Y'all, I'm a comic book nerd. Or at least I used to be. And just might be again.
Growing up, I loved Marvel's X-Men because the characters not only had unique abilities that set them apart from the normal humans, but they were often hated and feared by the same humans they swore to protect. All for a slight difference in their genetic coding — nothing they could ever prevent.
As a precocious gay kid who realized his differences from his peers right around middle school (when mutants' powers tended to surface as well!), I identified far more with the merry band of mutant outlaws than I ever did with Marvel's hotshot champions of humanity, those boring do-gooders, the Avengers.
(Disclaimer: Please don't base these opinions off the movie franchises, as the terrible X-Men movies are not accurate representations of the comics they were based upon... The Avengers movie had the advantage of dork god Joss Whedon in its court.)
Luckily, somebody on the editorial staff at Marvel knew why these colorful stories appealed so much to the teased and bullied kids of the world, and they used their very public platform to tell the stories that kids like me needed to hear. These heroes fretted and fumed, had outbursts and plenty of hormones. They were like spandex-clad teenagers who just happened to also fly and shoot lasers from their eyes.
Then in 1992, in a dying X-Men spin-off series called Alpha Flight, comic book author Scott Lobdell — in a heavy-handed story that proved a smart gamble to boost lagging sales — revealed that one of the Canadian team's main characters, Jean-Paul Beaubier, AKA Northstar, was gay. And it was a game changer for mass market comic books.
While met with a controversial mix of reactions from the media, the superfast mutant Northstar's public outing was revolutionary (at least for the time) and opened the door for other gay and lesbian characters to populate other books throughout the Marvel universe.
Pretty soon, writers could talk about what has happening behind closed doors. Notorious shapeshifting X-villain Mystique was finally able to discuss her decades-old lesbian relationship with her precognitive partner, Destiny. Young AvengersHulkling and Wiccan hold hands openly in the panels of their comic book. And young X-Men Anole and Graymalkin can count Northstar as a gay role model.
Fast forward 10 years from that initial story and Marvel is finally taking another deliberate step forward in promoting marriage equality for gays and lesbians, announcing Northstar's engagement to his longtime boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu in the pages of Astonishing X-Men. It's an interracial, cross-species, gay wedding, so take THAT, Rick Santorum!
After being brainwashed by ninjas, killed by Wolverine, and later resurrected, Astonishing writer Marjorie Liu is finally giving Jean-Paul a much-deserved slice of happiness by devoting the next couple issues of the comic book to Jean-Paul and Kyle's evolving commitment to one another.
In issue #50, on sale Wednesday, May 23, Northstar will propose to Kyle, and issue #51 (out June 20) will feature their all-mutants-invited wedding ceremony in New York. Partly because that's where the couple lives, but also because gay marriage is allowed there, of course.
“The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window, so we strive to make sure our characters, relationships and stories are grounded in that reality,” said Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor-in-Chief, on their website. “We’ve been working on this story for over a year to ensure Northstar and Kyle's wedding reflects Marvel's 'world outside your window' tradition."
Chances are, if you're reading this long-time feminist and gay-friendly series, you accepted Northstar's sexuality a long time ago and have respected him for his bravery and his ability to kick bad guy ass when called upon. But for young gay kids reading these books, they can now see that they can grow up to be superheroes AND get married.
Of course, weddings have traditionally led to serious problems for partnered superheroes like fellow X-Men Phoenix and Cyclops and Spider-Man and Mary Jane. So here's to hoping that Kyle and Jean-Paul fare a little better than these couples...
Hopefully, Galactus won't crash next month's wedding and to try to eat the earth again. But even so, the combined might of Earth's most astonishing (and human) superheroes are sure to get these grooms hitched and save the day.