In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments. In light of Marvel’s Big Gay Wedding, and DC’s announcement that Alan Scott is gay, many people are discussing how to add diversity to mainstream superhero comics. Josh Flanagan of iFanboy summarized the problem on Twitter:
“Some people: Comics should have more diversity. Other people: Don’t change anything EVER. Difficulty: New characters don’t sell to anyone.”
But we here at Fantastic Fangirls are not opposed to changing characters from time to time. And here is who we would change from their current heterosexual-presumed state to a queer character.
Who would you queer?
I’m having a lot of difficulty with this question. The simple answer is Anya (and Rikki), like I said here, and frankly I get sad and/or angry when I realize I’m not going to get my ABC Family Movie about Anya’s coming out. It’s a really good pitch and an answer I’m proud of.
The less simple answer starts with my desire to slap the “Other people” listed in the tweet-quote and moves on to my refusal of the conceit in the “Difficulty”. New characters do sell, every time a new television series or book series or film series premieres. Television is the best analogy because it is serial and crosses genres, and if we treated our comics the way we treat our TV — with seasons and shelf lives and remakes and reboots and adaptations and new blood every year — the industry would be better for it. If all sides let go of the way it should be and moved on to the way it could be then any character, new or old, could be queer, and diverse, and free.
So I’m sad and angry and I can’t answer the question because it doesn’t matter what I say, the ones who get to make the decisions cater to those Other people. And we let them.
The quote from Josh Flanagan brings home that there are at least two ways of looking at this question, and they don’t necessarily go together.
We deal in hypotheticals a lot in our Q&A’s, and the approach I usually take is to think about the way that these fictional universes look inside of my head. I want Rikki Barnes and Anya Corazon to be adorable teenage lesbian girlfriends. I want Bobby Drake to finally wake up and figure out what was going on with him and Northstar. (Remember how Northstar used to get sad because he loved Bobby, but Bobby was SOOOOO straight? Please, Drake, that was a hint!) I want those rumors about Tony Stark and Henry Hellrung from back in the day to turn out to have some truth behind them.
I like all those answers because they’re connected to stories I want to read about particular characters. Those answers are totally personal to me. They’ve got nothing to do with the politics of representation, and they certainly don’t put me in the position of playing “fantasy business model” with someone else’s money. The characters I would choose to represent as queer if I were a person in a creative position at a major comic book company would be influenced by a lot of other factors than what I personally feel like reading. I know that I would want to tell stories that were commercially successful and would make money for the company. I also hope that I’d be influenced by wanting to give queer readers the opportunity to read about people like themselves in their comics. I would also want stories about those characters to be read by people who aren’t queer, including people who have never given much thought to the experiences and perspectives of queer people until they read that comic.
I don’t pretend to know DC Comics’ motivation in portraying Alan Scott in Earth 2 as a queer character. I don’t know how much the motivation matters. The character has been established now; the opportunity exists to tell stories with him. How that opportunity is used, and what it means for the future, remains to be seen.
Jennifer is on vacation this week.
I think any character in comics could be queer.
I think this because I know dozens of real-life coming out stories. Because I read Savage Love. Because humans are complicated. Because actual life is always stranger than fiction.
Name a character, and and I’ll tell you how they come out.
Anybody. Any character you love, they’re queer.
So what about you? Who would you queer?