Chuck Palahniuk is frequently known as the author of the revolutionary novel Fight Club. While it discusses and explores the ideas of toxic masculinity and consumerism, many readers fail to realize that the author behind the words is a gay man. For me, before I even knew what Fight Club was, Invisible Monsters by Palahniuk was the first queer novel I ever read. It’s very important to me in a way that is difficult to describe. I had only discovered it because of Panic at the Disco’s song Time to Dance, that featured quotes from the novel.
This was the first time I had ever read about trans people and about queer lives. I was 13 and it honestly opened the world up for me. While I may not have deeply understood the various themes explored within the novel like beauty standards, acceptance, addiction, and mental health, this book remains integral for exposing me to queer fiction in general.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is a novel I connected with instantly. Our protagonist Liz already feels comfortable with herself as a queer BLPOC in a high school setting and seeing that made my heart soar with infinite happiness. When I was in high school, I was stared at whenever I had a girlfriend and I never knew how to articulate how invasive, scared, and vulnerable that made me. So much so, that I stopped attempting to date girls in high school because of how uncomfortable being queer was. I am so happy that many young adults will have access to a character like Liz in You Should See Me in a Crown to know they are not alone. I would have killed to have a book like this when I was younger.
Things like homophobia, racism, classism, and self-acceptance are explored in a manner that feels painfully authentic. However, Johnson still delivers a happy ending for Liz and I think stories about queer happiness are so important. This book feels like a breath of fresh air and I urge everyone to read it!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a novel that moved me to tears. Specifically, a half hour of waterworks pouring over the writing of a bisexual woman. I identify as a genderqueer person whose pronouns are she/her/they/them and to see Evelyn Hugo’s character progression in discovering her bisexuality was deeply moving. Surprisingly, this was the first piece of prose I had read that wrote bisexuality in a way that did not seem fetishized or inauthentic. I have had relationships with both women and men and to see Evelyn consistently stand her ground within her own relationships was astounding.
Reid cultivated a powerful story exploring Evelyn’s marriages to seven different men throughout her golden years as a Hollywood starlet. However, she writes about how love is love and marriage in the 40’s-80’s doesn’t showcase the truth of what being queer was like. Reid writes queer characters with delicate precision. The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hugo is a character drama that sticks to you even months after you’ve finished it.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Gideon the Ninth has quickly become a new favorite book of mine. The first in the Locked Tomb trilogy, it explored Gideon Nav as she attempts to help a member of a Death Cult become a powerful Lychtor. What is so fascinating about this read is that the ideas of gender roles and sexuality are written inherently into the sci-fi heavy thriller. In Muir’s written universe, gender norms aren’t even a concept discussed amongst it’s characters or their culture; so Gideon being a strong, butch lesbian is amazing because she is written freely as one without the pain of heteronormative culture. It was so cool to read a book where our main characters don’t have to suffer with the troubles of coming out or being judged for their sexuality or their gender expression. Muir’s writing is hilarious and poignant at times making for one of the most riveting reads about lesbian space necromancers.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer is a graphic novel like no other. It explores queerness in a different way from other books on this list. Windy, the younger protagonist, is what Tamaki describes as queer girl isolated and finding herself. In a book about exploring the transition between young girl to woman and the in-between, it captures an experience that I think many can relate to.
As a young adult graphic novel, it does important work in showcasing how confusing it is to learn about changing bodies, sex, pregnancy, relationships, divorce, and mental health. Told through beautiful shades of blue, this is a must read.
Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood by Trixie Mattel & Katya
Trixie Mattel and Katya are two drag queens that are more than important to me on so many different levels. Drag Race is one of few shows where I got to see a window into queer lives and culture; where the art of drag is celebrated and the concepts of gender identity made its way into my life. Trixie and Katya both helped shape and mold my exploration of gender identity and made me realize, “Hey! Maybe I’m not cisgender!” While it may have taken me a very long time to comfortably say out loud that I am genderqueer, Trixie and Katya, through this book and their many different projects together, have always been here for me.
Their Guide to Modern Womanhood is a comedy book where Trixie and Katya give all their in’s, outs, tips, and tricks on loving yourself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how to define your own version of beauty that honors yourself, and be able to live your life regardless of culture norms and rules. With their signature humor and lots of introspective bits about queerness, this is a fun read that feels like a warm hug.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
This is the only novel on this list that I have not read but it was a definite must buy as it came out this month! One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston is a romance about time-traveling lesbians falling in love with New York City. Maybe it is the sitcom lover in me that always feels connected and enticed by stories taking place in The Big Apple, but I find Jane and August’s subway romance to be an absolute must read. Readers will follow August as she attempts to create a new and exciting life for herself in NYC, all while falling in love with a 1970’s punk rock chick. What’s not to love?
The GC52 Logo appears on televisions, computers, and all other types of viewing devices an hour before it’s typically scheduled time. Lead Anchor Dan McMahon sits at the center of the newsroom behind his desk. For this special, he dons a white collared shirt and a rainbow striped tie.
Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all of our viewers from various places within the beautiful multiverse, GC52 has prepared an additional segment to inject a little bit of romance, excitement, mystery and dare I say…Pride, into your lives. Today’s extra segment is all about the people in our shared universe who stand their ground- as an individual, as a partner, or as a family. To kick off our coverage, Becca is interviewing a unique character that claims to have spotted the infamous Batwoman!
Becca: Good evening, multiverse! I’m here in Gotham, on the scene where local vigilante Batwoman has just squared off with the villainous Mad Hatter. Here with me is the sole, um… eyewitness…to the action.
Becca awkwardly shuffles over to a standing Mirror, ornate but cracked.
Becca: Uh, no offence, but this feels a little “Snow White” to me right now.
Mirror: None taken.
Becca: So can you shed a little light on how this all started?
Mirror: Well, an unobservant eye might have thought this was just your standard night of Gotham fisticuffs, but what happened here was far more runs much deeper.
Becca: I guess that’s somewhat to be expected when Jervis Tetch is involved.
Mirror: Exactly. Using his mind-control technology, the Mad Hatter encouraged Batwoman to make personal confessions and confront and past of struggling to find a sense of belonging.
Becca: Confessions? Could you elaborate?
Mirror: Sure. Tetch started with her childhood. He had her talk about the times she shared with her twin sister. Two kids, playing a game of Mirroring each other – something I know a little bit about! Young Batwoman followed and imitated her sister’s dress, makeup, and actions, learning to be a “proper lady”. It didn’t come as easy to her as it came to her sister, but her sister was always there for her to follow.
Becca: That’s adorable. Huh…that’s too wholesome and happy for a Gotham vigilante. Where’s the catch?
Mirror: Then came her sister’s apparent death.
Becca: Ah, there it is.
Mirror: Without her twin, the young hero struggled. With no one there to mimic, she didn’t feel like much of a proper lady, in dress and in actions. Mirrors became hard for her to confront, as she could only see her twin – the kind of girl she was supposed to be and the kind of girl she was not. I feel somewhat guilty about that, personally.
Becca: What made her feel so different? Did she continue to say?
Mirror: Oh, yes. Though she fought hard against Jervis’ influence, she was an open book. See, Batwoman was not the type of girl that girls are expected to be. Batwoman spent less time on her hair and makeup and more time playing sports. Instead of prim and proper, there was rough and tumble. Instead of longing for boyfriends, she wanted girlfriends.
Mirror: Unable to live up to the expectations of herself left Batwoman feeling angry and broken. The “wrong side of the Mirror” is what she called herself.
Becca: Anyone might feel that way. I’VE felt that way.
Mirror: Sure. But let me be the first to tell you – there IS no wrong side of a Mirror. Only a different side.
Becca: So, how did Batwoman defeat the Mad Hatter?
Mirror: It takes mad to know mad I suppose. In a turn of events no one expected, Batwoman’s very-much-still-alive twin sister, the villain Alice, helped our hero.
Becca: She was there the whole time?!
Mirror: Yep! Jervis believed he could heal all the years Batwoman spent feeling different and broken by convincing her to change into another Alice, another villain. The game could keep going. Batwoman confronted the Mad Hatter about his own insecurities, his own fears of being different, being “backwards”. But Batwoman knew from years of the same struggle that there are people out there who feel and are the same sort of different, the same sort of other. And you see yourself in them. That’s where community comes from. That’s where taking pride in it begins.
Becca: She’s not wrong. Did she manage to convince the Mad Hatter.
Mirror: Oh, absolutely not. Alice punched him out the second he resisted.
Becca pinches the bridge of her nose.
Becca: Well, that tracks. There was an attempt at least. One last thing. How did you get cracked?
Mirror: Oh this? Collateral damage. Comes with the territory when your an object nearby whenever the capes roll in.
Becca: Well…I hope you get well soon. [gently pats Mirror, shards splinter off] Okay…I don’t get the seven years of bad luck for worsening a broken Mirror, do I?
Mirror: I think that’s just a superstition, but don’t quote me on that. Just in case.
She lets out a heavy sigh.
Becca: There you have it, perhaps more information into the identity of the scarlet-clad Bat than we may ever hope to get from the most unlikely of sources. From Gotham, this is guest reporter, Becca. Back to you, Dan!
Dan: Nothing quite like a heart to heart from an unusual source. Batwoman continues to prove why she’s a symbol of strength for many in Gotham. On to a lighter tone, Rook is reporting on Mr. Constantine. How goes your investigation, Rook?
The camera cuts to Rook sitting at a table at The Time In A Bottle in London. They’re still fixing their hair and straightening the mic clipped to their battered leather jacket as the camera takes a few seconds to focus. Suddenly, they realize the camera is rolling, and they clear their throat.
Rook: So, we’re here at a pub, because I was engaging in the classic journalistic pastime of following John Constantine around, waiting for something horrible to happen. Unfortunately, this particular pub is a truce zone. No demons, no hauntings, etc. Also, nobody immediately punched Constantine in the face, which I imagine is a rare and celebrated occasion for him. The good news: the beer is incredible. The bad news: because nothing dramatic happened, all I have is a story I overheard from a silver fox that Constantine was trying to talk into a threesome. The better news — wait, let me introduce this with a little panache —
Rook hops up on the table, and the scant half-inch of beer left in their flagon sloshes back and forth. After a few seconds, the camera pans up to them doing jazz hands.
Rook: The BETTER news is that the story was about beating the shit out of a homophobic skinhead vampire. The silver fox was the sorcerer Extraño, there to stop Count Berlin from magically straightwashing the past. And get this — Extraño was there with Midnighter as muscle. Bad news for an unkillable vampire, because the Midnighter is one of the world’s foremost artists in the medium of pain, and you better believe that bloodsucker was begging for death by sun up.
Rook claps their hands together and sits down on the table. The camera follows momentarily.
Rook: I wish I could provide more details. Unfortunately, that is all I’ve got because some people, like Constantine and Extraño, have “better things to do,”
Rook pauses to make air quotes.
