Comic book culture hasn't always been the most accessible for Queer fans, but LGBTQ+ identifying superheroes have served as an inspiration for straight and queer audiences alike. That’s why we’re celebrating Pride Month by saluting a few of the LGBTQ+ heroes that make our community proud. This list is in no particular order, of course, as all these identities are equally valid.
Tim Drake was introduced in 1989 as the third kid to take up the “Robin” mantle after Jason Todd’s untimely demise (and murder by the fans). Second only to Batman himself, Tim quickly established himself as one of the sharpest detective minds in Gotham, solving Bruce Wayne’s true identity for himself at age 9. As he got a little older, he gave up the bright red and yellow Robin costume to Damien Wayne, and became Red Robin, continuing on his own path as all the protoge’s before him.
Historically speaking, Tim’s sexuality was never really discussed in canon. Many assumed he was strictly heteroseuxal due to his frequent relationships with Stephanie Brown, another member of the Bat-family. In DC’s Rebirth, however, Tim goes on a journey of self-discovery, and not only reclaims the Robin mantle, but also discovers that he’s bisexual. He then goes on to date an old friend of his, Bernard Dowd.
When his LGBT identity became canon in 2021, fans had mixed reactions. Many die-hard Batman fans were angry that new comic writers were changing old characters to fit some “woke LGBT agenda” rather than creating new queer characters instead. However, comic writers make alterations to the canon all the time, changing identities and even basic personality traits to fit current storylines (just ask Robin #2). More importantly, though, many superheroes, Robin included, represent something larger than just a simple character model. Robin is a cultural icon, and to have one of the characters that have taken up the mantle be bisexual is monumentally meaningful to queer fans.
Most well-known for her newest appearance in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, America Chavez is a Puerto Rican, reality-jumping badass. Coming from an all-female planet before landing in New York City, it’s no surprise that America also identifies as a lesbian. America has always been a fan favorite for her quirky personality and bubbly attitude, but it wasn’t until 2017 that she got her own solo series. Written by Gabby Rivera, a fellow queer Latina, this series marked the first lesbian-lead Marvel comic to date. In this series, she’s a college student dating a local EMT named Lisa Halloran, as opposed to some of her original storylines that have her in a relationship with Hawkeye protege, Kate Bishop.
It’s unclear how the MCU will be handling this aspect of her identity, due to Disney’s anti-LGBT stance on representation in the past, but so far they’ve at least hinted towards her sexuality by including the LGBT Progress flag on her denim jacket. Additionally, the Doctor Strange film showed her two moms in a flashback scene to her home reality. Though these are breadcrumbs in comparison to her loud-and-proud identity in the comics, for the MCU, it’s a welcome step forward.
Kate Kane first took up the Batwoman mantle in 2006, introduced in the New 52 as Bruce Wayne’s cousin on his mother’s side. Not only is she represented as a lesbian in both the comics and the animated series, but she is also of Jewish descent, which is a very needed representation of intersectionality. Since then, she’s been known as DC’s most prolific queer character to appear in their comic books, as has had her fair share of representation in modern media.
Like most LGBT superheroes, her identity was met with mixed reviews. Besides the usual homophobic fearmongering from male fans, some LGBT groups also criticized the way Kate was represented in the comics. Mostly, they had issue with the way DC advertised her, implying that she was more important than previous queer representation or somehow the first. Even still, it’s refreshing to many queer fans to see just how many of the superheroes that bear the Bat logo have something in common with them.
As an anti-hero, Deadpool is definitely the odd one out on the list, for more reasons than one. Between his crude humor, constant fourth-wall breaking, and inclination for violence, it’s debatable on whether or not he offers valuable representation to the pansexual community. However, in recent comics and movie adaptations, Deadpool has been represented in a much more positive light. Though his dark backstory and comedy haven’t been changed, he’s still a hero at heart. He’s a long time audience favorite, and though his sexuality causes some tension with his more “edgy” fans, his flirty personality leaves nobody out.
Deadpool’s sexuality has mostly been discussed around his relationship with Peter Parker’s Spider-Man (in his later years, of course), who he often teams up with, making plenty of romantic gestures and flirty jokes in the process. The “Spideypool” ship remains to be one of the most popular same-sex superhero couples in modern comic history.
Much like their namesake god in traditional folklore, Marvel’s Loki has always had a fluid relationship with gender and sexuality. In comics like Loki: Agent of Asgard, the character often switches between gender presentations and labels themself as bisexual.
However, according to most queer fans, the MCU really fumbled the ball on this one. When asking for confirmation of Loki’s identity within the franchise, fans were hopeful that the Loki series on Disney+ would offer them what they were looking for. Unfortunately, Loki’s biseuxality was hinted to with a throwaway line about their interests in “princes and princesses”, and their gender-fluidity was entirely ignored. In its stead, a female version of Loki from a different timeline, known as Sylvie, was introduced to the universe and shares an oddly uncomfortable romance with the titular protagonist.
Though often presenting as a man, which is how most fans view them, this shapeshifting god of mischief has always broken the boundary of the stereotypical “queer coded villain”, stepping into anti-hero roles and wearing their identity proudly. Still, modern interpretations of Loki, as well as most characters on this list, have a lot of work to do before queer fans can feel properly represented.
About the author: Myles is a 20-year-old English student, lifelong gamer, and ex-cowboy (in that order). When he's not binge watching Netflix shows or replaying Bioshock for the dozenth time, he's running the CBC Twitter page @comicbookcuriou.