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X-Men: Gayest. Comic. Ever.

What’s your favorite gay movie?”

My answer has been the same for a few years now. When said, the reaction is usually a sidelong, confused glance of curiosity, followed by an explanation how it couldn’t possibly be classified as a gay movie. And, on the occasion, the person asking the question will just smile, nod, and know exactly what I mean.


X2 Poster
My favorite gay movie of all time is X-Men 2.

 

Why X-Men? And why the sequel over the other two? Well, the entire trilogy is quite gay (yes, even the third film, in spite of Brett Ratner at the helm instead of out director Bryan Singer). The first deals with an anti-mutant politician, Senator Kelly, who, in the persecution of mutants, becomes one himself (cough cough Senator Larry Craig cough cough). The sequel deals with the over-zealous General Stryker and his plot to eradicate mutants from the face of the planet (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell much?) and the third film revolves around a “cure” that threatens to rid the mutants of their pesky genetic “otherness.”

 

Hmmm…that’s a pretty elaborate set of allegories for being, well…gay.

 

But the sequel gets the prize for it’s “coming out” scene, the mother of Bobby “Iceman” Drake actually asking, “have you tried…not being a mutant?,” the wonderful fag-hag relationship between Magneto and Mystique, where he tells Rogue he loves what she did with her hair, followed by Mystique giggling coyly (ouch, Rogue…you just got read), oh…and the whole “kill all the mutants for being different” theme. Don’t think that theme applies to the gay community? Too drastic? Attend a Republican Youth convention and see for yourself.

 

On second thought…don’t do that.

 

In any case, everyone has a story that he or she, at one time or another, gets into because it’s the one that relates most to them. A story not just being told to them, but one that’s being told about them. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy an onscreen kiss between two hot actors any less than the next gay man, but when talking about what makes a film “gay” or not…sometimes subtle allegories about fear, persecution, and otherness speak to me on a deeper level than two sexually conflicted cowboys making out in a tent…

 

My love of the X-Men films (I’m including the third…it’s a trilogy…I know they screwed up Dark Phoenix…I know, I cried too…thank you for your sympathy) springs from a love of the comic book, which I read as a kid, abandoned during high school, and recently rediscovered about a year ago. I’m a sucker for political allegory and clever social commentary, so when I picked up the Marvel Civil War crossover, good lord I got hooked again. Sign me up. Take my money. Tell me stories. I’m yours again, Marvel Comics. Picked up three X-Men titles and, much to my pleasant (lack of)XMen 100 surprise, X-Men was still really…gay.

 

You can make Batgirl a lesbian. You can put Superman in tight-ass spandex. You can apply the “secret identity” allegory to gays being in the closet all you want, but…like the movie…

 

X-Men is the gayest comic ever.

 

Different. Unnatural. Feared. Misunderstood. Persecuted.

 

All of these words have, at one time or another, been associated with the gay community. A community defined by their difference, their “otherness,” from the mainstream population. Misunderstood, feared, and inevitably persecuted, be it the self-righteous anti-gay legislation championed time after time by the religious right, or the brutality carried out far too often against members of the LGBT community.

 

Which is why I love X-Men so much.

 

Quite simply…they are us.

 

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the first issue in 1963 in the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement, and X-Men has been an allegory for persecution of minorities in America ever since. This allegory of X-Men can be extended to the black community (the ideologies of Professor X and Magneto have always been compared to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X), the Jewish community XMen 194(Magneto himself is a Holocaust survivor and in the “Days of Futures Past” storyline mutants are forced into concentration camps) and the gay community (multiple mutant “cure” storylines, fear from the general population, and a choice in superhero costume that comes down to either spandex or black leather…).

 

The X-Men, lik
e the gay community, is also an institution of diversity. The lineup of characters in the comic books through the years has included people from all over the world, people of all different colors, creeds, nationalities, and powers. A Kenyan Princess. A Russian behemoth. A German blue guy with a tail.

 

There is no one trait that defines what being a mutant is. Sure there is the presence of the “mutant gene,” but what does someone who can turn into ice have in common with a short hairy guy with claws, or a guy who shoots optic beams out of his eyes? The fact that they are defined by the mainstream as “other” is what brings them together, much like the LGBT community. The L’s may not have much in common with the B’s or the T’s, but it is this sense of community, driven by a common goal of equality, that brings us all together in spite of our differences.

 

So, as a gay geek who loves being told a good story, Iwill continue to read and enjoy comic books. They’re often dismissed as escapist fantasies, with no relevance to the world we’re living in. I couldn’t disagree more. I like to think of them as reflections of ourselves, commenting on our collective experience as a minority living in modern-day America. And like I said before…especially with X-Men…I’m a sucker for allegory.

 

 

 

X2 theatrical poster Copyright 20th Century Fox

XMen #100 and XMen #194 Copyright Marvel Comics

All rights Reserved.

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  1. Anonymous says
    November 16, 2010, 2:26 am

    Johnny: From a long time X-men Fan – that was a HOOT! Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a great article! Having been a fan since Uncanny X-Men #101 I did get the co-relation between being ‘gay’ and a ‘mutant’. Not sure I would classify X2 (or any of the X-Flicks) as a ‘gay’ film – if North Star made an appearance – maybe – I know Hugh was naked a lot – what gay man wouldn’t LOVE THAT? – but how bout ‘wanna be’ gay film? Or Bi-Curious film? I stopped collecting QUITE some time ago but did manage to pick up Astonishing X-Men for a bit – not sure how Emma got to be part of the team but its been a fun ride…

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