How Do You Like To Take Your Gay Bashing?

As you all know, I am an X-Men fan. Partly this is out of habit; partly, I like to use the franchise as a touch-stone for how good and bad the superhero genre can get. I also tend to like the fans, who create discussion threads such as, “Are Clones Real Characters?” X-Men comics and fans are simply the ones I know the best. Typically, my tone is sarcastic when discussing the book; almost never is it angry. But I’m pissed off right now.

One comic book character I really did like (as you can see in previous posts) is Dazzler. I just think they made up a great little gal when they created that girl. One doesn’t usually like comic characters, but you can’t help but like Alison. In honor of her return to the X-Men book, and as a favor to my friend Ben, who is the biggest Dazzler fan on the planet, I’d written up a post about the Dazzler comic and female ordinariness. I was especially fascinated with one issue from her 1980s solo series, which was an issue dedicated to Dazzler’s experience of terrible pick-up lines and come-ons. All I needed was preview art from issue #501 to break so that I could headline the essay with a picture of an updated Alison Blaire blasting the reader with rainbows. Instead, I log onto the net and get punched in the gut.

When I read Uncanny X-Men #500 and saw the Hellfire Cult converge on Pixie (if you don’t know her, she’s literally a superhero fairy) and her gay friend after a Dazzler concert, I felt a low grumbling in my stomach. They certainly wouldn’t get gay-bashed, would they? In interviews for CBR, Marvel announced that Dazzler would return to comics in issue #501. I was certain that Dazzler would step out of the concert venue and dazzle the shit out of the Hellfire homophobes.

I was mistaken.

Previews for issue #501 show the following:

Enlarge This Shit

A boot to the face and a baton to the head. Srsly, Land? You did not just trace a prostitute orgasming to represent a 15 yr old girl in the middle of a hate crime! Later in the issue, out Vietnamese lesbian, Karma (Xi’an Coy Manh), is targeted by the same thugs after they’ve already had their way with Pixie and her nameless queer buddy. Dazzler does not show up to protect her gay following.

Instead of diva fabulousness, we get dead lesbians walking and a ridiculous new hormonal BDSM super-villainess, The Red Queen, whose career is certain to end at menopause. It’s enough to make me want to seek out acclaimed writer Matt Fraction and forcibly shave off his straight-boy hipster soul patch. Not even my reviled enemy, CC, would pull such a bald-faced stunt! He’d at least try to veil it in a “deep” allegory. In the meantime, we have Cyclops and Emma in bed in three different comics in a month, literally, trying to reproduce for the sake of “the mutant species.” Suck it, Fraction, you fagmo. I can already see Marvel now backpedaling to tell us that the bashed kid wasn’t gay — he just happens to be a teen into Disco.

And I can hear the little pests demanding answers to the following bullshit questions:

  • How do u know he’s gay? Rn’t you just stereotyping urself?
  • So, gays in superhero comics should be exempted from getting hurt?
  • Don’t you think the author is trying to make a point?
  • Why should writers censor ugly realities?
Gay bashings are a fact of life, non? Ergo, we must have them in our super-hero comics! Many of them! We all know that the struggles of gays and lesbians to walk down the street are a rich mine for metaphor. And because we must have some, how do you prefer to take your gay bashings?

Freedom Ring Enjoys His Bashings with a Side of Penetration

  • A) Dignified Bashings: Alfred the Butler (Batman) – takes his many bashings with dignity.
  • B) Current Events Bashings: Abu Graib style torture for the Young Avengers/Runaways gays/lesbians (all four queer characters (only those four) — two couples, Lucy in the Sky & Xavin, Wiccan & Hulkling — were tortured together in a crossover issue. One big GLBT Family).
  • C) Bolt from the Blue Bashing: Connor Hawke – this Eurasion faggot takes his bashings with a laser beam from space (also see Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
  • D) Our Heroes Fight for Tolerance: Karma + Pixie & her gay Dazzler fan friend will overcome!
  • E) The Buttplug Incident – Freedom Ring killed by penetration from a dozen angry buttplugs.
  • F) Gays Make Good Zombie – Northstar, the most famous gay superhero, killed by Wolverine and turned into an evil Ninja Zombie (also see the new X-Files movie with the gay-married zombie serial killing couple)
  • G) After School Special Bashing: Terry Berg in Green Lantern – “Gay Bashing is Bad! OMG!”
  • H) Don’t Worry It Will Grow Back: Anole loses arm – emo gay teen suicide kid loses arm, but that’s ok. He’s a mutant lizard. Those things grow back.
  • I) Don’t Let Your Friends Drink and Drive: Mariko Yashida killed by Mimic on a drug/mind control binge.
  • J) With Cream

The openly gay Northstar has recently been killed in three “alternate reality” comic book universes — twice in once month — (“Age of Apocalypse”; the Enemy of the State story in the main comics; “Ultimate Universe” steroid overdose). When editorial prevented a writer from giving Northstar AIDS, he was once transformed into a fairy dying of fairy diseases until his religious sister saved him with light. Honey Lemon of Big Hero 6 once pulled an alternate reality Sunpyre out of her power purse and they became lovers, yet where is Sunpyre these days?! A couple of years back, Karma and her coffee shop love interest were written out of New X-Men/Academy X, apparently because teen readers didn’t need to see an ongoing lesbian relationship. In a recent summer event, Phyla-Vell was widowed when her girlfriend, Moondragon, was killed (a couple of issues after her ear was cut off).