Rook: …Like “each other.”
Some unintelligibly cockney noises can be heard coming from off-camera.
Rook: The bar closed fifteen minutes ago? Wait. Does that mean no refills?
Further british gnashing of teeth is technically audible, but untranslatable.
Rook: This is like the only place I’ve found that sells Old Speckled Hen. Nobody stateside stocks beer with a name that British. I will literally pay you one hundred britbucks or whatever as a tip, just —
A shimmer of iridescence slides on-camera and zig-zags its way to the mug in Rook’s hand, turning it into a chicken on contact. The words “stupid motherfucker of a customer” can be heard scattered amidst the english mutterings.
Rook: HMMM. You are being very generous, and I hope you have a lovely night! I’m going to go off and not tempt fate somewhere else.
Rook and the camera operator promptly sprint out of the bar, treating the viewers to more poorly lit shakycam than a found footage film.
Rook: Thank you for watching, and oh my god, why am I still holding this chicken! This has been Rook for GC52 news!
The camera operator turns around as he jogs, only to discover more hens joining their pursuit. The screen goes dark for a second before the image of the well lit newsroom dominates the screen again.
Dan: Well, you can’t say we don’t know how to have fun here! Not sure if trying to outrun a bunch of…chickens is what Rook had in mind for today but a GateCrasher never fails to make the most out of a sticky situation, as I’m sure Mr. Constantine can relate to. Switching gears, Bree has a very interesting story coming out of Gotham, so here she is folks!
A cheerful grin emerges from the shadows of what seems to be a very old and derelict building. Bree is accompanied by a middle aged man, who is blinking repeatedly in the brightness of a small set of studio lights.
Bree: I’m coming at you live from an undisclosed warehouse in Gotham city, minutes after an alleged sighting of one of Gotham’s most elusive urban legends…The Question! I’m joined on site by Mr. Smith, the key witness! Mr. Smith, can you please recap what you saw for our audience at home?
Smith: W-Well… I was here for a plumbing job but it turned out I had the wrong address, so the wrong place at the right time I guess but- uh I saw a few big dudes, like REALLY big dudes, 4 I think-
Bree: Yes, yes. The Question?
Smith: Yeah! They popped in and popped the biggest guy, a real good one. I didn’t really mean to hide but I guess they didn’t see me and I didn’t want to be a problem. So I watched The Question hook the guy to a table with his own belt. He musta felt that one in the ego. Anyway, some weird yelps were coming from another room just down the hallway. Question books it over and I kinda hobble behind them. Had a peek into the next room and saw the lady that’s got that big campaign for…what was it? City Council I think? So I can’t really hear what they’re saying but it looks like the other 3 dudes were also taken out.
Bree: Oh, I wonder what Mrs. Johnson was here for. Or perhaps it was a failed kidnapping attempt…The Question always seems to leave behind MORE questions.
Smith: I really couldn’t tell ya. They left shortly after. Couldn’t hear much. I have been watching that show about body language with the wife though and I gotta say, there was SOMETHING going on between the 2 of ‘em. I guess the ladies love a lil bit of mystery.
Bree: INTERESTING…is love in the air for one of Gotham’s best kept secrets? Only time will tell! Back to you Dan!
Dan:Is there a better kept secret in Gotham than what the Questions’ love life is like? I’m inclined to think there is not. However, we’re going to move on to one pair of love birds that Gotham does know quite well. Violet has the scoop!
The camera moves on to Violet beaming at her desk.
Violet: Hello everyone, I have an adventurous and exciting story about Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy! I’ve a feeling you’ll enjoy this; both were seen down in the heart of the city battling an enormous plant monster that threw up everywhere and ate Harley’s mallet. The beast – who was christened Archibald – was accidentally created by, you guessed it….Harley and Ivy! The couple cleaned up their mess quickly though! Not too sure on the casualty numbers but that’s not important nor the best part! They shared not one, but two victory kisses as they spoke about their romantic relationship. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that is the best news I’ve heard in a long time! Back to you Dan!
Dan: Perhaps cannibalistic, sentient plant creatures are worth it if they bring people together. From one green thing to another, we have a witness report on a certain ring bearing hero.
Camera cuts from Dan to Amanda, a waitress where the event took place, holding a broom like a baby.
Amanda: Hi there, world! How are you?! Oh my god, oh my god, I wanna take this grand opportunity to thank my second cousin once removed, Sarah Lyn, you were always there for me since we were little kids, even if you always wanted to play hide and seek. And Frank, if you’re seeing this, you better give me back my cat or-
Someone gives her directions behind the camera to focus
Amanda: Right, right, Green Lantern. Well, it all started with these three men, two young boys and an old man, they came to the restaurant to have lunch together. I was taking and giving orders right and left, y’know, you don’t get to employee of the month by sitting all day! But from what I heard, the old man was the father of one of them, and he was meeting his son’s boyfriend for the first time. It all went normal, they seemed to get along well, and lemme tell ya, they were more than pleased with the attention. But the father and his son suddenly went out back. I thought they were gonna rob the place! I wasn’t about to bother the clients, so I followed them with Bobby
As she says the name, she shakes the broom in her hands as if presenting it
Amanda: But when they were alone, while I was watching from the door, the son turned shadows into a costume! It was unbelievable, I think it was Blue Beetle? No wait, Obsidian! There it is. And then the father started projecting light out of a ring, and I realized he was Green Lantern! The old one, y’know, my father was a big fan of his. If I didn’t know that, a couple seconds more and I would’ve bashed him. I heard he is vulnerable to wood, so if you think about it, I could’ve knocked ‘em out with Bobby. But anyway, he started telling a story to his son, showing everything with the ring. Suddenly there were a lot of weird green things in the room. Apparently, he’d lost the first man he ever loved in an accident, and he was alone, he didn’t even have someone to mourn with. And he couldn’t come out because it was still illegal at the time, he was afraid. But his son, the shadowy fellow, apparently had a lot of rough things happen to him, but he got better, and coming out helped him a little. Green Lantern wanted to feel the same, he wanted to at least feel like himself, so he finally came out, thanks to his son. They promised to help each other from here on out, be closer, and they finally hugged. Y’know, I couldn’t help but to cry, it was just too wonderful. I think even Bobby cried, and I didn’t even know he could do that.
