It’s official: Green Lantern has come out of the closet.
DC Comics announced on Friday that Green Lantern, a superhero staple for decades, is gay. (And all of this time, my money was on Wonder Woman or Aquaman.) When bigotry falls, it often falls fast — gay marriage, Barack Obama as the first gay president and now popular superheroes like Green Lantern.
Green Lantern is the name of multiple superheroes who possess a green power ring. Over the past 70 years, there have been several Green Lanterns with various names. The original Green Lantern was Alan Scott who was introduced during World War II. The best-known Green Lantern is Hal Jordan, who was portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 movie. Jordan emerged in the late 1950s after DC Comics stopped publishing the original series about Scott.
To be clear, because it matters to comic geeks, it’s Scott, not Jordan, a founding member of the Justice League, who is gay. In previous incarnations, Scott had a gay son. But in the new comic series, Green Lantern is young again, without children, and his past has been entirely rebooted. Yes, he has a boyfriend whom he greets with a welcome home kiss.
The series writer, James Robinson, told the New York Post: “It's a realistic depiction of society. You have to move with the times.”
This doesn’t sit well with conservative groups. One Million Moms, a spinoff group of the American Family Association, has launched a petition to protest DC Comics, as well as Marvel, which has a gay character who is planning his wedding — to be featured in an upcoming X-Men issue.
The group had previously protested the Archie comic series after it featured a gay wedding. That issue sold out.
On Friday, One Million Moms tweeted, “WARNING: DC Comics has announced that the Green Lantern is gay.”
The One Million Moms Web site states: “Children desire to be just like superheroes. Children mimic superhero actions and even dress up in costumes to resemble these characters as much as possible. Can you imagine little boys saying, ‘I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?’ ”
Some critics on Twitter accused DC Comics of pushing a political agenda. One Green Lantern fan tweeted, “As a fan of The Green Lantern going back to '65, I’m OUTRAGED that DC would destroy him this way, just to score PC points.”
Some joked that Wonder Woman was probably busy flirting with Xena. Some wanted Obama to comment on Green Lantern’s sexuality. Others told horrendous gay jokes not worth repeating.
Many comic fans had little problem with the news. Maybe that’s because Green Lantern is not the first gay superhero.
Starman, an alien who came to Earth to conquer it, had a gay relationship. Kathy Kane, aka Batwoman — not to be confused with Batgirl — is a lesbian who came out in 2006 and was romantically involved with a female detective in Gotham.
In 2001, an assistant to Kyle Rayner, then Green Lantern (there’s a bunch of these guys, so don’t be confused), was introduced to readers as gay. One story line featured the assistant brutally beaten in a homophobic attack. The writer of the series, Judd Winrick, won several GLAAD Media Awards.
Imaginary worlds like Gotham and Metropolis are often very similar to real-life cities where the brave fight crime and people fall in love — regardless of their sexuality. That's still hard for many to believe.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker