Is Batman Gay? - The Response
Editor's Note: Silver Soapbox has been running a little under two years now, a forum for any of our readers to express an opinion or position that may not otherwise have been 'print'. One of the earliest columns ( at this link: http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/soapbox/97999671077236.htm ) discussed homosexuality in the Bat-books, under the title "Is Batman Gay?". The column finished with a request to think about it, and get back to the author with a response - here's Charles Williams' response to that question.
Growing up as a little boy, I watched Batman with a detailed eye. Everything he would do; I would emulate. I guess that is the reason why I am a Police Officer. I even got a tattoo of the Batman symbol on my ankle. Batman represents the good in society. He stands for everything I want to be as a person and as a Police Officer. He is strong and determined. He always does the right thing. He always catches the bad guy. Who else would be better for a little boy to want to be like? To my surprise, some view my hero as a homosexual.
Call me homophobic or call me what you will, but Batman is not gay. There are many writers that think otherwise. Their evidence of this claim is not convincing. Maybe I view Batman as the ultimate man and believe in a childish way he can’t be gay or that the writers that think he is gay are not avid fans like myself. I asked a couple of my friends if they thought Batman was gay. Their common response was shock. It was hard for me to believe that a man who protects Gotham City in such a radical way may have a feminine side. To my dismay some think Batman is gay like Alan Donald, who wrote the original article. Donald states in his article six reasons why he feels Batman is gay. They include Batman’s secret identity, his uniform, the violence, his lack of commitment to women, Batman’s behavior and his partner Robin. None of Donald’s arguments hold up to any debate about the issue.
First some feel Batman is gay because of his secret identity. Alan Donald states, "Many homosexuals have, at least in the past, had to lead a secret life or to have a secret identity, to hide what they are." Donald claims the idea that Batman is gay because he conceals his identity. Batman has a secret identity because everyone wants a piece of the action. In the first Batman movie, a big time Photojournalist, Vicki vale came to Gotham City to get a photo of Batman. Her entire role in the movie was obsessed with getting his picture. The fact that a man wants his privacy doesn’t mean he’s gay. For example, the WWE wrestler known as Kaine wears a mask. He does this because he wants to be a wrestler but doesn’t want the fame that comes with it. Batman also conceals his identity because in the first movie, directed by Tim Burton, he is on the wrong side of the law. Batman is wanted by the police for questioning. He conceals his identity so police don’t hound him. Let’s face it, Batman doesn’t do justice by the book. With his identity unknown, he strikes more fear in the heart of the bad guys because he can do anything to them and get away with it. If he kills one of them, he doesn’t have to explain himself and sit at headquarters filling out eight hours of paperwork. Batman being unknown to people makes him mysterious and makes the bad guys fear him more.
The bat suit has been described as tights. Leora Broydo said, "[Batman and Robin] Both wear tights." She alludes to the idea that this makes them gay. Tights most of the time are associated with a dancer who is viewed as a woman or a flaming homosexual. Alan Donald believes that it is part of the homosexual culture for men to wear sexual skin-tight outfits. Batman’s attire is tight for a reason. It is just like a lineman on a football team; the tighter the jersey the less an opponent has to grab onto. It is well known in professional football that the linemen wear especially tight jerseys. Sometimes it takes two other people to help the lineman put on his jersey. This is for a good reason. This helps prevent the opponent from getting the upper hand in the trenches. Batman’s uniform is a tool, like his belt. The suit deflects bullets and acts as a heat shield which was shown in action on Batman Forever. Along with his fighting skills, Batman also has a variety of tools he uses to gain the upper hand on the bad guy. As an avid viewer of the movies, I have seen his equipment save his life many times. Batman does not wear tights. He wears body armor.
Some feel Batman is gay because he likes to fight. The theory is that he has a lot of pent-up sexual frustration because he is not outwardly gay so he takes it out on the bad guys. I don’t know of anything else that is more manly than fighting. Children in elementary school fight all the time. If they don’t get what they want, they fight for it. Children learn that fighting is wrong, but it is one of the most manly things children learn to do, especially little boys. I have never seen Batman beat a man to death to the point that he is out of control. If Batman couldn’t control himself in a fight, I could see how this theory could be considered. When Batman fights, he is very methodical and to the point. He doesn’t show off or go overboard. He defeats his enemy as quickly as he can because there is always another bad guy waiting for him. Besides how would a super-hero fight crime if he didn’t fight?
Another reason why Batman is looked upon as gay is his lack of commitment to women. There are several good reasons for this. The first is safety. If he were to get married, he would have to tell his wife. By telling someone else who he really is he would put them in harm’s way. Batman doesn’t want a long-term relationship because it would jeopardize him and Robin. Anyway, the fact that a man that is not married and is unsure of marriage doesn’t mean he is gay. I’m not married and I don’t ever want to get married, but I’m not gay. Many men have a problem with commitment. There are so many questions. Is she the right one? Will it last? Is there someone else out there better for me? It is very manly and very stereotypical of a man that is not ready to commit to one girl. Bruce Wayne has many assets he has to protect, namely the billion plus he controls; if he were to get married to the first woman that shows interest in him, he would then have to split everything he has if it didn’t work out. Batman is not gay; he is picky about the women he is with and for good reason.
