Marvel’s Wedding For Gay Superhero Sends Strong Message To Young Readers

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Picture 1Talk about a fast-moving social evolution. This month, same-sex marriage has been endorsed by the President of the United States, embraced by the NAACP as a civil liberty, and now, it’s taking on the world of tough crime-fighting and mega-muscles. That’s right, Marvel announced that it will celebrate it’s first same-sex wedding in the pages of Astonishing X-Men.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the superhero Northstar, let me give you a bit of backround. This mutant member of the X-Men was introduced in 1979 as a member of super team Alpha Flight. He has the ability to fly, super speed and can manipulate light. In 1992, Northstar became one of the first superheros to identify as gay in a comic book. Lately, he’s been associated with the X-Men and he’s had various storylines that include his sexuality, from an unrequited crush on another team member to mentoring another young homosexual mutant.

Now, this superhero has actually proposed to his boyfriend Kyle in Astonishing X-Men #50, with a full wedding scheduled to take place in the next installment.

So why is this such big news? Well, let’s think about the types of characters we normally associate with superheroes. There’s a lot of testosterone and strong muscle men floating through the air, right? Young boys look up to superheroes because they’re brave and tough. It’s a fictionalized world with lots of good vs. evil and the hero saving the day.

That culture of super-strength and ultimate good has a huge place in our society. Hello Avengers and your third weekend in a row of box office dominance. Incorporating a homosexual character and his marriage into the world of superheroes does an enormous amount to break down stereotypes and prejudices. Think of all young boys who see effeminate caricatures of gay men as the only example of homosexuality presented to them when they’re growing up. And think of how a gay superhero married to his partner breaks down those stereotypes.

Whether we realize it or not, the world of comics has been consistently ahead of the curve when it comes to social movements. The very presence of a gay superhero in 1992 was a huge deal. And while there aren’t as many mainstream female superheroes, there are still a lot of strong and powerful women for young girls to admire. There’s also an extremely supportive and involved community of women who enjoy comics and create stories with a little feminist flair.

I have to admit, my daughter loves comics. She enjoys anything superhero-themed. We spend a lot of time with the X-Men and the Justice League. And I’m excited for her to see heroes of all gender, race and sexual orientation portrayed positively and with depth. I think that it sends an important message for young children about strength and the various forms it can take.

So congratulations on your upcoming nuptials to Northstar and Kyle. We can’t wait to read all about it.

(Photo: Arizona Daily Star)