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
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.
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:
live in sumptuous quarters
flowers in large vases
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 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.
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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Note: Thanks to TheToyzone.com for allowing us to post the article. Visit TheToyzone.com for more.
Review of The Dark Knight, by Noel Vera