Doctor Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman has said that it’s time we see a greater number of LGBT superheroes on television.
“It’s blind casting, and we’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time. And thank God it’s here,” John told the Advocate. John Barrowman currently plays the role of Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer in the American TV series The Flash (which started airing in the USA October 2014).
Asked if he believes American audiences were ready to see a gay superhero star in their own series he replied, “Personally, I don’t care if they are, or not. It’s time we had one.”
Both the Flash and Arrow (which are based on the characters created by DC Comics) have been rather bold of their portrayal of LGBT characters. The Flash recently introduced audiences to the Pied Piper supervillain, who happens to be the first supervillain to appear in a TV series based on a mainstream comic book who is gay. Pied Piper was also one of the first openly gay characters in DC comics back in the late 80’s.
“It’s great,” says Grant Gustin, the actor who portrays The Flash, when he was asked his thoughts on the diversity in the series. “That’s just kind of how TV should be now in 2015, to be honest.”
“It’s sad to me that it has to be a brave thing to bring a character like that on television,” adds Danielle Panabaker, the actress who plays as Dr. Caitlin Snow in the series. “But I love that we’re doing it.”
Arrow, a TV series based on the Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow (a rich vigilante who fights for justice) has been on air since the fall of 2012, and just last year debuted the character Sara Lance/Black Canary. She was introduced as TV’s first bisexual superhero. “It’s nice that they put that stuff in the show and if that’s helping to sort of ground break in anyway then that’s great,” said actor Paul Blackthrone who plays as Quentin Lance from the series.
As we discussed in issue 14 of Pride Life, the number of LGBT comic book characters has grown exceptionally in the past decade or so. The Comic Code Authority, or CCA for short (an authority formed due to the public outcry over violent comic content) had slowed down the introduction of LGBT characters into comics until 2011, when DC, Marvel and Archie Comics abandoned them following their guidelines.
Certain comic characters have had multiple iterations or versions, for example, there have been two versions of Batwoman. The original Batwoman was Kathy Kane and she was first introduced back in 1956, and was romantically attracted to Batman. But with the new Batwoman, Kate Kane (introduced in 2006) this changed, and she was revealed to be a lesbian.
Marvel comics isn’t being left behind in its portrayal of LGBT community, and in Astonishing X-Men issue 51, Northstar married his long term boyfriend Kyle.
Another X-Men mainstay character, Mystique, was revealed to be bisexual and has recently started a lesbian relationship with Destiny.
DC Comics senior Vice President and Executive Editor Dan DiDio stated “It was from conversations we’ve had for expanding the DC Universe, for look at levels of diversity. We wanted to have a cast that is much more reflective of today’s society and even today’s fanbase.”