Superman is gay?
he’s different? Or maybe it’s just his rippling muscles and all that
A pop culture expert at Calgary’s Mount Royal College says the lead
character in the new Superman movie is receiving a lot of attention
in the gay community and is rapidly gaining stature as a gay icon.
The reason for that is probably a mix of the superhero’s closet life,
his standing apart from the community and his looks, according to Lee
Easton, who is researching what he sees as the Superman gay
phenomenon in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.
Easton is hoping to better understand how all men – gay or straight –
shape their identities in relation to popular pop-culture icons such
Considering that DC Comics is bringing back Batwoman as a lesbian,
should it really be a surprise that Superman has attracted the
admiring gaze of the gay community? That’s been the case for years,
“There’s this sort of double moment that these are not only figures
that you can identify with but also sort of desire at the same time.
Particularly in adolescents and older gay men like myself, often
times those male figures would be the most easily accessible sort of
Even the American version of the television series Queer as Folk,
filmed largely in Toronto, carries a recurring superhero theme. Two
characters create a sexually explicit underground comic called Rage
that features a Gay Crusader superhero.
Despite the metrosexual appearance of the new Superman and the fact
that Bryan Singer, the director of Superman Returns is gay, the real
homosexual icon in the superhero world has been Batman and his
erstwhile and sometimes sexually ambiguous sidekick Robin.
Ironically, even though Batwoman is coming back as a lesbian, she was
introduced in the 1950s as a way to quell rumours about the true
nature of the dynamic duo’s partnership.
“In Batman, in particular, in the movie last year, there’s a great
deal of attention paid to the way he crafts his very own leather
costume and I think both leather and Spandex have a long tradition in
gay culture,” muses Easton, 42.
“There’s some easy moments of identification for sure.”
Stephen Lock of Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere is
participating in the study. The Calgary-based spokesman suggests
comic book superheroes don’t really have any kind of sexual
orientation since they’re only pictures on paper. But he acknowledges
there always appears to be some subtext going on in many of the
“I think the generation of gay men that grew up on Superman and a
few of the other comic superheroes probably read a lot of stuff into
it that they recognized _ the whole double-life situation and running
into `closet-like’ spaces,” Lock says.
“A young gay male, when the hormones start kicking in and all his
friends are noticing girls . . . he’s noticing guys. There’s this
double fantasy thing going on where he says if I could be that, I
could have that.”
Lock favours the dark and forbidden current Batman character as
opposed to the campy 1960s version played by Adam West in the TV
series. That character was almost enough to turn a gay man straight,
“The saving grace there was that Robin was kind of cute.”
Officials with DC Comics, which owns the Superman franchise, were
unavailable for comment on the study. But president and publisher
Paul Levitz has been quoted in the past as saying the Man of Steel is
Early results of Easton’s research are expected to be ready for a
cultural studies conference in Edmonton this fall.