Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Love is for Everyone: Oni Press to Donate Valentine Proceeds to the True Colors Fund

Up to 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year in America, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless youth communities make up 40% of that statistic. This Valentine’s Day, Oni Press, Sarah Graley, and fans of Kim Reaper, will be donating to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund as Oni’s 20th Anniversary winter season charity, which was chosen by Executive Editor Ari Yarwood.

Beginning today, the Oni Press Shopify store will have exclusive digital Kim Reaper valentines illustrated by creator Sarah Graley. This sheet of four adorable love notes are available for only $1, with the option for additional donation. All proceeds go to the True Colors Fund via Oni Press.

The True Colors Fund is working to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth by creating systemic change. The organization uses a broad continuum of advocacy, training & education, and youth collaboration programs.

GLAAD Media Award Nominees Have Been Announced

The GLAAD Media Awards nominees have been announced, which includes a category for comic books. The awards “recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives.”

The awards tend to recognize “mainstream” representation, so you’ll rarely see indie comics on the list.

Below are the nominees for comics, and comic related other media. You can find the full list at their site.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women from Annapurna Pictures was nominated for “Outstanding Film – Wide Release.” The film is a loose history of the creation of Wonder Woman.

Wynonna Earp, which is based on a comic series, was nominated for “Outstanding Drama Series.”

Legion‘s episode “Chapter 8” was nominated for “Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBTQ character).”

For comics, the nominees are:

America, by Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, Ming Doyle, Stacey Lee, Ramon Villalobos, Walden Wong, Jen Bartel, Annie Wu, Aud Koch, Flaviano, Joe Rivera, Paolo Rivera, José Villarrubia, Jordan Gibson, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, Rachelle Rosenberg, Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics)

The Backstagers, by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh, Walter Baiamonte, Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)

Batwoman, by Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV, Steve Epting, Jeromy N. Cox, Stephanie Hans, Renato Arlem, Adriano Honorato Lucas, Fernando Blanco, John Rauch, Deron Bennett (DC Comics)

Black Panther: World of Wakanda, by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Rembert Browne, Alitha E. Martinez, Manny Mederos, Joe Bennett, Afua Richardson, Roberto Poggi, Tamra Bonvillain, Rachelle Rosenberg, Virtual Calligraphy, Joe Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, by Sarah Vaughn, Lan Medina, Phillip Hester, José Villarrubia, Janice Chiang (DC Comics)

Goldie Vance, by Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Brittney Williams, Noah Hayes, Sarah Stern, Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)

Iceman, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Ibraim Roberson, Edgar Salazar, Edgar E. Tadeo, Robert Gill, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Lumberjanes, by Kat Leyh, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese (BOOM! Studios)

Quantum Teens are Go, by Magdalene Visaggio, Eryk Donovan, Claudia Aguirre, Zakk Saam (Black Mask Studios)

The Woods, by James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas, Ed Dukeshire (BOOM! Studios)

Why I Won’t Miss Marvel’s Iceman Comic

I have had such a love/hate relationship with Sina Grace‘s Iceman run over its nine issues, but issue nine tipped the scales from “Hey, this is a fun book. I’m feeling it” to “Daken is hot, and it’s nice to see Northstar and his husband, but wow, this is bad.” After spending the five issues having Bobby summon up his courage to come out as gay to his parents via letter, Grace and new series artist Robert Gill have had him let down his hair and relax in the four issues of the “Legacy” era. While having a reunion with his old Champions teammates, Bobby met a cute boy named Judah Miller in L.A. and was thinking about leaving the X-Men and moving to Southern California. This was really a big step for him as a character, and it seemed like Iceman was starting to explore his sexuality more for the first time since he came out in November 2015’s Uncanny X-Men #600.