Dan:Thank you for sharing that story with us, Amanda. It’s important to remember our heroes are people too, family relationships are complicated for everyone. Moving on to other relationships, Rodrigo is live with some very interesting going ons’ of the speedster variety.
The camera cuts and we see Rodrigo holding a Mirror and applying some makeup. For someone that is just putting on some lipstick they look pretty confused.
Rodrigo (whispering to themselves): Was that a person inside my Mirror?!?
They suddenly realize they’re live and snap out of it.
Rodrigo: Well, hello there! This is Rodrigo, your favorite reporter from the future, bringing you the most recent Flash sightings here in Central city. Early this afternoon Flash made a visit to the Flash Museum, in what seemed to be related to an investigation on a stolen item. After that, they were seen in a department store trying on a bunch of different outfits. I actually loved how they looked with that skirt but we all remember what happened the last time they were spotted with a skirt. Anyways, that has been all for…
Surprised Rodrigo holds a finger up to their earpiece and begins to speak.
Rodrigo: What do you mean people just watched how Flash was dragged into a Mirror?… Mirror Master? There hasn’t been a Mirror Master attack since… Wait, that was the thing somebody stole from the Flash Museum… Yeah, that actually explains a lot… They are out of the Mirror now?… A person with a Mirror on their face?… Flash is buying makeup?… Ok, thanks for the update.
Rodrigo turns directly to the camera as if talking to the audience.
Rodrigo: So I was just informed that the Flash was in a fight with a new villain named Reflek. I was also informed that The Flash was seen buying makeup just after said fight. This coupled with their other purchases seems to me to indicate that a certain speedster is preparing for a date. I have heard rumors that they’ve been dating Princess Andy Curry from Atlantis. Now, I don’t know about you but Flash dating Aquawoman sounds like a couple goals to me!
That’s all from me tonight, until next time!
Dan: Thank you for the story, Rodrigo! Never a dull moment in the life of any speedster, as they make the most of every single fraction of one. Bree has returned from Gotham to join me in the newsroom! She has an interesting tidbit on…Property value? Did I read that right, Bree?
Bree: Yes! 5 properties on Victory Boulevard have sold overnight to an anonymous buyer. My sources in the area are unsure exactly how or why, but they did hear a lot drumming and…a flute that night. Some older residents might know a shady character that went by Pied Piper, rumor has it he’s involved in this deal. The drums have been linked to a more upstart rogue that goes by Drummer Boy. All in all, a very perplexing evening.
Dan: What could a couple of morally grey music-based vigilantes want with a few apartments?
Bree: That is still the big question, Dan. However, there are rumors circulating about the property going back to its roots as geared to income apartments. Or even free dwellings for the disenfranchised. Really makes you reconsider what vigilantism is all about, right Dan?
Dan: Well, I guess you could say that. A housing crisis is a crisis that can span infinite earths. Perhaps-
Dan pauses and seems to look just past the camera. Non verbal communication seems to be happening between him and the production crew. The anchor mouths the word “Now” before reengaging with the camera.
Dan: GC52 is getting an exclusive, hot off the press live interview from a source that has seen a certain masked crusader in the print multiverse for the 1st time!
Camera cuts from Dan to a squirrel dressed in a fedora and a hat, smoking from a little pipe while sitting on a garbage can.
Dan: Good morning, Mr…?
Raymond: You can call me Harris, Mr. McMahon. Raymond Harris.
Dan: Well, Mr. Harris, what can you tell us about what happened this very night that is just finishing?
Raymond: It all began at around 22:00. The neon lights hid away from the fur of my face as I paced around the city, silently, almost as if the shadows finally consumed away my little soul, becoming only one. I’ve started investigating the death of an old friend of mine earlier this month, a white rat named Veronica. Apparently, she died because of some chemical spilled on the street. The police didn’t even try to look into it, the whole damn city didn’t care that the next time I played poker with my friends, she wouldn’t be there. So I took the matter into my own hands.
Raymond I’m more of a fisticuffs kind of squirrel, so it took me some time. But it all led me to the League of Assassins. With information given by the rat king, who aided me as a last gift to Veronica, I traced them to a factory that they apparently used as headquarters. When I was at the front, I saw one of these superheroes go from one building to the roof of the factory. I recognized her from the TV. I saw her at the bar I go to drink some scotch when my whiskers are not focused enough. The name’s Dreamer. With this unexpected change of events, I had to make my way as fast as I could into the building.
Raymond: I went through the ventilation system, and arrived at the scene just in time to see the members of the League give the chemical to their boss. The same chemical that killed Veronica. But suddenly the kid dropped down from the roof, and took the chemical. She then started to beat the shit out of them, they couldn’t even touch her. I have to say, I was impressed. With the other ninjas out of the way, she took out two swords and went for the big boss. The piece of shit was tough, but he went down in less time than I take to finish a good old scotch.
