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The Iceman Cometh Out: Marvel's Smart Take On Accepting Sexual Identity


The Interplay is a special biweekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

Yesterday, word broke that a young Bobby Drake, transported to the future at the beginning of Marvel’s All New X-Men, was actually one of Marvel’s few gay, active superheroes. Fans were sent reeling by the revelation, considering the older Iceman’s storied history of being a ladies’ man and Jean Grey’s suggestion that the older Bobby was, (probably) still straight. In readers’ defense, some of the confusion was understandable.

Unlike other alternate versions of fan-favorite characters who are revealed to be gay, this version of Iceman wasn’t from an alternate reality or timeline. Rather, this teenaged Bobby Drake was simply from the past and he was outed by a Jean Grey who, in her time, didn’t yet have access to her telepathy. Technically speaking this Bobby is the same one that we’ve known all along. 

Speaking to MTV News, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained the editorial decision to out young Iceman as being gay. According to Alonso the plot twist isn’t just a narrative stunt or Marvel attempting to meet a diversity quota.

“It was our subsequent conversations about what the next story would be that really sold me,” Alonso explained. “This is a character with decades of history, and one who we’ve seen falter on the romantic stage — more than once. So the seeds were always there.”

The “seeds” that Alonso is describing are a few decades’ worth of failed relationships with women that Bobby, try as he might’ve, simply couldn’t maintain. Magneto’s daughter Polaris, Mystique, Kitty Pryde, and a human woman named Opal who attempted to trick Bobby into fatherhood make up his extensive roster of a romantic rogues gallery. Before, it was easy to look at Iceman’s dating history as a whole now, and see a stereotypical casanova. With these new assertions (and discrepancies) about his sexuality, though, Marvel is addressing sexual identity in a much more interesting and authentic way. 



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Iceman, One Of The Founding X-Men, Comes Out As Gay

Screenshot 2015-04-21 10.49.35

In 2012 Marvel comics launched the All New X-Men, a new series centered around Charles Xavier’s first five students who would eventually become the original X-Men. Teenaged versions of Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman and Jean Grey are transported into the future and forced to face the decisions their future selves have made. Cyclops struggles to accept his future as a murderer and social pariah, Jean Grey--who becomes the Phoenix--copes with the fact that she no longer exists, and Beast fights to understand the secondary mutation that appears to be killing him.

In tomorrow’s issue of the All New X-Men it’s revealed that Robert “Bobby” Drake (Iceman) is also working to cope with a future that he doesn’t quite understand. This version of Bobby, Jeans discovers, is actually gay--despite the fact that his future self isn’t.

Check out the big reveal in the leaked panels below AFTER THE JUMP

(h/t Advocate)

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Is An LGBT Superhero Film Far Off?


Comic book fans had lots to rejoice about yesterday when Marvel Studios announced its upcoming slate of new films. In addition to sequels for the critically and commercially successful Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy films, Marvel is making history with its first film led by a black superhero, Black Panther, and its first anchored by a female, Captain Marvel.

ThorIt’s just the latest move coming out of comic book culture, where publishers have been redefining mainstream heroes as a more diverse bunch. Many of the familiar (straight, white, male) characters — most of which got their start decades ago — are being joined by a growing number of heroes that reflect a richer representation. In addition to the female Captain Marvel, Marvel’s also recently started publishing series focusing on a female Thor, a black Captain America and a wildly successful book based on a Muslim American teenager, Ms. Marvel.

This surge in inclusivity extends to LGBT characters as well. From lesbian crimefighter Batwoman to young mutant Benjamin Deeds, there’s a growing number of queer mainstream characters that could become the next Batman, Wolverine or the Flash, conquering the box office or leading a television series.

“As pop culture goes, it's never been hotter to be a geek,” wrote Jono Jarrett, a founding board member of GeeksOUT, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBT inclusiveness in the geek community. “Politically, across the world queer visibility and acceptance are on the rise—or where it's not, it's being challenged like never before.”

With this momentum on and off the page, could it be long before we see an LGBT superhero take the spotlight on the large or small screen?

Learn more about the state of queer characters in comic books today, AFTER THE JUMP

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Why Did Singapore's Anti-Gay Censors Ban Archie's Gay Wedding And Not Northstar's


Earlier this month, state media censors in Singapore banned a 2012 Life With Archie comic book for “promoting alternative lifestyles or deviant sexual practices” through the same-sex marriage of its gay character Kevin Keller.

But surprisingly, the same censors have not banned an Astonishing X-Men issue which features the same-sex marriage of the gay superhero Northstar.

Why not? Channel News Asia quotes a spokesperson from the Singapore Media Development Board:

“The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language. While themes may seem similar on the surface, depictions and context often vary across different works…

“The issue featured characters who objected to the wedding and this offered a balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage.”

The Board goes onto say that the censorship even though they did not outright ban the X-Men comic, they have advised that it be "shrink-wrapped and labelled with the consumer advice 'Unsuitable for the Young.'"

Bryan Singer Teases 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Movie Treatment


Bryan Singer posted his very first Instagram photo to Twitter yesterday; suffice it to say that the picture was rather apocalyptic.

It would seem as if development of X-Men: Apocalypse, the sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past, is well under way. The photo confirms 20th Century Fox President of Production Emma Watts’s recent assertion that Singer is definitely slated to be a very large part of the project. Singer’s involvement in Fox’s future installments of the X-Men franchise came under question after he dropped out of all press engagements for Days of Future Past in the wake of sexual abuse allegations earlier this year.

'Star Wars' Actor Sir Alec Guinness Begged Ian McKellen Not To Speak About Anything ‘As Dirty As Homosexuality’

Ian mckellen says alec guinness was a self loathing bisexual

Speaking at a June 25 gala dinner for LGBTI Pride hosted by London’s Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf, Ian McKellen said that Star Wars actor Sir Alec Guinness begged him not to campaign for gay rights.

In a recent interview alongside Patrick Stewart with British TV's Channel 4, McKellen compared the mutants in the X-Men movies to gays, black people and Jews treated harshly by “a society that doesn’t completely understand them.”

Guinness, who is probably best known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, is reported to have had male partners and to have been arrested in 1946 for a public sex act, despite being married.

Speaking at the historic event, held for the first time in the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House, McKellen alluded to his fellow actor’s bisexuality:

“Alec Guinness took me out to lunch and said: ‘You really should not, as a leading actor, have anything to do with anything political, especially anything as dirty as homosexuality. I beg you not to do it.’ That was self-hatred.”

McKellen also said that his wish for the future is for a professional British soccer player to come out as gay, adding: “My preference is that he is cute.”

Woolf, who is only the second female Lord Mayor of London since 1189, has dedicated her year in office to promoting diversity. Speaking about the historic significance of an LGBTI dinner being held in Mansion House, she said:

“This is a clear statement of intent by the mayoralty and the City of London Corporation. Our responsibility is to capture the benefits of diversity for the city and for business. The business case is clear and the moral case is obvious. To be yourself and not someone you are not is a human right.”

Eurovisioner winner Conchita Wurst will headline the main Pride event in London's Trafalgar Square tomorrow.

Watch the Channel 4 interview with McKellen and Stewart, AFTER THE JUMP...

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