Batman’s behavior around women has caught people’s attention. Because he gets nervous around women, some think he’s gay. David Wyatt said, "As Batman, Bruce was completely tongue-tied whenever villain Cat-Woman ever suggested anything remotely sexual." If I had a woman who wanted to kill me, I would be a little tongue-tied too. Besides Cat-Woman is the enemy; he can’t have a relationship with a woman who is trying to take over the city. Batman has been seen in bed with Vicki Vale, the photojournalist in the first Batman movie. In the second movie, he had sexual frustrations from Cat-Woman. In the third movie he had a relationship with Nicole Kidman’s character, the psychologist who thought she was in love with Batman. She turned down Batman because she fell in love with Bruce Wayne. In Batman Forever, Batman comes to her house. She tells Batman that she is in love with someone else. Batman turns away to leave and smiles because he is glad that she loves Bruce Wayne and not Batman. In the last movie Uma Thurman’s character Poison Ivy tries relentlessly to get under Batman’s cape. Batman sees threw it and knows there is something up. At one point in the movie Batman And Robin, Batman has to save Robin from Poison Ivy before she gives him the kiss of death. Throughout all the movies that Warner Brothers has made, Batman has a history of relationships with women. They appear to be the wrong kind of woman for Batman. I get nervous around women, but I am not gay.
Lastly some feel that Batman’s partner Robin is gay and that they have a secret relationship. Some think it is funny that an older man lets a young boy move in with him. Freya Johnson said, "They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred." Johnson believes this is a trait of gay men. Some have jumped to the conclusion that Batman is gay and that Robin is his sexual companion. I don’t think this is true. Dick Greyson moving in with Bruce Wayne worked for the better. Batman obtained a partner, Robin, whom Batman needed because, instead of just fighting one bad guy, now he is fighting two or more at one time. If Robin wasn’t there for Batman, we would have never had a third movie. Robin has saved Batman’s life several times, and the opposite is true too. They make a good crime-fighting team. I have never seen anything remotely sexual take place between Batman and Robin in the movies. Robin is not gay, and if he is it certainly does not make Batman gay.
I believe I have come across the reason why some think Batman may be gay. Stephen Winick wrote Batman in the Closet: a New York Legend. This urban legend that was spread rapidly throughout the college campuses in the New York area is about a man dressed like Batman raping young college men. The story goes along the lines of an attractive female luring a young man back to an apartment. She tells the young man she likes kinky sex. The college kid lets himself be tied up with the promise that good sex will follow. Stephen Winick then stated, "At this point, the woman opens the closet, and an enormous black man in a Batman suit jumps out and rapes the helpless student." With this urban legend, the reader must consider the possibility that many of the reasons they think Batman is gay could have spawned from this story.
In all fairness to the matter at hand, Alan Donald stated, "The question we first really have to address is which Batman we are talking about." It is true that the sitcom Batman that was made in the 1960s has many more questions raised about Batman’s sexuality than do the recent movies made by Warner Brothers. It was Warner Brother’s intention when making the recent Batman movies to not let Batman be construed as gay. Jerome Charyn pointed out that, in the first Batman movie, "Hollywood wouldn’t even allow him (Batman) to have his boy assistant, fearing that Robin might contaminate Batman, give him an ambiguous sexuality."
It is clear that I don’t think Batman is gay. First, it doesn’t make him gay because he wants his privacy. Next, Batman wears body armor not tights. Batman does not have any pent-up sexual frustration. He has plenty of women. Also, because he is picky about his women does not mean he is gay. Batman’s behavior around women is not that different from most normal men. Some men just plain get nervous around women, this does not in turn calculate them to be gay. Finally Robin is not gay. Robin’s sexual preference has no effect on Batman regardless. Everything that I have written leads to the logical conclusion that Batman is not gay.
Broydo, Leora. "Mojo Outs Cartoon Land." 16 Feb. 2002. http://monster-island.org/tinashumor/humor/gaycartoon.html (26 July 2002).
Charyn, Jerome. "Behind the Silver Screen." Unesco Courier Apr. 1993: 40+. Tennessee Electronic Library (27 July 2002).
Donald, Alan. "Is Batman Gay? Part II." http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/soapbox/97999671077236.htm
Johnson, Freya. "Holy Homosexuality Batman!: Camp and Corporate Capitalism in Batman Forever." Dec. 1995. http://eserver.org/bs/23/johnson.html (26 July 2002).
Winick, Stephen. "Batman in the Closet: a New York Legend." http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~swinick/Batman/Batman1.html (26 July 2002).
Wyatt, David A. "Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Television Characters." http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/tv-characters.html (25 July 2002).
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