Saturday, February 16, 2013

Superman vs. the Homophobe


Illustration by The Daily Beast; Photo: Corbis
Superman vs. the Homophobe by Sujay Kumar  THE DAILY BEAST

DC Comics has hired an anti-gay crusader to write the franchise’s latest installment. Sujay Kumar on the outcry among fans—and Clark Kent’s surprisingly queer-friendly lifestyle.

For one panel in the history of comic books, Superman is really gay.

In 2003’s Supergirl #79, exposure to pink kryptonite turns the hero into a man of steel who likes men. “Did I ever tell you how smashing you look in bowties, Jimmy?” Superman gushes, his underwear bulge looming dangerously close to his pal’s face. “By the way, that's a fabulous window treatment you've put together.”

Just don’t bring this up with science-fiction authorOrson Scott Card, whom DC Comics has just hired to write the first two issues of the Adventures of Superman, the franchise’s latest series, due in April. Aside from being the brilliant mind behind the novel Ender’s Game, Card is a raging homophobe.

A devout Mormon and a board member of the National Organization of Marriage, Card has been quite prolific and aggressive in his anti-gay campaign, but his views are well summed up in this passage from a 2004 essay titled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization”:

“The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse.”

Yeah, he’s really not a fan. Not surprisingly, his selection has prompted calls for a boycott DC. The equality advocacy group All Out has led the war against Card, demanding that DC “sack homophobia” and fire the author. “Americans take their superheroes seriously,” says executive director Andre Banks. “And we didn’t want Orson Scott Card as the voice of Superman.”

In response, DC Comics released a statement touting freedom of expression and saying that the personal views of a writer are not those of the company. And in its defense, DC has been pretty gay-friendly lately. Green Lantern came out last year. Batwoman is “a lesbian socialite by night and a crime-fighter by later in the night." (Through his wife, Card declined to comment for this article.)

But for a publisher to work with an author who advocates for the exile of gays is clearly a bad idea. Right?! “Nobody was repressing his right to say anything,” says openly gay (and Mormon) author Andy Mangels, “But that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be consequences.” Paige Braddock, author of the lesbian-friendly comic strip “Jane’s World” believes there is no way Card’s personal views won’t seep into his storytelling. And it goes on.

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