Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Gayness of Batman: a Brief History

"Gayness is built into Batman. ... Batman is very, very gay. There's just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he's intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay."

As we reported last week, this was the claim made by Batman, Incorporated writer Grant Morrison in an interview with Playboy where he offers his insights into the psychology of superheroes. In Morrison's view, Batman's attachment to Alfred and Robin and his alleged detachment from the women in "fetish clothes" who "jump around rooftops to get to him" is symptomatic of his conceptual gayness. That's a very selective framing, but as Morrison told the LA Times in 2010, "Batman can take anything. You can do comedy Batman, you can do gay Batman."

That's not true, of course. You can do comedy Batman, and you can do The Midnighter (Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch's openly gay Batman analogue), but DC Comics is unlikely to allow any writer to make Batman gay, even in an Elseworlds or alternate-universe story. As Morrison himself says, Batman is intended to be heterosexual. And yet there is a gayness to Batman, and it has been part of his identity since his earliest days.

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