Everyone’s a little bit…homophobic?

13 Aug

In light of the Dan Cathy brouhaha , this real-life episode seemed timely.

You may or may not know that my husband is a pretty invested comic fan (see how I didn’t use the word geek? I’m progressing). Still, when he came into the kitchen looking ready to write a country song one night, I wasn’t expecting the tragedy to be comic in nature (heh.).

DC is revamping a bunch of their old characters, as comic universes are wont to do periodically, he explains. Among these characters is one of P’s especial favorites—an incarnation of the Green Lantern—but they are redrawing him as a homosexual.

I manage to quell my first reaction, which is regrettably, uh….so? My second reaction is to look around the kitchen wildly for a soapbox to stand atop while I break out my intolerance speech. But he had obviously come for a good-natured whining sesh between spouses, not to be lectured or judged. So instead I asked him to go on.

Let me interject here that P is not at all of the anti-gay camp. He’s not an evangelical Christian, he has many gay coworkers he counts as friends, and he’s performed in a benefit for an organization that assists LGBT youth. “I’ll Cover You” from RENT played at our wedding ceremony, for crying out loud. So the benefit of the doubt was in order.

He couldn’t fathom the concept of this guy, his particular favorite, being changed so drastically, he explained. I ventured a statement that I hoped wasn’t too preachy: that I thought it was nice that homosexual fans of the series, especially young ones, would have someone to identify with. His rejoinder was that they’d never make Superman or Spiderman gay. Then I couldn’t help asking rather pointedly if he thought gay people couldn’t be heroic, or at any rate not super-ly so. He said that no, he didn’t think that, but in that case they should have invented a new hero to be gay. In his previous incarnation, this guy had a daughter who turned into a cool hero in her own right. Now all of that would be thrown out the window. I countered that could he not still have children through adoption or surrogacy? His face made it clear that I was not quite, as the expression goes, getting it.

In the end I left off haranguing him because his problem was with the violation of a beloved character and not with the place of homosexuality in superheroism.  I wonder too if I can’t sympathize, not being a geek fan myself. I tried to imagine how I would feel if Disney decided to re-release The Little Mermaid with a lesbian Ariel, and I have to admit, the thought was pretty weird. I wondered if such a feeling could have obscure roots in prejudice—perhaps so deeply entrenched it’s difficult to identify. I might have asked P how he would feel if the character was redrawn in a different but equally drastic way, like as black man or a Hasidic Jew, but I didn’t think of it. It seemed like too big a discussion for that night at any rate. Momentous concepts like this have to be tackled in pieces. But they do have to be tackled, right? I mean, one day I’ll be having a similar conversation with my child. Or maybe we should just accept, like the Avenue Q song urges us to do about racism, our marginal homophobia as the first step to moving past it? Or maybe there’s no momentous concept at all. I mean, we are talking about fictional characters here. Who are apparently going to be redrawn again in twenty years anyway (??).

What do you think? I tend to be overly macro in my thinking. Am I trying to make a teaching experience where there is none? And I’d also love to hear from other DC fans out there: what do YOU think of the Green Lantern’s reimagining as a gay man?

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