But that didn’t happen. In Iceman #9, Gill continued to bring the beefcake, and it looked like he and Sina Grace were turning in yet another fun issue with Bobby introducing Judah to his X-Men family and a fight against the mutant-phobic (And probably homophobic) Purifiers while setting up Daken and his edgelord acolyte Amp as the main villain. A throwaway line about the gay former X-Force/X-Factor member Rictor breaking up with his longtime partner Shatterstar should have foreshadowed that events were going to take a turn for the sinister. This is when Daken stabs Judah and makes a joke about fridges, and the plot reason is basically to make Iceman angry and use more of his potential powers.

It’s the “bury your gays” trope in a comic that up to this point has seemed to be about finding your own unique identity even when people hate and criticize you like Bobby’s parents about his life as an X-Man and a gay man.

This trope is even more disappointing coming from Sina Grace, who is a gay man himself, and has written insightful graphic memoirs like Self-Obsessed Nothing Lasts Forever , and even Not My Bag is a humorous, relatable look at balancing an artistic career with a dead end retail job.

Instead of mining the potential of Iceman moving three time zones away from the X-Men and beginning his first romantic relationship with a man, Grace and Gill go for cheap drama and stale story elements. They don’t make an attempt to add Judah Miller to the great stable of “civilian” X-Men supporting characters, like Moira MacTaggert or Stevie Hunter, and just kill him off to further Iceman’s story and make Daken a “more evil” villain.

Also, changing Daken from a seductive manipulator who kisses Judah right in front of Bobby into a remorseless killer makes him much less interesting character. Sure, his powers might have an upgrade, and he might have a new look thanks to the Apocalypse death seed inside him, but the whole sexy bad boy thing goes away. After Daken kisses Judah, there’s a great opportunity for Bobby and Judah to have a talk about their difference in sexual experience, but I guess that’s too mature for a Marvel comic and takes time away from edgy jokes, fight scenes, and mind control drama.

In a very later seasons of The Walking Dead way, killing off Judah does up the stakes of Iceman and finally gives the book a real Big Bad after going more of a villain/antagonist of the week route ranging from Purifiers to Juggernaut and weirdly and slightly more sympathetically, a woman trying to make it in Hollywood by jerry-rigging her own Sentinels. However, Sina Grace falls into the trap of writing gay men as wholesome Modern Family/Will and Grace types, who enjoy fashion and brunching and bisexual men (Really man because Daken is the only bi character in Iceman.) as sexually predatory and villains.

We’re good for fun sexy times and intense flirtation, but definitely aren’t someone to bring home to the X-Men or parents.

I’m not saying that Grace really thinks bisexual men are sociopaths, but it’s a little sad that gay characters, like Bobby, and to a lesser extent after this issue, Judah, can be fully fleshed out human beings with desires, interests, and neuroses while a bisexual character gets coded as the bad guy, who, oops, makes funnier jokes than the good guys. Daken going completely off the rails without having a solid villain motivation beyond his “edgy” bisexual coding is a regressive, boring throwback to the queer coding of Disney villains and using society’s implicit biphobia to make them seem both evil and seductive. It’s up there with connecting Deadpool’s pansexuality to mental illness.

Daken doesn’t have to be a cuddly, Drag Race watching superhero with a strict, no kill policy, but he has to have a stronger character motivation beyond adolescent nihilism or “for the evils”. For example, Steve Orlando wrote the gay anti-hero Midnighter as a murderer, but he killed those who exploited others like he was exploited by the men who experimented on him and implanted his brain with technology to see the outcome of every fight. This is much more fascinating than depraved bisexual serial killer.

Throughout its run, Iceman has suffered from inconsistency in quality from the constantly changing artists to the heavy decompression and sometimes after school special tone of Bobby coming out to parents his in the first storyline. Up to this point, the “Legacy” storyline hasn’t been bad thanks to some fun guest stars like the younger Iceman, Champions, and Northstar and Kyle in Iceman #9, but then Sina Grace decided to sacrifice character growth for hackneyed plot “twists”.

Instead of doing something revolutionary with a rare opportunity to have a gay male character headline his own Marvel book, he falls back on the same old story patterns of mind controlled, queer coded villains and a dead, barely fleshed out love interest to make the light hearted hero darker and more vengeful.

It’s nice to have a mainstream comic book featuring a queer male character as a headliner, but we as readers deserve more than Will and Grace meets Women in Refrigerators, which is why I’ll be missing Iceman less than I probably should. His solo title had an excellent opportunity to zero in on Bobby’s relationships and growth, but now he’ll probably be back as the X-Men’s resident dad jokester and source of untapped potential without even getting to take a shot and see what his life would be outside that world.

Review: Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1

It’s 1953. While the United States is locked in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, the gay Southern playwright known as Snagglepuss is the toast of Broadway. But success has made him a target. As he plans for his next hit play, Snagglepuss becomes the focus of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. And when powerful forces align to purge show business of its most subversive voices, no one is safe!

Releasing January 3, 2018, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 is one of the strongest debuts of a comic series in a while and sets a high bar for 2018. Written by Mark Russell, the series gives us a fleshed out concept we first saw in the Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits Special #1 back in March 2017. After that strong tease, I’ve been counting down in anticipation until this limited series was officially released and with that anticipation comes high expectations. Thankfully, even with that Herculean level of build up, the comic not only meets expectation but surpasses them in every way. The Snagglepuss Chronicles is emotionally poignant, brutally honest, and utterly brilliant.

Russell is a master satirist as we’ve seen with his work on Prez, The Flintstones, and more. Much like The Flintstones, Russell is using Snagglepuss in unexpected ways, making him gay, a playwright, and throwing him the middle of the Red Scare of the 50s. Also like The Flintstones’ deft take on current issues like the election, misogyny, toxic masculinity, the treatment of veterans, and religion, this too feels timely as the United States is in the middle of a second “Red Scare.”

While The Flintstones used humor, Snagglepuss seems to instead focus on the emotional punch because while it has been made clear that Snagglepuss is gay in the lead up, he’s very much closeted in the comic. Being gay and in entertainment in the 1950s was a sure way to get yourself investigated by the McCarthy witch hunt, led by a conservative streak we’re seeing rise again today. While struggles for the LGBTQ community still exist, Russell reminds us about how far we’ve come as Snagglepuss sneaks around to experience honest love but also setting this revelation at the Stonewall Inn, the site of riots 16 years later, a historical site recognized and event recognized as a major turning point in the gay rights movement. There’s no doubt there’s symbolism in the location chosen as this is the moment Snagglepuss “comes out” to the reader and the location is used to tell the tale of the struggle of gay individuals in this time period. Entertaining and smart with every minute detail adding to the rich and heartbreaking story.

Russell is helped with the art by Mike Feehan whose style fits the time period and evokes imagery we’d expect with a flair of The Great Gatsby. But, what Feehan does that’s most impressive is blend this world of human and animal to the point it works and you don’t even think about it. No matter how silly the situation, it feels natural and just works. You can see an example of that to the left where both a human and giant pink cat are dressed up as dogs for a play. The concept is so out there but nothing about it seems odd as you get going.

There’s also something to the art adding to the plot of a closeted individual who’s about to be outed. The animal as human can easily be interpreted as stand-ins for obfuscation about the truth of who we are and how we present. It’ll be interesting to see how both the story and art continue in this direction, if they continue. The art adds to the concept that we are more than what we see at the outermost level.

The downside of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 is that it sets up such high expectations not only for itself, but everything else we might expect in 2018. That’s the trouble with going first, if you’re as good as this is, everything else has to measure up and very little will.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Mike Feehan
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1

It’s 1953. While the United States is locked in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, the gay Southern playwright known as Snagglepuss is the toast of Broadway. But success has made him a target. As he plans for his next hit play, Snagglepuss becomes the focus of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. And when powerful forces align to purge show business of its most subversive voices, no one is safe!

Releasing January 3, 2018, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 is one of the strongest debuts of a comic series in a while and sets a high bar for 2018. Written by Mark Russell, the series gives us a fleshed out concept we first saw in the Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits Special #1 back in March 2017. After that strong tease, I’ve been counting down in anticipation until this limited series was officially released and with that anticipation comes high expectations. Thankfully, even with that Herculean level of build up, the comic not only meets expectation but surpasses them in every way. The Snagglepuss Chronicles is emotionally poignant, brutally honest, and utterly brilliant.

