Those of you with any connection to the geek world or the gay world, and especially those in the inner circle of the gay-geek world, will have seen that Marvel recently released one of its longest running characters from his hiding place in the closet.

Superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis revealed in All-New X-Men that the character of Bobby Drake, the man of Ice that we all know and love, is secretly gay.

Unintentionally outed by fellow X-Man Jean Grey, the current version of which is much younger and has less control over her telepathic abilities, when she coaxes him into finally admitting to himself and to her that he is gay.

There was a lot of adverse reaction to Iceman’s coming out throughout the geek world; not so much opposing gay characters but opposing changing existing characters to make them gay.

The insinuation that Iceman would wear spandex even when he wasn’t fighting crime seemed more like sacrilege to a character that many of us geeks have been reading about for years.

Not the First Gay on the Page
This is not the first time that a major comic book publisher has changed a well-established character to make them gay. The original Green Lantern Alan Scott was reintroduced as gay in DC Comics’ “Earth Two” series. And even though we applaud DC for not hesitating to recreate this 1940s classic character as a ring-bearing mo, it was an alternate universe version of the original in a rebooted DC universe, which allowed the writers to take a lot of liberties in changing the characters. (I mean the Gay Green Lantern ended up not even

However the fact that Iceman, a character who has been around since the X-Men were first published back in 1963, has come out as gay adds new depth to these characters.

In an ideal world we all would be honest with our friends and family, and ourselves, from day one about our homosexuality. It wouldn’t be an issue we struggle with or anything that we would be ashamed of. In the real world that is rarely the case, and Iceman’s struggle and flat-out denial of his latent homosexuality represents a very honest real-life struggle that we all will have dealt with at some point in our lives.

Add to this Iceman’s background as an underachiever, a class clown that has a tendency to goof off rather than admit to the scope of his full potential, and you have a character that a lot more of us can relate to.

More Minorities
The inclusion of more minorities within the comic book world is incredibly important, not just to have gay characters, but also characters of other ethnicities and the occasional female super hero.

The ever-growing success of the Marvel Studios movies has made it awkwardly obvious just how aryan the creators of these comics were. Fair enough most of these characters were created in the 50s and 60s, when women, black people and gay people weren’t just considered minorities, they were thought of as being inferior, barbaric and a crime against humanity. And while some may still feel like that today, it is thankfully no longer acceptable to say so.

In fact this is an aspect that the writer addresses when Iceman comes out. (Quick catch up: these younger X-Men have been brought into the present time period from the past and so there are duplicate older versions of them that they have encountered… simple right?)

When the young Iceman wonders why his future/current self isn’t gay, young Jean Grey suggests that being gay back in their original time would be difficult, or even impossible, and that being in the current time period Iceman will find people much more accepting and understanding. Iceman even considers being Bi for a moment or two before conceding to being a full-blown gay.
having a lantern because of these changes. So he’s basically just an old gay who wears a green cape. There are plenty of people like that you can meet in real life).

Why Iceman Needs to be Gay
Every gay geek out there will know of and probably love Northstar, Batwoman and Wiccan as representatives of LGBT characters in comics.

However the fact that Iceman, a character who has been around since the X-Men were first published back in 1963, has come out as gay adds new depth to these characters.

In an ideal world we all would be honest with our friends and family, and ourselves, from day one about our homosexuality. It wouldn’t be an issue we struggle with or anything that we would be ashamed of. In the real world that is rarely the case, and Iceman’s struggle and flat-out denial of his latent homosexuality represents a very honest real-life struggle that we all will have dealt with at some point in our lives.

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Add to this Iceman’s background as an underachiever, a class clown that has a tendency to goof off rather than admit to the scope of his full potential, and you have a character that a lot more of us can relate to.
More Minorities
The inclusion of more minorities within the comic book world is incredibly important, not just to have gay characters, but also characters of other ethnicities and the occasional female super hero.

The ever-growing success of the Marvel Studios movies has made it awkwardly obvious just how aryan the creators of these comics were. Fair enough most of these characters were created in the 50s and 60s, when women, black people and gay people weren’t just considered minorities, they were thought of as being inferior, barbaric and a crime against humanity. And while some may still feel like that today, it is thankfully no longer acceptable to say so.

In fact this is an aspect that the writer addresses when Iceman comes out. (Quick catch up: these younger X-Men have been brought into the present time period from the past and so there are duplicate older versions of them that they have encountered… simple right?)

When the young Iceman wonders why his future/current self isn’t gay, young Jean Grey suggests that being gay back in their original time would be difficult, or even impossible, and that being in the current time period Iceman will find people much more accepting and understanding. Iceman even considers being Bi for a moment or two before conceding to being a full-blown gay.

All of this is a huge part of the struggle young gay men make when discovering their homosexuality. How many of us look back to when we were younger, in school or in any environment in which it would have been all-but impossible to come out as gay. Times have changed (for the most part) and the freedom to be openly gay is growing so much that even 50 year old comic book characters are comfortable coming out of the closet.

Iceman’s movie counterpart Shawn Ashmore has even publicly commended Bobby’s decision to come out of the closet, tweeting his congrats to Bobby and not shying away from the changes in his on-screen persona.

With fellow gay Bryan Singer still in charge of the X-Men movies franchise, we may even get to see a different side to Ashmore if he makes any further appearances as Iceman in future X-films.

A Step in the Right Direction
Comic books and sci fi books are an escape for those of us not quite coping with the real world; this is why it holds such appeal to so many gay people. Whether it’s our homosexuality or our social awkwardness that makes us an outcast, having these characters and stories gives us a way to escape the difficulties of reality during childhood that often follows us well into our thirties.

Programming their readers from a young age to see American white heterosexual men as the champions and everyone else as either victims or villains is a sure-fire way to screw us up. Having lived life as a chubby, gay, geek, I for one would have loved to have seen more gay characters (or even any gay characters) in comics when I was growing up. It would have shown me that the answer wasn’t always found by a straight guy; that being straight isn’t the only way to be strong and be a hero; that being gay could be a part of your character and not something you read comic books to escape from.

Things will be difficult for Iceman as he comes to term with being gay while at the same time fighting to save the world from evil mutants, but the real battle will be in the heart of the older Iceman. Knowing that his younger self has fully admitted that he is gay he will have to either admit how he’s secretly felt all these years, or bury his head even further into denial. A choice that plenty of closeted men have to face in the real world every day.

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.