Batman has hit the screens for the summer. But word on the streets is there may be a bit of lightness in the Batman loafers this time. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course, why can’t there be a gay superhero. Probability would say that at least one of them would be. And don’t even get me started on who’s a lesbian. Let’s take a closer look at the history of Batman’s sexuality. This article was created by the team at TheToyzone.com for the benefit of their readers.

 


Way back in the '30s the main pasttime for the nation’s teens was the comic book. Literally hundreds of thousands of highly impressible teenagers would run down to the newsagents and tuck into their weekly installment of action and adventure.

As their imaginative muscles were being flexed were they being sold an altogether more sinister sub-context in the disguise of their favorite comic book hero?

The first writer to suggest that the superhero genre has a gay subtext was Gershon Legman in his 1949 polemic, Love And Death.

So What’s The Evidence That Batman Could Be Gay?

The Issue Of The Young Boy aka Robin


As shown in this extract from one of the earlier comics “Batman and Robin” shared the same bed. The relationship between Batman and Robin has often been cited as one of the strongest indicators for Batman’s homosexuality. The rumours of Batman’s possible sexuality spread throughout the comic book fraternity and still persists to this day.

In the new movie there is notably no Boy Wonder. Whilst this might be because the movie focuses on the early years of the Caped Crusader an another explanation circulating is that the movie makers have been reluctant to bring in Robin in an attempt to subdue longstanding rumours that Batman is gay.

The Films


 

Batman Forever: Of all the films that have been made in recent years the two that play heavily on Batman’s possible sexuality are “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin”. Many have described “Batman Forever” as having an unmistakable queer subtext. One example of which is where leather-jacketed Grayson snaps at Wayne, “Hang out at a lot of biker bars, Bruce?

LEATHER!... BIKERS! Come on guys what more gay evidence do we need?

Batman and Robin: With an IMDB rating of only 3.5 “Batman and Robin” is widely accepted to be the worst of all the Batman films. It has also been widely reported that George Clooney has offered paying punters their money back if they see him on the street; all they need to do is ask. In this trip to the big screen the bat suit was equipped with plastic nipples which did not help to stem the rumours of his sexuality.

The TV Series


In Batman’s first TV incarnation played by the now legendary Adam West the characters were seriously ‘camped up’ with lots of gay innuendo thrown in for good measure. Even the actor who played Robin said: “A mature man, unmarried and rarely seen in the company of women, takes a naive teenage boy under his wing… They share many secrets and spend long hours alone in remote areas… Holy homophobia!”

Robinson, a ghost writer on the original Batman, freely admitted there was a “tinge” of homoeroticism in those early Batman stories.


Most famously the scene of the climbing the sides of a building raised the most eyebrows. Many people have only watched the TV show and therefore most assume that Batman is a homosexual. However, as any Batman fan will tell you, the comics are where you will find the real ‘Batman.’

The Women In Batman’s Life:


Critics argue that the rumour of Batman’s homosexuality is further exacerbated by the fact that if an attractive girl enters his life she is by default the villain (Cat Woman and Poison Ivy for example.)

In 1948 a new character arrived on the scene in the shape of Vicki Vale who wanted to discover Batman’s secret identity. Vicki was described as “a new menace in Batman’s life” with most of her appearances only leading to problems for Batman. With most women in Batman being either villains or hindrances many argue that most of the women passing through his life are beards to protect his secret sexuality.


The Argument That Batman Is Not Gay

Is Batman A Pedophile?


The idea of Batman being gay primarily stems from Bruce Wayne sharing his life with Robin. In the context of the 1940s it was not uncommon for an orphan to be looked after by a rich adult. You may argue that the whole idea of a ward/guardian relationship was merely a smokescreen to disguise the homosexual relationship between Batman and Robin, but the problem with this notion is that it would not just be a homosexual relationship; it would be a criminal relationship!

So if we assume that Bruce Wayne does have a sexual relationship with Robin, we must therefore conclude that Batman is a paedophile and thus performing a heinous crime. Batman has declared a war on crime; so how could he accept child molestation?

Michael Chabon also argues that the reason behind the use of the body sidekick was to appeal to a generation of kids whose fathers had gone to war rather than a homosexual signal added by the creators.

Hiding A Secret

When looking at Batman we also need to ask the question “Is Bruce Wayne gay?” - The use and abuse of women, young boy relationships and obsessions with old men (Alfred…) all point to two possible conclusions:

1. Bruce Wayne is gay and therefore so is Batman
2. Or he is hiding the fact that he is a superhero

One could argue that many of Bruce Wayne’s ‘trapped in the closet’ characteristics could actually be put down to the fact that he is hiding his superhero identity rather than his sexual identity.

Lack Of Hard Evidence

The now famous “Seduction of Innocence” by Frederick Stretham was the first to bring popular appeal to the idea that Batman may be gay. He suggested that the comics could lead impressionable teenagers astray by indicating the way Batman behaved was the norm and lead them on the path to homosexuality. Now looking back at Frederick’s arguments in the 21st century we find it hard to accept them as solid proof that Batman is gay.

Stretham states the following reasons for Batman being gay:

1. They live in sumptuous quarters
2. Beautiful flowers in large vases
3. Have a butler
4. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown

Whilst such ‘luxuries’ might be seen as only available to gay socialites in the 1940s, most modern heterosexuals might find wearing a dressing gown does not question their sexuality (much!). We must remember that Stretham did not explicitly state that Batman and Robin were gay but just suggested a homoerotic atmosphere permeated the comics.

The main conclusion of his work was that the evidence that Batman may be gay does not lead to a cut and dry answer.

Recently

Recently the issue of a ‘gay Batman’ hit the front pages with the arrival of Mark Chamberlain’s provocative representations:


DC Comics has taken offence to Chamberlain’s work and has ordered Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts gallery in New York to take down every single image or face legal consequences.

Conclusion

We need to remember that Batman is not a human being, he’s a fictional character. Like many of you, I love the character, but he isn’t a real person whose sexuality can be determined one way or another. To the extent that he HAS a sexual orientation, it is one dictated by whoever is portraying him at a given moment.


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Review of The Dark Knight, by Noel Vera






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July 25, 2008