Is Batman Gay? Part II
By Alan Donald
Before I begin this article I feel I should make something clear. You may find that I am talking in generalities, there is a reason. This isn't laziness, I just honestly don't think that individual examples would be helpful for this article. Why? Quite simply, I'm not interested in finding one specific example of Batman acting "gaily". Individual examples are subject to a writer's whim and often even the best editors let continuity problems slip through. What I want is a gestalt view, simply the feel that myself and others take from the sum total of the modern Batman mythos.
Let's make one thing clear here: we are in no way making any linkages between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of young boys. This is an assertion that has been made before but it, in our opinion, is untrue and unfair. Our comments and observations are specific to Batman alone and not homosexuality in general, especially when it comes to the Robins.
Craig basically wants me to write: "Batman's a shit stabber, if he isn't shagging the Robins now, he once was. Barbara Gordon and Dinah got it on after they finally met. Batman's anger comes from sexual repression, maybe impotence. Dick Grayson swings both ways. Alfred....well, "Master Bruce", that just says it all. And don't get me started on Jason Todd. Jason Todger more like. They're all a bunch of...". Thanks, Craig. All joking aside, we have a number of points to consider:
1) The concept of a secret identity. While this is practical and has a firm reason, there's more to it. 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. This was especially true when homosexuality was illegal.
2) The uniform. Skin-tight and deliberately attenuating his 'assets'. The drama of the cape combined with the near-nakedness of the body suit could be conceived as being highly sexual. Dramaticism and drama in general have often been linked to homosexuality. As to why this is, this isn't for me to say - perhaps it is because a homophobic society has forced gay people to become good actors. One thing is clear - a camp dramatic-style has long been part of male homosexual culture, as have sexual skin-tight outfits.
3) The violence. This isn't something most people associate with homosexuality, except, perhaps, repressed sexual frustration. This will be explored more fully later in the behaviour section of this article.
4) Lack of commitment. The only people Batman develops close relationships with are male. There are only two female characters that Batman has any long term commitment to: (a) Dr. Leslie Thompkins; (b) Barbara Gordon. Dr Thompkins is a surrogate mother figure to Bruce, and as for Barbara? Well, there's nothing to say that gay men can't have any female friends, in fact, quite the opposite. What I am examining here is different - Batman didn't invite Barbara into his life, she forced her way in. Time and time again, Barbara has made her presence felt. This is a marked difference to the Robins and even Azrael, whom Batman openly invited into his home and "inner sanctum". The new Batgirl is an oddifty - Bruce's relationship with her is a distant one, she even lives with Barbara. Shondra Kinsolving and Vicki Vale do dirty the water somewht, admittedly. But Shondra we have to remove from the mix due to her mental health, but where is Vicki? Gone. Forget the strain of a secret identity, to be honest, it seems clear that Batman finds it difficult to commit to a long-term, close relationship with a female partne
5) Behaviour. While Batman doesn't camp it up to the level of Graham Norton (see http://www.channel4.com or Carrie Fisher's website as he's her favourite gay presenter), not all homosexual males mince, or are even slightly camp. We have just discussed Batman's relationships (or lack thereof) with women, but what about his general behaviour? I don't believe Batman is actively homosexual, and I don't believe that he has had many partners. Bruce's adoption of Dick was an act of altruism and compassion for a kindred spirit, and despite the highly sexual costume, I don't believe that anything happened between them. Tim Drake is another capable and intelligent young man, who Batman admires greatly and perhaps is attracted to on some level, yet I believe once more that nothing overt has happened. Whilst I believe that at most Bruce was attracted to Dick, Craig thinks that at the very least theirs was an unrequited love affair. One thing is clear - Batman is overtly homosexual, in fact he may even deny it to himself, which leads us to think about the violence in his life. Does Bruce use violence as a replacement for sex? Is that therefore why he wears the sexual costume and goes out looking for fights, accompanied by his partner?
6) Jason Todd. Conspicuously absent from all discussion so far, Jason was the second Robin. Jason, more than anything, stands out for simply being dead. Jason has gained a new sobriquet from the discussions Craig and I had: Rent Boy Robin. Basically we've been forced to conclude that in our belief that Batman is one accepts the possibility that Batman is gay, you must also conclude that Jason Todd was once his lover, and perhaps the only sexual partner Batman ever had. Jason Todd was a street-smart rough-and-ready kid. Jason had had to learn how to live on the streets, and make a living. He met Batman when he tried to steal the wheels from the Batmobile. Jason appeared older than Dick, and Batman's relationship with him was quite different. Jason and Bruce argued, not like father and son, but more like a lovers tiff. Pictures of the two of them working out (in Death in the Family for example) paint an extremely homoerotic portrait. Jason died, and Batman was hurt. Natural even for a close friend, but Batman's reaction was far more akin to the loss of a lover.
So, is Batman gay? Well, of course he is. And, of course he isn't. I don't believe that any writer has specifically ever set out to make Batman gay, they just set out to enhance the existing mythos. The fact is, Batman has expanded well beyond his origins, and far beyond the whim of any individual creator. This is mainly because no individual writer is allowed to do too much to Batman, only add to what exists. What this really means is that any reader can feel free to take what they want to from the mythos.
What of the supporting cast?
1) Dick Grayson. Bruce Wayne's son/lover/unrequited partner. Dick has had numerous female partners, but none of these have ever lasted, and, in fact, he has been known to try and avoid women. Probably bi-sexual or straight then.
2) Tim Drake. The completely straight-laced third Robin. The biggest queer of the lot, or completely straight? The jury is out on Tim, mainly because of his age. I personally take him as being straight.
3) Barbara Gordon. After the recent picture of her and Black Canary in Birds of Prey embracing, there's no doubt in my mind she is at least bi-sexual. Even with this put to one side, Barbara's behaviour towards Dinah and the new Batgirl is suggestive of more than a 'normal' degree of female affection.
4) Jim Gordon. Straight as a die.
5) Alfred. Jury is out, probably masturbates himself into a frenzy down in the Bat-Cave whilst Bruce is on patrol.
6) Batgirl. I don't think she even knows herself.
7) Joker. Beyond sex, the Joker takes what he wants, whether male or female.
8) Two-Face...Harvey was straight, but what about his alter ego? Well, everything about the character Two-Face indicates he has two diametrically opposed sides in everything he does - therefore his Harvey half is straight, and his Two-Face side must be gay.
9) Catwoman. Huge amounts of pent up sexual drive and aggression here. Though not as mad as the Joker, Catwoman has something in common with him - I believe she takes what she wants, when she wants it - male or female.
10) Harley Quinn. Aside from the Joker, she's a raving homosexual and we all know it.
11) Poison Ivy. Man, woman, plant, she doesn't care.
12) Superman. Mr. Hetrosexual. Supes doesn't even reaslise that there is another way. He doesn't understand Batman as it is, if we add sexual intrigue to the mix, poor old Clark doesn't stand a chance.
So, why the article? To make you think. To provoke a reaction. To prove just how involved and durable the mythos is. I could have equally presented a case that Batman is straight, but that wouldn't have been any fun. What's the correct answer? There is none, except for that which you provide yourself. Enjoy your Batman reading,
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