A Marvel Comics superhero gay couple is set to be married in the June 20 issue of Astonishing X-Men #51, though the decision is being protested by a family group which believes the move could "indoctrinate impressionable young minds."
The characters in question are Northstar, a Canadian superhero associated with Alpha Flight and the X-Men, who came out as gay back in 1992. Now, 20 years later, the superhero is set to marry his longtime human partner Kyle in Marvel's first ever gay wedding, in a move that the creators know will stir controversy.
"When gay marriage became legal in New York State, it raised obvious questions since most of our heroes reside in New York State", said Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso in an interview with Rolling Stone this week.
"Northstar is the first openly gay character in comics and he's been in a long-term relationship with his partner Kyle so the big question was – how would this change his relationship? Our comics are always best when they respond to and reflect developments in the real world. We've been doing that for decades, and this is just the latest expression of that."
The story comes almost the same time as DC Comics, Marvel's main competitor, revealed that one of its prominent characters will also come out as gay, though his or her identity has not been revealed yet. DC publisher Dan Didio admitted that the company's opinion on homosexuality had "evolved," similar to how President Barack Obama recently changed his mind on endorsing same-sex marriage.
Not everyone is on board with the change, however, and One Million Moms, a project of the American Family Association, has come out with a statement warning how the two main Comic book companies could influence a child's view of the world.
"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?," the organization's statement began.
"This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don't but do want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children's superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27)," it added.
Astonishing X-Men writer Marjorie Liu explained that the characters are a minority among minorities – since in the Marvel superhero world, mutants are feared and rejected by a large section of society as well.
"Here are two people, trying to live their lives – mutant and gay, black and gay – empowered in their own ways, but also fringe-dwellers," Liu expressed. "And they're making it happen. They're living life on their own terms. It doesn't matter that it's a superhero comic, the message is: You can do the same thing."
Alonso noted that he realizes not everyone will agree with the gay marriage decision, and he plans to reflect the debate within the comic book story itself.
"Let me make it clear – this story begins with a marriage, but it ain't over with the marriage," the editor said. "We'd be doing the story a disservice not to reflect the controversy around it. While a lot of Marvel Universe characters will be attending Northstar's wedding, not everyone is going to accept the invitation and not everyone is going to accept the validity of Northstar's vows. At least one of Northstar's team members is going to turn down the invitation, and that's going to make for an interesting dynamic."