#LoveWins: Past, Present, and Future for Queer Couples in Comics
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 that the American Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to get married. Twitter went up in rainbow splashes of celebration in the #LoveWins tag and a myriad of ignorant tweets — the tweets from disgruntled folks saying they were going to move to Canada of all places were particularly amusing. Facebook started a new trend of changing profile icons to one with an overlay of the rainbow. Tumblr’s trending topics were marriage equality and gay marriage for hours. One couple who runs a popular comic book store, Red Pegasus Comics and Games in Dallas, Texas, tweeted their own plans to get married and went viral in hours.
There’s been much discussion on and here we wanted to highlight the various comic couples that have gotten married, engaged, or have that “maybe” in their future.
Mystique and Destiny were never able to “officially” come out on the early pages of X-men under Chris Claremont’s pen. Even so, Claremont added as much subtext as possible to assure readers, yes, they were a couple. They acted as parents to both Rogue and Nightcrawler, and Destiny’s love for Mystique is one of the latter’s most defining aspects of her history. Hopefully Marvel will remember Mystique’s bisexuality, and we’ll see the return of Destiny one day.
Karolina Dean/Xavin & Karolina/Julie Power
Xavin and Karolina were aliens promised to each other by their parents in an alien alliance to prevent war. An updated version of medevil romance novels with arranged marriages as a plot point. Karolina, an out lesbian, was initially upset by her supposed fate since Xavin first appeared as a man. However, Xavin considered themselves genderfluid, and changed their gender from male to female in order to be with Karolina. The storyline probably doesn’t hold up as well today, but their relationship is filled with genuine feeling and sincerity. Unfortunately Xavin, to protect Karolina, shapeshifts into looking like Karolina and is taken off world.
We haven’t heard or seen Xavin since, but Karolina has found new love with Avengers Academy attendee Lightspeed, the bisexual flying powerhouse. Maybe one day — hopefully — we’ll see the return of Xavin whether they and Karolina rekindle their romance or not.
Rictor was a self-hating, closeted mutant who had been long-time friends with Shatterstar, a dimension hopping, former 90s ponytail wearing, mega-warrior. In the pages of X-Factor, the two began and continued a long-term romantic relationship. Battling with Rictor’s depression and self-hate, along with the various zany adventures of the X-Factor squad, the couple proved to be thoroughly dedicated to each other through thick and thin. When Marvel rebooted their line with All New Marvel, X-Factor officially ended and the two haven’t appeared much since. Even so, I’d love to see these two get married sometime in the future.
Billy Kaplan, and Teddy Altman appeared in Young Avengers, and much like Apollo and Midnighter the implications of their relationship was played around with. It was obvious they were a couple, without making it “obvious.” Through the entire Young Avengers run Billy and Teddy go through a series of ups and downs as a teenager superhero super couple. Teddy eventually proposes to Billy, and their love even saves the universe.
If Marvel remembers them again, we might get to see that proposal culminate into a real life marriage.
Apollo and Midnighter were characters originally in Stormwatch, a team of vigilantes who weren’t restricted by the “no kill” rule of the Justice League. Operating on an alternate Earth, Apollo and Midnighter’s relationship was kept low profile during Warren Ellis’ run until it was revealed they were actually a couple. The two continued their journey as no-holds bars superheroes, eventually getting married and adopting a child together.
Currently in the DC New 52 Apollo and Midnighter are separated, but according to current writer Steve Orlando, there’s hope for their reconciliation yet. Maybe a few years down the line, if DC ever lifts their marriage ban, we’ll see another wedding for the two in the future.
Kate Kane/Renee Montoya, Kate Kane/Maggie Sawyer
Kate Kane has a brilliantly ironic history, in that she was originally created to act as a buffer to combat the accusations that Batman and his partner Robin were gay. Eventually Kate herself comes out as a lesbian, and enters a relationship with Renee Montoya. Together they became one of the most popular same-sex couples in mainstream comics before being retconned in the New 52. All hope is not lost however, as Kate Kane entered a relationship with Gotham City Detective Maggie Sawyer, and the two even ended up engaged. Unfortunately due to DC’s “marriage ban,” Kate and Maggie were stuck in a seemingly never ending engagement. Hopefully DC will see the error of their ways and we’ll see wedding bells in Kate and Maggie’s future.
As for Renee, she was recently reintroduced into the New 52 universe in the latest Detective Comics. Kate wasn’t her only partner — though undoubtedly her most well known — Renee was also in a long-term relationship with Daria during the original run of Gotham City Central. Perhaps we’ll see the return of Daria in the future.
Northstar was one of the first gay comic characters to ever “come out” on page. He’s also one of the most queer famous under Marvel’s roster. Originally a member of the Canadian superhero group known as Alpha Flight, Northstar eventually joined the X-men where he developed a short crush on fellow teammate Bobby Drake (irony?) and was even implied to have a one-night stand with powerhouse Hercules. However after meeting Kyle Jinadu, the two entered into a committed relationship, and eventually were married. They are currently still happily married, if absent in Marvel’s current universe.
Kevin Keller/Clay Walker
Kevin Keller is known as the first character within the long-running Archie series to ever come out. A former Army lieutenant, Kevin’s coming out was a huge milestone in comics, as was his marriage to Army doctor Clay Walker.
These are only some of the queer couples that have made an impact in comic book history. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are officially a couple in Harley Quinn’s solo — though not a monogamous one. In Jem and the Holograms Stormer and Kimber have just begun their romantic relationship. Selina Kyle has dated both men and women, and she’s been married to Batman in alternate universes so marriage for her is never off the table. Constantine might have a future romance with cute bartender Oliver in future Hellblazer issues…
What’s important to remember that marriage isn’t the end all be all for queer couples. Some queer couples want to get married, and it’s fantastic that they now can in America. Some queer couples, or individuals, have no interest in marriage and that’s fine too. In terms of media representation, it’s important that we showcase characters that want to get married, and ones that don’t, to represent real queer people.
Take the cast of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Kimber and Stormer. The former couple has an open, but committed relationship. Harley and Ivy love each other, they have an active sex life, and are each others emotional support, but they’re both fine with dating other people. Their non-monogamous relationship doesn’t invalidate their romantic relationship. Where as Kimber and Stormer are in a monogamous romantic relationship that’s in its budding stages. Navigating through the tides of being rival band members, in an updated — and much more interesting — Romeo and Juliet scenario. They want to be with only each other, and the prospect of marriage seems like a possibility for both characters in the future. The relationships between both couples is very different, and should be. We need the presentation of differing romantic relationships between queer characters in our media.
It’s important that we look at this achievement in marriage equality as the milestone that it is; to respect and remember the battles fought before it, and to acknowledge that the fight for equality isn’t over yet. We’ve still got a long way to go, and hopefully we can continue to see more media representation of diverse queer characters helping us along the way.