Russell is a master satirist as we’ve seen with his work on Prez, The Flintstones, and more. Much like The Flintstones, Russell is using Snagglepuss in unexpected ways, making him gay, a playwright, and throwing him the middle of the Red Scare of the 50s. Also like The Flintstones’ deft take on current issues like the election, misogyny, toxic masculinity, the treatment of veterans, and religion, this too feels timely as the United States is in the middle of a second “Red Scare.”

While The Flintstones used humor, Snagglepuss seems to instead focus on the emotional punch because while it has been made clear that Snagglepuss is gay in the lead up, he’s very much closeted in the comic. Being gay and in entertainment in the 1950s was a sure way to get yourself investigated by the McCarthy witch hunt, led by a conservative streak we’re seeing rise again today. While struggles for the LGBTQ community still exist, Russell reminds us about how far we’ve come as Snagglepuss sneaks around to experience honest love but also setting this revelation at the Stonewall Inn, the site of riots 16 years later, a historical site recognized and event recognized as a major turning point in the gay rights movement. There’s no doubt there’s symbolism in the location chosen as this is the moment Snagglepuss “comes out” to the reader and the location is used to tell the tale of the struggle of gay individuals in this time period. Entertaining and smart with every minute detail adding to the rich and heartbreaking story.

Russell is helped with the art by Mike Feehan whose style fits the time period and evokes imagery we’d expect with a flair of The Great Gatsby. But, what Feehan does that’s most impressive is blend this world of human and animal to the point it works and you don’t even think about it. No matter how silly the situation, it feels natural and just works. You can see an example of that to the left where both a human and giant pink cat are dressed up as dogs for a play. The concept is so out there but nothing about it seems odd as you get going.

There’s also something to the art adding to the plot of a closeted individual who’s about to be outed. The animal as human can easily be interpreted as stand-ins for obfuscation about the truth of who we are and how we present. It’ll be interesting to see how both the story and art continue in this direction, if they continue. The art adds to the concept that we are more than what we see at the outermost level.

The downside of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 is that it sets up such high expectations not only for itself, but everything else we might expect in 2018. That’s the trouble with going first, if you’re as good as this is, everything else has to measure up and very little will.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Mike Feehan
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Heavy Vinyl #4

HeavyVinyl4Cover“Have I ever really helped anybody but myself/To believe in the power of songs/To believe in the power of girls?”- Metric, “Dreams So Real”

Heavy Vinyl #4 (The comic formerly known as Hi-Fi Fight Club.) cements its legacy as one of the cutest, gayest, and riot grrl-est comics ever in this miniseries finale from writer Carly Usdin, artists Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores, and colorists Rebecca Nalty, Kieran Quigley, and Walter Baiamonte. The comic plays with the most delightful of tropes, including scrappy underdogs fighting shady corporate overlords, the adorable saying goodbye to family montage, and of course, the big damn kiss. Vakueva panel layouts are also very lively and slanted for maximum fierceness even if this comic isn’t a beat ’em up battle royale story. It rocks though.

Even though she has to wrap up the first Heavy Vinyl storyline as well as set up some threads for future stories, Usdin doesn’t skimp on character development, and Vakueva and Flores use visuals to give a glimpse into each member of the Vinyl Mayhem fight club’s personal life. Of course, the manager/team leader Irene has an adorable dog and girlfriend, and Kennedy enjoys hot chocolate with her boyfriend Logan, who has become the Chris Hemsworth to their Ghostbusters and a solid source of comic relief throughout the series. Of course, Maggie has two doting dads, who spoil her with pancakes and fresh squeezed orange juice, and Chris is just trying to keep things together as she freaks out every time her parents say “action” with some manga-influenced sweat lines.

HeavyVinyl4interior

My personal favorite intro was Dolores, who is Puerto Rican, and has a close relationship with her family to go with her computer knowledge and Goth aesthetic. Nalty uses plenty of shadows in her room and just a glimpse of sunshine to show that she’s a complex character and not just a sullen Goth. I also like how Vakueva lays out her room and uses body language to show that Dolores feels a little bit of tension in balancing work and school as well as going out of state. Even though the spotlight has mainly been on Chris and Maggie, Usdin has given her a mini arc throughout Heavy Vinyl, and she plays a big, take charge role in the final big reveal with her no-nonsense attitude and technical knowledge. However, she has a softer side too as is revealed in an epilogue that made this 90s geek kid smile.

Even if it’s extraneous to the missing rock star/mind control overarching plot of  Heavy Vinyl, the hella awkward and hella cute slow burn romance between Chris and Maggie is the book’s beating heart. And there’s plenty of pay off in Heavy Vinyl #4 beginning with the complete adorableness that is Maggie falling asleep on Chris’ shoulder during the bus ride to New York. Palty emphasizes the blue sky outside their window, which creates a hopeful vibe while Vakueva and Flores draw one of the happiest faces of all time as Chris looks out the window. They and Usdin channel these intense feelings throughout the second half of the comic culminating in the reddest blush ever when Maggie tells Chris that she obviously knows about her crush. In general, these Maggie/Chris scenes show off the tightrope of romance and humor that Heavy Vinyl ably walks.\

But Heavy Vinyl #4 isn’t all longing glances, sweet montages, and kick ass tunes. Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva, and Irene Flores do a lot of world-building and other big picture things like making the plot of this miniseries just the tip of the iceberg for a conspiracy storyline that is similar to Josie and the Pussycats, but trades out the camp for indie rock earnestness.  Some of the lines about this plot development are super on-the-nose, but Usdin is a smart and has Chris say most of them like “Music is about expression.” Chris’ intense love for the band Stegosaur and hunger  for finding and learning about new music as part of developing her identity as a young woman is a big part of her character arc so the lines really work. Also, the first in-person appearance of Rosie Riot is quite breathtaking.

Heavy Vinyl #4 has it all:  deep character dives, well-developed romance, organic world building, and a passionate tone from Rebecca Nalty’s background colors to Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores’ design choices and fight formations to Carly Usdin taking time to show each main cast member with their family. Music is awesome, stories about that are by women are awesome, and Heavy Vinyl is one of the best comics of 2017.

Story: Carly Usdin Pencils: Nina Vakueva Inks: Irene Flores
Colors: Rebecca Nalty with Kieran Quigley and Walter Baiamonte
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #7

Iceman #7 has Bobby making an Ice-kaiju to use in battle with his old Champions teammates and also has many character defining moments for him. Writer Sina Grace combines the quick banter and pitched fights of old school superhero team fights with some relationship bits like Iceman going a little further in a sexy way with Judah and chatting with the Champions about his overcompensating, macho ways back in the day at a Russian bakery. Robert Gill’s art is serviceable, and he does something interesting things with spacing like making the new X-Men headquarters in Central Park seemed very crowded compared to Judah and Bobby’s nightly walks in L.A. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are much the same way even though she makes Bobby’s ice powers look extra badass.

Even though the story is chock full of superhero guest stars, Grace and Gill manage to chisel out an image of Bobby as a hero and man. Iceman is comfortable in team settings, making the jokes, and teaching the younger heroes, but he also wants to strike out on his own, date a new cute guy, and knows that the X-Men are in capable hands. The “villain” in this issue are special effects designers who are hoping to impress a Hollywood studio with their almost lifelike Sentinel replicas. Some heroes would throw these women in jail or in The Raft or somewhere, but Bobby realizes their mechanical talents and desperateness to be significant somewhere and helps find them professor jobs. He can make dad jokes and be honest, empathetic, self-aware, and sometimes impulsive like the end of this issue.

Even though the Champions don’t have their own movie or TV show, like the X-Men, Avengers, or even the New Warriors, Robert Gill and Rachelle Rosenberg deliver on a monster setpiece to open Iceman #7 and cash in on the promise of last issue’s cliffhanger. Bobby displays so much swag, creativity, and leadership in this fight and basically wants to get it over with so he can Netflix and chill with his man. Gill also draws some close-ups of Angel because he is sexy and hell and also because he and Iceman have a close relationship. Later, Grace and Gill use him for innuendo and class consciousness purposes when his wingspan can barely fit in Iceman’s New York apartment. Tempting as it maybe to transform Iceman into a slice of life, romance book, Bobby Drake has been a hero since the 1960s (In comic book years.), and he’s not going to stop even if he goes solo for real this time.

It looks like the Champions team-up isn’t going to continue beyond Iceman #7 although Sina Grace did a nice job of using it to set up an L.A. setting, connect Bobby to non-X-Men related parts of the Marvel Universe, and also dig into why he acted like a macho wannabe flirt in older comics. Grace, Gill, and Rosenberg use Ben-Day dot flashbacks from Bronze Age comics to explore and critique Bobby’s toxic masculinity when instead of treating Black Widow like a powerful ally, he hit on her and was immediately cut down to size. However, he has learned his lesson over the years and is starting to come into his own as a gay man. And this whole freedom thing goes into overdrive towards the end of the issue. But not after he roasts each and every X-Man before movie night.

Iceman #7 is a real turning point issue for the series in both sexy and non-sexy ways as Bobby Drake shows that he can do both the self-realization and transforming his body into Godzilla ice shapes thing. Also, it’s nice to have the same artist on two (not so) straight issues.

 

Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Why Star Trek: Discovery Matters for Representation

In various interviews about her “Star Trek” role, Whoopi Goldberg describes why she wanted to be on the show: Up until “Star Trek,” people of color weren’t included in any vision of the future. She grew up in an era of segregation, with high-profile murders of civil rights leaders and activists, and a renewed push to build Confederate monuments. In such a time representation in science fiction might seem unimportant, but for 9-year-old Whoopi, it meant the world. Over the years she’s been very clear about how much it meant to her to see Lt. Uhura—a black woman—on screen. But despite the progressive history of “Star Trek,” LGBTQ children have never had the opportunity to see themselves represented on the show until now. This week’s episode of “Star Trek: Discovery” takes us inside the bedroom of a gay couple, putting their relationship front and center for the first time in the 50-year history of “Star Trek.”

“Star Trek” was groundbreaking for its representations of people of color and women. In addition to Nichelle Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura, George Takei played Lt. Sulu, who eventually becomes a captain, and Walter Koenig’s Ensign Pavel Chekov—at the height of the Cold War—showed a future where the Soviet Union was not an enemy. “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to show women in command; the original pilot had a female first officer, but the studio nixed it. The show was also groundbreaking for having one of the first interracial kisses on TV. “Star Trek” offered a view of the future that was so fundamentally different and inclusive that it inspired people about their possibilities.

None of this is meant to negate some of the very real problems with sexism and racism that did creep through. Women wore skirts and, according to one episode, were not allowed to be captains. And in one episode, Uhura’s mind was erased and she suddenly spoke Swahili. Those are relics of the era and mistakes we shouldn’t repeat. But the grand mission of “Star Trek”—to show a future where humanity has overcome racism, hatred and greed, and has united to expand our understanding of the universe—is one that is as necessary today as it was in the 1960s.

While “Star Trek” was a pioneer in depicting people of color and women, it’s been sadly behind the curve in its representation of queer communities. Of course, in the original series there wouldn’t have been LGBTQ representation. It was the beginning of the LGBTQ movement. The Stonewall Riots happened the month the show was canceled, and it would be another decade before Harvey Milk would burst onto the scene in San Francisco.

But by the 90s and early 2000s, when “Star Trek” had the opportunity to continue with Roddenberry’s progressive vision of the future and include LGBTQ people, it did not. The producers flirted with it; Roddenberry himself was supportive of an AIDS metaphor episode, which would have been fitting since one of the actors from the film series died from AIDS related causes around the same time. But the network scrapped that idea. An episode of “The Next Generation” did feature an agender species, and “Deep Space Nine” had two women kiss. This kiss was a big deal; it came two years before Ellen DeGeneres came out, and it generated more hate mail than most episodes. But despite efforts over many years to have a LGBTQ character on “Star Trek,” our communities were mostly left behind by the franchise.

More recently, the film reboots have retconned Sulu to be gay, with the introduction of a husband and child, seen from a distance in 2016. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of Sulu and his family in the fourth film, and while it was a very nice step for LGTBQ representation, it was also a very small aside.

Part of what got Whoopi Goldberg so excited about “Star Trek” was not only the existence of a black woman in that fictional world but the dignity with which she was treated:

“When I was 9 years old, ‘Star Trek’ came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mom, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.”

Dignity is particularly important. LGBTQ people are often a punchline. Take a look at the recent remake of “Beauty and the Beast”; the gay character is a buffoon, someone to laugh at. Or producers will present a sexually charged scene with perfect bodies, meant more for eye candy than character development. And when it’s two women, it’s almost always directed for the male gaze. “Star Trek: Discovery,” however, takes us into the bedroom of a committed couple as they talk about their fears and their love for each other. It focuses specifically on an argument they have, centered on career and personal safety. This is a scene about them as people, whole and complete, struggling with what every other person struggles with. It affirms queer dignity, agency and love. It shows us that we make it to the 23rd century.

Before someone says “Of course you make it to the future,” just stop. The president of the United States made a joke about how the vice president would like to hang us all. He spoke at the conference of an actual real-life LGBTQ hate group this past weekend. Globally there are countries that still execute us. In the United States, poverty rates are higher for LGBTQ people, you can be fired in 28 states for being gay, and violence and hate crimes are on the rise. All of this is to say that we deserve to have a future to look forward to. We deserve to look at the TV and see ourselves portrayed with dignity—the way that Whoopi Goldberg and Martin Luther King Jr. did when they watched “Star Trek” in the 60s.

Growing up, I loved “Star Trek.” I discovered it when I was 6 or 7. It was the only show my mother allowed us to watch, because she too liked this vision for the future. My parents were going through a rather unpleasant divorce, and “Star Trek” offered a refuge, a stability in the future that I didn’t have in my daily life. I gravitated toward and saw myself most in the outsider characters—Spock, Data,  Odo and 7 of 9. I wasn’t quite represented; yes, there were white men, but none of them were quite like me. I recognize now that it was those characters’ struggle to fit in that I connected with. Ultimately, I felt alienated from the people and relationships portrayed in the media. Kids today who watch “Star Trek” don’t have to feel like outsiders; they get to be full people in the series.

Throughout the 80s, 90s and into the 21st century, television made huge strides in LGBTQ representation. “Designing Women,” “Will & Grace” and “Glee” saw LGBTQ storylines develop from one-off episodes to central plots of the series. Even science fiction, full of male bravado and, too often, toxic masculinity, managed to begin to include us before “Star Trek.” “Torchwood,” “True Blood,” “The Walking Dead” and others have had LGBTQ characters and storylines. The “Battlestar Galactica” web series outed a main character; the prequel series “Caprica” had a major gay relationship. And “Stargate” had a lesbian main character in 2009. Of course, there was no “Star Trek” during most of the era when sci-fi began including us.

This may seem small, but it’s affirming and it’s exciting. “Star Trek” has finally come into the modern era and made us a part of the future.


Asher Huey is a DC based progressive activist and organizer.

Review: Iceman #6

Writer Sina Grace, new series artist Robert Gill (Who ups the beefcake level considerably), and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg give Bobby Drake a fresh start on the West Coast in Iceman #6 as he reunites with his former Champions teammates: Angel, Hercules, Darkstar, and Ghost Rider (The Johnny Blaze version) in L.A. They start by sharing memories about their fallen friend Black Widow (Who was brutally fridged in Secret Empire by HYDRA Cap.), but the story gets much lighter. The banter between the short-lived superhero teammates is pretty fun, and best of all, Iceman finally gets to go on a date and do gay things with a cute guy out West.

Iceman #6 is a little short on action with the bad guy being a Hollywood effects wannabe/single mom, who decides to make her big mark by building a Sentinel and wrecking the city for some reason or another. Her motivation is pretty weak, and she’s basically just there to set up a superhero team-up in the next issue and set up a funny joke mixing Iceman up with the Silver Surfer. (Because they both wear trunks and nothing else sometimes, I guess.) But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grace and Gill spend most of the issue establishing the bond between the once and future Champions and having Bobby flirt, dance, and yes, even make out with a guy he meets while waiting in line for a new pair of cool shoes. Judah uses even more ,and it’s nice to see someone finally show Bobby the ropes of being an out gay man with the painful coming out to his parents arc out of the way.

He does doing anything crazy or innovative with panel layouts, but Robert Gill brings a real energy and sexiness to his artwork in Iceman #6. My main problem with his art is that his civilian designs for Johnny Blaze and Angel are a little too similar, and I had to use context/comics backstory clues to realize that Bobby and Warren were having a heart to heart on the Hollywood sign, not Iceman and Ghost Rider. However, he more than redeems himself in the sequence where Bobby and Judah cut a rug on the dance floor that has a swirling energy and a blue from Rachelle Rosenberg that is part romantic, part “in da club”. Gill uses a couple inset panels to show off Bobby and Judah’s moves and flirting before zooming out for a big damn Hollywood kiss. He captures the fashion, fun, and friendship of my favorite gay bars and clubs, and some highlights are Hercules’ deep V and Ghost Rider trying to find parking for his bike next to some leather daddies. Grace’s writing digs into a nice vein of awkwardness, self-realization, and adrenaline that I definitely felt the first time I kissed a man  Yay for stubble on cheeks!

With the return of the Champions combined with Bobby going on its first date, Iceman #6 hits a nice sweet spot between Bronze Age era nostalgia and modern slice of life. Sina Grace writes the interactions between Bobby and the Champions like a college reunion (He even studied accounting in grad school during the original series.) with the memories of the past being the main conversation topic except for when he chats with Angel, who is like the good college friend you’ve stayed in touch with over the years. It’s also nice to see him go on a date and use his superhero buddies to impress his date while Robert Gill’s art is definitely more aesthetically pleasing than some of the previous visuals on Iceman.

Finally, the Iceman smooching in this issue is a great belated National Boyfriend Day present.

 Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

GLSEN Will Honor DC Entertainment for Supporting LGBTQ Content and Characters

GLSEN will honor DC Entertainment with the Visionary Award at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards. Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and President of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will accept the award at the gala on Friday, October 20th at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

DC is a leader in supporting LGBTQ content and characters. With a commitment to showcasing diverse storylines, they broke barriers in mainstream comics with characters like Batwoman as the first lesbian Super Hero as a comic lead and Alysia Yeoh as the first trans character. The comics feature numerous groundbreaking characters like Midnighter, Catwoman, Renee Montoya, and many others. In June 2016, DC along with IDW Publishing, brought together writers and artists to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando with “Love is Love.” And DC TV shows feature LGBTQ characters on shows like Supergirl, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Gotham.

DC Entertainment will join previously announced 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards Honorees Kerry Washington, Bruce Bozzi, and Zendaya.

The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcase the work of students, educators, community leaders, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Past Los Angeles honorees include Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake; Julia Roberts and Danny Moder; Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Bob Greenblatt; Shonda Rhimes; Matt Bomer & Simon Halls; and Kate Hudson. The GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles will welcome approximately 600 guests, including outstanding youth leaders and educators from around the country, raising more than $1 million in support of GLSEN’s work.

GLSEN has led the way on LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990. Through ground-breaking original research, innovative program development, student leadership and educator training, community organizing, and targeted state and federal advocacy, GLSEN has seen the impact of its work with the development of educational resources, direct engagement of youth and educators, and national programs like GLSEN’s Day of Silence, GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, and GLSEN’s Ally Week.

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