I don’t really think this is a Women in Refrigerators thing. In most cases, Death by Butt-Plug is not about making nearby straight male protagonists seem emotionally deeper. Something else is at work in these killings. It seems to me to be a more overdetermined phenomenon than that. Gays and lesbians seem to represent the very concept of victimhood.

Alas, in protest, Ben has deleted his fabulous Dazzler blog. It’s a shame. I was highly anticipating his entry about Dazzler being called a “queer lover” in Uncanny X-Men #505.




8 Responses to “How Do You Like To Take Your Gay Bashing?”

  1. Tucker Stone Says:

    He deleted the Dazzler thing? That’s a shame.

  2. Brian Says:

    Did you ever read Choice of Evils? Also, From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain has an Alison Blair shout-out…. also, to throw out an argument you haven’t pre-empted, aren’t all superhero comicbooks about gaybashing? The point of the genre is to have muscular guys in tights beating each other up in order to displace their desire to beat each other off …

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    Hey Brian, I haven’t read Choice of Evils. I’ll look at it. I tried to read Brain but it was too much self-help speak. Even as a parody it became irritating. As for your other point: I don’t care if straight characters get beat up in comics. Fuck them. Superhero comics are a straight-male fantasy of omnipotence and invulnerability. Gay bashing in them, though, is just a cheap attack on “weaker” characters.

  4. Brian Says:

    There are a couple different phenomena I’m thinking of. When a gay hero or civilian gets beat up, that’s one thing. But what about the hero triumphantly pummeling a deviant villain? What’s coming to my mind is Mickey Spillane, and there’s nothing as blatant as that that I can think of in comics. …If I follow you, you’re pissed off by comics exploiting violence against a vulnerable group for prurient thrills and to indulge creators’ thinly veiled prejudice. I’m suggesting you think about a history of comics endorsing gaybashing as another facet of their endless morality play of good stomping evil.You know this stuff much better than I do, so I’d like to hear your take. I haven’t seen the new Batman movie yet, but I understand the new joker is a bit fey … hardly an unorthodox choice. … And of course it’s hard to pull out villains who are particularly queer, because the whole set up of superhero comics (closets, costumes, male anatomy as spectacle, etc., etc.) is so queer. I’m not talking about straight guys getting beat up. I’m talking about heroes as “straight guys” who have to prove their straightness by violence. Not just the simple equation of homophobia=closet case, but just the anxiety of the straight man insecure in his role (as opposed to identity). And now I’m thinking about Frank Miller, and some of the gaybashing in his Daredevil work — you know, DD pounding creepy leatherboys? I wonder how much of the change in comics in the 80s — violence and irony — comes from a new self-consciousness about the queerness of the genre and a need to exorcise that through violence. (And showing the occasional breast, too — but gore’s much more effective at washing off taint.) Completely off-topic: Have you read Queen and Country? Been getting into that lately.

  5. darknessatnoon Says:

    The gay villain thing was more for when gayness was shrouded in taboo and could only be hinted at.I guess Frank Miller has his leather boy moments, but he’s pretty far afield of what I’m talking about. I’m unopinionated about his work. I remember reading Sin City in high school and marveling at the graphic design of it all. I also remember reading his letters pages where he would rant on and on about the 1st Amendment. That icked me out. People who aren’t lawyers who discuss the 1st Amendment are literally one step away from proselytizing to me about the NRA and gun rights. No thanks, fanatics. One thing I can say for Miller: he doesn’t bullshit with fashionable liberalism. Which is what the Pixie gaybashing story does. It relies on Liberalism’s metonymy. So when Matt Fraction writes a story about Africa in Invincible Iron Man, he has to discuss war-torn, impoverished, Africa. Short-hand for the dark continent. The X-Men moved to San Francisco last issue, so we have to think SF = Gay. Gay = Gay bashing! Ta Da!I thought the Batman movie was well done, but pompous. A certain “philosophical” component was aimed at 8 yr olds who like to discuss Good and Evil. Characters kept blathering about their motivations, their hero worship, etc. It’s still worth seeing even though they could have cut out about an hour. Sure the Joker dressed in drag, but I thought he was incredibly compelling. I had no problem with his representation.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I think the Green Arrow should be the gay basher. It makes sense because he's very masculine and strong and handsome…all the things gay's want in a man but don't have in themselves. Then, when they meet this "dreamman/basher/superhero" he beats the fucking shit out of them. LOL. What a double edged sword that would be. Most of the gays would probably like being bashed by him though…LOL>

  7. Anonymous Says:

    You forgot the raping of the openly gay, supposedly “invincible” Apollo (i.e. Superman) in the Authority. I don’t believe any other characters in the Wildstorm universe were ever subjected to being raped. I guess he was asking for it since he was gay and they wanted to make his rage-prone boyfriend Midnighter (i.e. Batman) really mad…

  8. darknessatnoon Says:

    You’re right. I completely forgot that one. Of course, the rapist was then counter-raped with a large drill if I remember correctly (a message to anyone who demonstrates even a hint of homosexual desire, even if it’s sadistic).

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