more than “best friend” love to me. Besides, Booster is from the 25th Century. I’d like to believe that in the future sexuality is maybe more fluid? I mean, I need some reason to look forward to the future.
7. Brainiac 5
Speaking of the future, the 31st Century’s Legion of Super-Heroes has been a pretty LGBT-friendly team for much of their existence, with gay and lesbian members like Element Lad, Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass among their membership. But in one of their more recent reboots (I can’t remember if it was the ’90s one of the 2000’s one. There have been so many damn Legion reboots) it was suggested that Brainy was involved with fellow genius member Invisible Kid, Lyle Norg.
It makes sense, as they’re both geniuses and they’re both hot, why not? Brainiac 5 was certainly very into Supergirl for much of his publishing history, so he’s not all gay, but that kiss he planted on Invisible Kid after not seeing him for a long time is pretty telling if you ask me.
Rampage was basically DC’s She-Hulk/Hulk analogue, a brilliant (yet) reserved scientist named Kitty Faulkner who had a lab accident that turned her into a giant monster, just yellow and not green. And with a mohawk. Not as out of control as the Hulk, or as under control as She-Hulk, DC’s version landed somewhere in the middle. Of course, when she was in Rampage mode, she was a lot more uninhibited and flirtatious, even developing a thing for Superman villain the Parasite.
Maybe it was the fact that she looked like a butch bodybuilder, (yes, even more than She-Hulk, who still somehow stayed femme) but I always had a hard time buying that Dr. Faulkner was just about the D. Sadly, rumor has it that DC’s Geoff Johns hates the character, and has since banished her into the cornfield. But if she ever returns, I think she needs to admit to liking the D and the V.
Previously by Eric Diaz: