To a certain extent, gays and comics go hand in hand. Although many would solely associate it with the stereotypical, big bosom loving, nerd of the 1980s, comic books, their characters and their spin off movies and television shows do in fact have a large gay fan base.
Like with science fiction, comic books constantly reference homosexuality, with the X-Men analogy being written about extensively over the years. This may be one of the main reasons gay men find themselves becoming obsessed with comic books, as they are a place where the freaks are the powerful ones. In the same way, the school outsiders can associate with the outcast and tormented superheroes.
However, there is the undeniable and overt homo-erotic side to it too. All those bulging biceps and grappling men must have appealed to at least one gay man over the years, right? After all Batman itself has been the centre of many homosexual studies, being dubbed as ‘psychologically homosexual.’ But this is only the same as the amount of heterosexual men who read the comics for images of scantily clad women with massive breasts; but could this be another reason that the gays flock to comics?
Let’s look at it. The men in comics have muscles that could only be achieved in real life with the help of 15 years’ worth of steroid abuse, but they are clothed. The women on the other hand have figures that top models would be envious of, and boobs that would give any glamour model a run for her money. Add to this a T&A enhancing outfits and killer heels, and you can understand why feminists tend to have beef with comics.
But despite being viewed as sexual items both in and out of the comics, these are extremely strong women who, excuse my words, ‘own it.’ After all you wouldn’t mess with Wonder Woman would you?
Gay men have been shown to identify with strong women over the decades; you only have to look at the large gay following showbiz icons Madonna and Cher have to see this. So these strong and powerful comic book females are perhaps a large contributing factor to a gay man’s love of comics.
Let’s look at Batman. Three of the more prominent women in the series are Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, three very different characters, but three very strong and powerful characters at that.
My own fascination with Batman started as a child when I watched Batman Returns, which to this day is still one of my favourite films. But it wasn’t until Michelle Pfeiffer threw on a black PVC cat suit and turned into an absolute mentalist that I became hooked. I still get excited during the scene when she becomes Catwoman, and when I found out Selina Kyle was going to be in The Dark Knight Rises, it became one of my most eagerly anticipated films ever.
Maybe Anne Hathaway wasn’t as sexualised as Michelle or Halle Berry, or Uma Thurman when she played Poison Ivy, but the fact that she played a strong and powerful woman that could handle the Dark Knight, no doubt made a whole new generation fall in love with Miss Kyle.
From personal experience I would definitely say that strong women is a huge contributing factor to the love of comics amongst gay men; maybe not for everyone but definitely for a wide selection. The reason for this could be a number of things, but considering gay men are still viewed as weak by many people, in the same way that women are viewed as helpless sexualised objects by a fair few, they can associate with the annoying stereotypes bestowed upon us and them.
And whereas the nerds or outcasts can associate with Batman or Iron Man with the hope that they become Peter Parker, who triumphs over his bully, gay men can look at the delicate and overlooked Pamela Isley or Selina Kyle, who ended up giving the ‘men’ a run for their money, whilst wearing heels and looking good.