Raymond: I thought that maybe she would be good to have as an ally, in case I ever need help. Or she needs my help. So when she went away with the big goon and all, I followed her. But instead of a headquarters or something, she went to the theatre, apparently she had a date with her boyfriend. So I just left, guess it’ll have to be another time.
Raymond Harris keeps smoking the pipe as the camera cuts back to Dan.
Dan: Thank you, Raymond for…that. Sorry about Veronica, I hope you get your closure for her. Dreamer is as cool as ever though! Very excited to follow her future adventures! And going from dusk till dawn, Jordan is reporting from the Multiverses Pride Parade!
Cut to shaky camera phone footage of a parade in progress. A big crowd is out and about. Rainbow flags everywhere. The phone quickly turns around to Jordan, sweaty but upbeat.
Jordan: What up Dan! Woooooo! It’s ya man on the street and we’re out here today at the local Pride Parade and IT. IS. HOT! But that’s not stopping all these lovely people from….wait, is that…?
Camera zooms past Jordan’s shoulder to show Jackson Hyde as he walks down the street with Syl.
Jordan: Y’all seeing this? That’s Aqualad! And who’s that? Oh, wait, it’s one of those new students at the Titans Academy. Syl, right? Mmmm, they seem awfully close, I wonder what’s up with – –
People scatter as rain starts to fall. The camera is shaky again as Jordan runs somewhere to get dry. The camera turns as Jordan brushes at a stain on their shirt.
Jordan: Dammnit, I just got this shirt! Who spilled that bloody mary on me? I knew I shouldn’t have worn all white today.If this ain’t some bull–
Camera cuts up to the sky as the clouds open up. A shadowy figure descends to the streets.
Jordan: Oh great! If things weren’t bad enough, here comes a supervillain. Alwaysa supervillain. Grocery store, supervillain. Big meeting at work, supervillain. Tickets to BTS, supervillain. Why can’t you ever come when I’m on a bad date!
The camera is way out of focus as a blurry Jackson rushes in to fight off Eclipso.
Jordan: Aww, come on! Focus! I’m missing all the action! Sorry ya’ll, it’s just, why do they always have to change the camera on these things? The last one worked, leave it alone. Now there’s all these new modes and I just can’t.
Suddenly the camera snaps into focus just in time to see the JLQ arrive!
Jordan: Hold up, what’s this? Gregorio? Batwoman? Steel? Midnighter and Apollo? Is this the new JLQ we’ve been hearing about? I’m going in for an interview!
Jordan runs into the fray as heroes fly all around..
Jordan: Hello, Batowman would you care to–
Batwoman swings by on a grappling hook.
Jordan: She seems busy. Traci! Traci girl it’s me! Can you comment on–
Traci 13 animates some street lamps and charges past the camera.
Jordan: Y’all ain’t right! I’m just trying to do my job, same as you.
The camera pans around to show a rainbow peeking out behind the clouds. The crowds swarm back into the street to celebrate. Midnighter approaches the camera with a smirk.
Midnighter: Hey, you feeling okay?
Jordan: Yeah…I just…I think there was something in that rain. All this negativity came over me and–
Midnighter moves to the side as sounds of heaving come from off camera.
Midnighter: Yeah, I saw that coming a mile away.
As Jordan speaks, it’s clear he is feeling a bit weak in the knees.
Jordan: I almost threw up on Midnighter. This is the best day of my life. Back to you Dan.
Dan: And after the rain comes the rainbow, thank you Jordan! Well, that’s the end of our scheduled content for this special. Thank you for watching folks, stay loud and proud, and Goodbye for now!
Pride is a tricky time for a lot of bisexual people. Many have spent a lifetime between two worlds. Not hetero enough to fit in with the straights while at the same time not feeling like we have the right to exist visibly in queer spaces. It’s one of the reasons why it took me so long to publicly out myself as bisexual. The stigmas attached to my identity were intense to deal with so for a long time I just… didn’t. It’s possible I might have never come to terms with who I am had it not been for Nightwing’s ass.
Until 2018 I appreciated comics from a distance. Sure, I read grocery store Archie digests and my brother’s floppies but I didn’t start a regular pull or collecting trade paperbacks until my close friend and writing partner of seven years died of cancer that August. He and I had been the editorial team at a website dedicated to RPG video games, and as much as I still enjoyed gaming, I couldn’t write about it anymore. It felt wrong without him. So, I left that website to explore comic books.
Finding comics as an adult is hard because there are so many barriers to entry. Understanding character lineages and general continuity was a challenge that I spent the bulk of that year trying to wrap my head around. At a surface level I rationalized that I had to invest time up front to understand the medium before writing about it, but in reality, I was trying to obscure the pain and frustration of my day-to-day life.
Not long after my friend’s passing, I lost my full-time job in human resources and went through a career freefall, not sure if I ever wanted to continue in that field. My ADHD was untreated, and I was smoking cannabis on a daily basis to cope with an overactive brain. I would abuse alcohol to numb the senses. Shamefully, I shifted too much responsibility on my spouse. Not long into my severance period I developed a prolonged depression, which honestly made me feel like a total mess on top of a shit father to my then one year old son. Comics were my only escape.
The problem with escapism is that at some point you have to stop running. Compartmentalizing problems only works for so long, and comic books are surprisingly adept at tapping into real life issues as I learned after picking up Nightwing’s Rebirth run.
