Oh my Stars and Garters! West Valley Explores LGBTs and Themes in Comic Books

By Avi Vieira

With this week’s icebreaking question for West Valley one•n•ten being “What super power do you wish you had?” the theme was set for a night introducing LGBT characters and themes in comic books that went from the golden age of comics and the first appearances of Superman and Batman through to the modern craze for Japanese manga.

With the group discussion lead by Wonder Twins and volunteers extraordinaire Bryan English and Avi Vieira,  the evening began with the concept of comic books and super heroes being modern mythology where the heroes trials and tribulations, virtues and morality are just as necessary today as in ancient times. The discussion quickly moved to the early days of comic books through to the silver age of the 1950’s and the censorship of the Comics Code Authority and its restrictions banning any depictions of homosexuality that essentially  lasted until the mid 1990’s. Until that time, writers had to be creative in their stories and characters – such as focusing on common themes of bullying in school, alienation from peers, secrets from family members (Spider-Man); possessing inborn traits that make one different from everyone else, persecution for those traits (The X-Men) that were and are so personally familiar to our youth today.Findet Nemo-Combo Banner

The group explored LGBT characters such as Batwoman, Wanda (Sandman), Rainmaker (Gen13), the relationships of Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulking, and the controversies and protests in recent times over The X-Men’s Northstar (and his recent wedding), Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller, and the “new” Green Lantern Alan Scott. The evening ended with a brief discussion of Japanese manga with LGBT themes such as Ranma ½, and all age appropriate yaoi (boy love) and yuri (girl love) titles.
The discussion allowed the youth to see that the superheroes that appeal to everyone also are becoming much more diverse and supportive in adding LGBTs to the modern pantheon of heroes who will go on to inspire new generations.