The queer world of the X-Men

By Erik Dussere

By Salon Staff
July 17, 2000 11:34PM (UTC)
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You missed the one very strong "gay metaphor" story line in the X-Men of late: the introduction of the Legacy virus, a virus that at first only killed mutants. The regular humans comment about it being a good thing, because who needs more mutants? And then suddenly, this mutant-only virus can be caught by regular people as well, and it's all those damn mutants' fault.

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The Legacy virus parallels' to the HIV/AIDS epidemic were uncomfortable to read to say the least, and by far the least subtle of the gay themes in the book. But it brought about some of my favorite issues of those books ever, so I suppose in comics, as in real life, difficult and uncomfortable situations demonstrate to us who the real heroes are, and aren't.

A gay fan of the X-Men,

-- Alex Darke

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The writer is absolutely right about the gay themes of the X-Men. Don't think for a minute the filmmakers doesn't know this. The director, Bryan Singer, is openly gay and Ian McKellen is a gay activist.

-- Rebekka Kai Taubman

For the most part, I would imagine Marvel Entertainment's head honchos are unaware how their writers have appropriated and continue to appropriate gay themes. The most forthright use of the metaphor isn't in the 1982 graphic novel Dussere read as an adolescent but the current "Children of the Atom" miniseries by writer Joe Casey.

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Incidentally, as the relatively well-adjusted teens in rival DC's comic "Legion of Superheroes" have also enjoyed a longstanding gay readership, I don't think it's purely the alienation themes that hold an attraction. But Dussere is right that all kids probably pick up on that feeling of alienation.

I do have a complaint about Dussere's piece. Saying the X-Men and other Marvel characters were created by Stan Lee denigrates the achievement of one of the great unknown pop artists of the 20th century, the cartoonist Jack Kirby. The only thing that most knowledgeable people question at this point is how much Lee may have been involved in Kirby's creations, not if Kirby contributed to Lee's.

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If X-Men is about fighting for those stripped of their rights, it would be nice if the general public afforded Kirby his artistic right to be recognized for what everyone -- except maybe Lee's press agent -- should recognize as, at the very least, Kirby's co-creations.

-- Tom Spurgeon

This article was one of the most flawed pieces of leftist rhetoric I have seen in quite a while. The author's weak attempt to draw a parallel between what the Jews and blacks have gone through with the homosexual agenda are not only insulting to Jews and blacks, they are insulting to basic human intelligence. I suggest you do a better job of reporting information, instead of being a conduit for the homosexual agenda.

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-- Jon Hartman


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