Of the many things I tucked away within myself, my attraction to men ranked pretty high. I knew on some level I had always been attracted to men but my expression was held back by a deeply internalized bisexual stigma. Was I just confused? Was this just a phase? I knew for a fact I was attracted to women but was I just being greedy or slutty or indecisive? Should I feel shame over my marriage to a woman? Biphobic questions like these haunted me for about 20 years before Nightwing’s ass made me confront the truth.
I mean… look at it. It’s magnificent. Sculpted to perfection.
When I started reading Tim Seeley’s Nightwing: Rebirth it was a revelation. The former sidekick had always been in fantastic shape but this was a run where DC’s artists really leaned into the bubble-butt. Not necessarily in an objectifying way, more as a distinct feature of Dick’s hot bod. A distinct feature I couldn’t ignore as it was slapped over almost every panel for over 30 issues.
When you’re inundated by butts that pick away at your repression defenses at some point you need to step back and ask yourself what’s going on. I had a lot of conversations with myself, my spouse, my therapist, and at some point it, became obvious. I’m bisexual. I’ve always been bisexual. And that was okay.
Finally finding a sense of pride in my identity created a domino effect in my life at large. I began taking medication regularly, changed careers, started running again, and eventually I became the proudly sober bisexual I am today. In an odd way, Nightwing’s ass stopped me from running from myself. Which led me to giving less of a damn about what other people thought and in turn to become less judgmental of others as well.
This year I am proud to be visible during Pride. I feel no shame over who I am or which butts I might be attracted to. Defeating that internalized stigma is probably as liberating to me as the skin tight spandex feels to Nightwing. Happy Pride.
Larry Trainor was a pilot for the US air force during the 50s. He had a wife, two children, and a reputation that would proceed him for decades. He was the type of person that could appear in a commercial for a real estate company and wouldn’t even need a script. Except, he always had a script of his own making, right under his sleeve. When he went to sleep with his wife, at a bar with his colleagues, or even when he looked in the mirror. And if anyone ever knew that, it would be the end of the world for him. And that’s because Larry Trainor was never that person. As much as he loved his wife and his children, he didn’t love her the same way he loved John Bowers, his mechanic in the Air Force. And even when the two of them were together, hiding in the back of a truck at the side of a railroad, a part of him was somewhere else, never where he really wanted to be.
But both the life he manufactured and the life he hid were taken away from him. Beyond the stratosphere, where his problems almost couldn’t reach him, he made contact with a being of pure energy that was permanently fused with his body. The airplane stopped working, and Larry fell unconscious. He woke up already on the ground, completely burned, but somewhat alive. He never aged a day thanks to the radiation from the negative spirit that lived inside him, but the world around him kept spinning. His wife knew he didn’t love her and couldn’t be with him anymore, his children grew up and Larry realized that he couldn’t give John the life he wanted, no matter how much he also wanted it. Eventually, he found a new home, and people that went through similar things as him. He was given shelter by Niles Caulder, and he lived in his mansion with Rita, Cliff, and Jane. But he never let himself get close to them enough, in fear of what might happen to them if he did.
So, what more to life than pain is there? When you’re constantly hurting because of past mistakes and things you had no control over? When you think your mere existence is wrong, and living is so hard that you don’t know what to do anymore?
In the case of Larry, he blamed himself for everything that happened to the people close to him even before the accident. John, his wife and children, always got the short end of the stick when being with him, and since he never got any kind of closure, he remained stuck. The position he was in was obviously understandable, after all, he was a gay man in the 50s who was exposed to homophobia since he was a kid. That’s all real and valid, but the pain of those he hurt was also real, and he could barely live with that baggage. And it was only worse after the accident. He couldn’t go to sleep without being afraid, because he dreamed of his loved ones burning in flames because of him. He couldn’t even be near other persons without the bandages that Niles made for him because of the radiation in his body. He was cut off from the world in every sense of it.
But slowly, he was able to heal at least some parts of him. He bonded with the rest of the people that lived with him. With Rita, he found another person that understood, at least partially, what he went through after the accident, and consequently, before it. With time, he didn’t feel so abnormal anymore. Contrary to what he believed before, there was a place to exist for the people that didn’t fit.
That only became more obvious when he met Danny the Street. A sentient, genderqueer, teleporting street, that serves as a refuge for the people that society rejected, and are kept alive by their happiness. At a cabaret on Danny, Larry is asked to sing, but he obviously declines. It would be easy to think he did it just because he tends to be negative and pessimistic, but knowing Larry, when he says that he doesn’t sing, there’s fear in his voice. Fear of exposing himself, fear of getting better because in his own mind, he doesn’t deserve it. But because it was needed to help Danny, he goes up to the stage. The spotlight is on him, blinding him for a second. The song starts, with him a little disoriented still. After a brief intro where he adjusts his brain into what he’s doing, he starts singing, and the music moves loudly to the forefront, slowly wrapping everyone around in the same feeling Larry starts feeling; freedom. He calls Maura Lee Karupt, the lead drag queen, to the stage, and the solo becomes a duet, expanding the happiness and pride even more. As the camera turns and this time we are blinded by the spotlight, Larry is no longer in bandages, or burned, but as he was before the accident. Maybe it’s something Danny can do, maybe it’s just a representation of how Larry sees himself at the moment. Now, that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that moment. The people start leaving their seats and dancing all around them until the cabaret is full of the most colourful and cheerful crowd you could imagine. Confetti starts falling, and Larry is immersed in his own freedom, and in happiness for the freedom of others, probably for the first time in his life.
That is, until everything cuts like the world suddenly stopped. And we’re again with Larry saying he doesn’t sing, but instead of going up to the stage, he leaves the cabaret. While this is a painfully sad scene, it shows us that inside of him there is an urgency for breaking free, getting out of the cage he fell in more than 80 years ago. And he keeps trying to get better.
Thanks to the negative spirit and their developing relationship, he discovers his lover, John, is in his last days of life. So he goes to him, and they meet for the first time since Larry’s accident. John can’t even walk by himself now, and he’s under the care of a nurse that’s also the only relevant person in his life. But he’s not sad, he had a good life, and he’s just glad Larry could go. So they reminisce together, and talk about what happened to them. John says that even though it was hard, he moved on from Larry, and is shocked that after so much time he couldn’t. So Larry, after some thinking, tells him about the negative spirit. How for so much time he didn’t understand them, but he thinks he finally does, and it might be a good thing. As he says that, he finally can really clear his mind of everything, and see the sunset with John, the way they wanted to so many years before. Sadly, when he turned his head, John had already passed away while they were talking. So he gives him a hug, and can finally say a proper goodbye to the love of his life.
While most of what happens to Larry during the show wouldn’t be particularly classified as ‘’Happy’’, we do see him make progress, and I think it’s evidenced more than ever during two conversations with Rita. During the first one, not long after they first met in the 60s, they realize that they may not be so alone anymore, and promise to ‘’Be lost causes together’’. But in the present day, after so much tragedy, when he seems to have finally given up on trying, Rita tells him that same as he did back then with her, she believes in him, and that no cause is totally lost if there’s someone willing to fight for them. Larry just delivers a quiet and weak ‘’Thanks’’ that sounds almost out of courtesy and nothing else, so he leaves while Rita enters her room. But in the midst of walking away, he abruptly turns around and approaches his friend rapidly, wrapping her with a hug that without any words said, gets the message across: After all the pain, there is hope.
The first time I read a book with Midnighter in it, he wasn’t even the star. It didn’t matter. He stole the show (repeatedly) in the DC superspy series Grayson, a tough feat considering Dick Grayson is flat-out one of my favorite characters.
At a glance, he looks and sounds exactly like Batman without the ears or the “no killing” code. The resemblance was intentional; originally part of the separate WildStorm comics universe, Midnighter and his husband Apollo were created to parallel Batman and Superman as part of their world’s premier superteam, the Authority.
Despite being created in the late 1990s, their relationship and identities are never trivialized, and the fact that Midnighter and Apollo are openly gay and the most unstoppable superheroes in the world still feels incredibly refreshing. While superhero comics at large were heavily influenced by The Authority’s visual style, tone, and approach to storytelling, direct descendants of its approach like Ultimate Marvel and the MCU largely failed to carry the torch of groundbreaking queer characters.
A while after DC acquired WildStorm and folded its characters into the mainline universe, Midnighter resurfaced in Grayson as the ex-superhero’s rival / foil / frenemy / ”nemesister.” His manic joy in combat, his relentless swagger, and his unique moral compass all come together to make him one of the best characters in a book full of all-timer characterizations.
Also, it would be a crime not to mention that Midnighter and Apollo begins with the couple fighting an evil god of subway trains.
Midnighter is fantastic for a dozen other reasons, but the one that still really gets me is that he gets to be the unstoppable badass in a way that’s almost always reserved for cis dudes, and he’s living for it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s better written and more nuanced than most hyper-violent action icons, easily earning his place among the best of the best.
“Gay Batman” is a hell of an elevator pitch, but that’s selling him short, because Batman isn’t having half as much fun. Midnighter never feels constrained by the limits of what straight people think gay characters should or could be. He just revels in being violence incarnate, and goddamn, it feels good to be along for the ride.
Midnighter (2015-2016) – By Steve Orlando and ACO
Midnighter and Apollo (2016-2017) – By Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco
The Authority (1999-2002) – By Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary
Grayson (2014-2016) – By Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin
The Wild Storm (2017-2019) – By Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt
Harley Quinn, created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, debuted in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. She has been a favourite of mine since around 2010. What attracted me to her is how strong and resilient she is, despite everything she’s been through. While following her through the years, I found myself resonating with her as a Bisexual woman who struggled with boundaries in relationships and found comfort in how she didn’t know all the answers but remained true to herself regardless. She’s messy and unsure but she’ll figure out the answers with you along the way.
Her bisexuality could arguably be dated back to her days on BTAS and early comics. How her sexuality was handled in earlier iterations has often been criticized, due to a lack of development or “back tracking”. However, later years (and leading up to 2020 in particular) took her character development in more consistent directions and her Bisexuality was represented more explicitly.
Gotham City Sirens (2009-2011) – by Paul Dini, Gulliem March, Tony Bedard and Andres Guinaldo.
Injustice: Year Zero (2020-2021) – by Tom Taylor, Cian Tormey, Rain Beredo, and Wes Abbott.
Harleen (2019) – Stjepan Sejic.
Harley Quinn & The Birds of Prey (2020-2021) – by Jimmy Palmoitti, Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (2019-2020) – by Jody Houser and Adriana Melo.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series (2019)
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)
Jess Chamber, a.k.a. The Flash of earth 11, is by all means a pretty new character. I still remember the announcement made by different comic book outlets that reported that DC was going to introduce a new non-binary character, who had their first appearance in DC’s Very Merry Multiverse, as Kid Quick. Around the same time Jess was introduced into the DC Multiverse, I myself was going through the process of figuring out my gender identity, and I was starting to realize I might be non-binary. This announcement finally gave me someone to relate to.
Before Jess, I didn’t know of any non-binary character who wasn’t a shapeshifter, an alien, or a sort of celestial being. That combined with the fact that I didn’t know any non-binary in real life made it hard to understand my own identity, but then Flash came to save the day. The best part is that Jess’ personality isn’t based around them being non-binary, they are funny, quippy, relaxed, and a bit cocky. Their relationship with princess Andy reflects the sweet side of Jess, and shows how non-binary people can have healthy and happy relationships, an idea that I personally have struggled with.
Even though they have been in the public consciousness for just a short time, Jess Chambers has quickly (pun intended) become a beloved character. They are a great symbol of how non-binary people really do exist and that we are human too. For non-binary folks like myself, Jess gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in the world of heroes. If you are non-binary and haven’t read any of Jess’ stories, I promise you will find a great character to relate to- and even if you’re not enby, you should check them out, I promise they won’t disappoint you.
DC’s Very Merry Multiverse, “To Stop the Star-Conqueress” (2020) – By Ivan Cohen and Eleanora Carlini
Future State: Justice League (2021) – By Ram V, Joshua Williamson, Robson Rocha and Marcio Takara
DC Pride, “Clothes Makeup Gift” (2021) – By Danny Lore and Lisa Sterle
The first time I became acquainted with the first Green Lantern was in the series ‘’Batman: The Brave And The Bold’’. By that time, I already knew the legacy that he forged and left in the hands of many other superheroes, thanks to characters like Hal Jordan or John Stewart. But I didn’t know about him. Created in 1940 by Martin ‘’Mart’’ Nodell along with Bill Finger for All-American Comics #16 (1940), when I first saw him in that show that premiered 68 years after the characters’ birth, I was very interested in him, despite his little screen time. He felt like a superpowered James Bond instead of just an ill-tempered boomer superhero. That, along with his cheesy and vibrant costume that seemed like it belonged to a magician turned vigilante, was enough to make me want to learn more about him. And he stands out a lot from other superheroes from that era. Batman or Superman, no matter how many years pass, how many sidekicks or sons they have, they stay mostly the same. But as the years passed for the readers, they also passed for Alan. He now has two children, his hair went white, and wrinkles are present on his face. Yet, he still retains the atmosphere of a sci-fi noir detective from the 40s in him, even in 2021, and around modern superheroes.
Alan was depicted as a gay man not once, but in two occasions, with the first one being an alternative and younger version from Earth 2, in the first issue of the book of the same name, made by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott in 2013. At the start of that story, he’s been away in other countries, thanks to his job. And after arriving in China, he meets with his boyfriend Samuel, and we’re given a full panel of them kissing, with a single dialogue that reads ‘’God, I’ve missed you’’.
But the character from the main universe remained untouched for a long time, and while it could’ve been thought that’s because he’s straight, the same Alan Scott that appeared on the pages of comics from the 1940s officially came out as a gay man on Infinite Frontier #0 (2021) by James Tynion IV and Stephen Byrne. In a calm and cathartic sequence, he explains to his two teenage children how he decided that it was time to be himself to the full extent of it, followed by a heart-softening hug between the three, that marks the end of a scene that I think redefines how we view the Golden Age superheroes, giving a lot more possibilities when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, and also reflecting the lives of those that had to take more time to accept who they are. Because Alan Scott, after 80 years of passing as a straight man, realized that it’s never too late to be ourselves.
Brightest Day, Blackest Night (2002) – By Steven T. Seagle and John K. Snyder III
JSA Classified (2005-2008) – By Stuart Moore, Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti
Justice Society Of America (2006-2011) – Gardner Fox, Everett E. Hibbard and Sheldon Mayer
Batman: The Brave And The Bold – Episode ‘’Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!’’ (2011)
My introduction to the hardened Gotham Police Detective, Renee Montoya, was through Batman: The Animated Series. Although she did debut briefly in Batman #475 (1992) before making an appearance in the animated series, Renee was created by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Mitch Brian. What has kept me coming back to the character since watching the Animated series as a child, is Renee’s dedication to uncovering the great mysteries of Gotham while adhering to her own values. Although Renee has faltered and struggled in very human and believable ways, she’s never “sold out”. When she realized she could no longer stay true to herself and be a member of the Gotham City Police Department, she resigns and take on the mantle of The Question (DC’s equivalent of a super Private Eye)
Renee has also been an out Lesbian since Gotham Central (2002-2006), a series by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. Her “outing” was a difficult, but rewarding story to read. As a Bisexual woman that also didn’t have a particularly warm and fuzzy “coming out”- I found a sense of comradery in seeing Renee grapple with the outcasting and male violence that may be all too familair for many Queer women. Regardless, she never stops fighting. In a world of super-humans, aliens, and chemical-bath-murder-clowns, Renee Montoya is going to figure out what’s REALLY going on.
Although Renee’s personal relationships often take a backseat for her job(s), all of them have been spared from being written in a fetishized or hypersexualized way. Vic Sage’s (the original Question) faith in her competence is quite refreshing, there is no implication that who she is or who she loves disqualifies her from maintaining such an important role in the DC Universe.
Gotham Central (2002-2006) – By Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
Batwoman: Elegy (2009-2010) – By Greg Rucka and J.H Williams III
52 (2006-2007) – By Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and Keith Giffen
The Question: The Five Books of Blood (2009) – By Greg Rucka
The Question: Pipeline (2011) – By Greg Rucka
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)