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The B in X-Men is Silent: Bisexuality & X-Men

LordOfLore

Banned
Sep 1, 2015
12,835
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25
Stockholm
Link.

The X-Men Franchise has taken a lot of heat for its portrayal of gay and lesbian characters. Over the past few decades the number of textually lesbian and gay X-Men has grown and with each addition created waves of controversy. Homosexual representation in the X-Men has been called pandering, out of touch, or off base. There are several critical reads that have long since suggested alternate takes on characters like Kitty Pryde, Illyana Rasputin, and Rachel Summers that cast their interactions as subtextually romantic. Several uses of the Mutant Metaphor have been an allegory for the gay experience. Somewhere between that text and the subtext, all bisexual representation has been silenced. The franchise as a whole does not approach bisexual representation with respect, despite having an incredible number of characters for whom the claim can be made and the majority of textual bisexual representation in Marvel comics.

Daken, Mystique, Psylocke, Richter, and Shatterstar. That is the current list of textual bisexual mutants unless you want to count David Allyene (depowered) or Stacy X (depowered, shown possibly repowered, no appearances since 2012). David’s bisexuality was not explored in an X-Book, nor has he appeared in the franchise since 2012. Stacy X is… regrettable. Of the remainder, Daken and Mystique are frequently cast as villainous while Psylocke, Richter, and Shatterstar are generally cast in heroic roles. All five, however, have at one time or another taken a heel and face turn, batting for both teams really. This is good for bisexual representation because bisexuality is rarely depicted in any medium including the comics these characters come from.

How rare, one might ask? Psylocke, Betsy Braddock, introduced in 1976 has over 750 appearances to her name. However, the reveal of her bisexuality took place in 2013 and has not come up since. Even with her popularity, she has appeared in no more than 125 comics since coming out as textually bisexual. Since the X-Force storyline involving her romantic entanglement with a part of Fantomex, named Cluster, that was female has resolved it also hasn’t come up again in any storylines. In fact, her relationship to Angel has been paramount in her stories. This is how bisexual voices are silenced, certainly, Psylocke hasn’t had anything to say on the topic.

This is the main issue with bisexual representation and a challenge for the perception of bisexuals everywhere. It is unreasonable and biphobic that the audience is asked to accept, without textual evidence, that one same-sex relationship means the character is bisexual. It’s arguable that is even a case for a bisexual identity in the first place as Psylocke was engaged in a heterosexual relationship with Fantomex previous to it becoming a polyamorous bisexual relationship with male Fantomex and female Cluster. Everything else is subtext. Betsy could be pansexual or any other number of niche sexualities. It seems to be the intent of the franchise that it simply be taken as read. So while she is touted as bisexual we see no evidence of it, which is par for the bisexual course, seen but not heard.
Much more at the link.
 

Juicy Bob

Member
Sep 13, 2009
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Thanks for the link. I know a few people who will be very interested in this.

It's quite striking how bisexuality is portrayed (or seemingly not portrayed) in so many media.
 

SOLDIER

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Dec 4, 2006
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Isn’t most of the sexual orientations with mainstream superheroes treated as basically flipping a switch?

Seems to be treated with the same level of care as randomly dying, turning evil, swapping bodies etc.

Just a revolving door of concepts with each new writer.
 

Mesoian

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Mar 23, 2012
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Isn't most of the sexual orientations with mainstream superheroes treated as basically flipping a switch?

Seems to be treated with the same level of care as randomly dying, turning evil, swapping bodies etc.

Just a revolving door of concepts with each new writer.
Kind of yeah. The lack of permanence in characters from book to book sort of allows for crazy stuff to happen. I remember when She-Hulk was in a lesbian relationship with a skrull girl for all of 2 issues, then it was all wiped away, unceremoniously and without any real meaning.

It's kind of the thing I hate about comics the most. There's never any meaningful growth because the next writer can, and likely will, erase or ignore the events that caused the growth in the first place. It makes being invested in romance in comics really difficult because you know it'll never last and it will be destroyed in a sloppy way when the time comes for a big event to go down.
 
Jul 25, 2013
23,951
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Around the corner
Isn’t most of the sexual orientations with mainstream superheroes treated as basically flipping a switch?

Seems to be treated with the same level of care as randomly dying, turning evil, swapping bodies etc.

Just a revolving door of concepts with each new writer.
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SOLDIER

Member
Dec 4, 2006
5,788
0
1,040
www.blamethelag.wordpress.com
Kind of yeah. The lack of permanence in characters from book to book sort of allows for crazy stuff to happen. I remember when She-Hulk was in a lesbian relationship with a skrull girl for all of 2 issues, then it was all wiped away, unceremoniously and without any real meaning.

It's kind of the thing I hate about comics the most. There's never any meaningful growth because the next writer can, and likely will, erase or ignore the events that caused the growth in the first place. It makes being invested in romance in comics really difficult because you know it'll never last and it will be destroyed in a sloppy way when the time comes for a big event to go down.
It’s the reason I gave up on mainstream comics.

It’s such a stupid practice, and one that the fans keep defending as it keeps the books from “restricting” new readers.

It’s not like they need to retcon Harry Potter every ten years for new readers. Or Pokémon, even.

And I’ll keep using this as a counter example: Goku began in Dragon Ball as a 12 year old boy. Currently he’s a grandfather battling multiverse Gods.

That’s infinitely cooler than just changing the character’s background every half decade. If you keep undoing their character development, they stop becoming characters.
 

ahoyhoy

Unconfirmed Member
Mar 25, 2008
10,535
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Can't speak to X-men but as a bisexual it can be frustrating how binary sexuality is portrayed in a lot of mainstream stuff, gay and straight alike.

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Ugh.
 

Kaiterra

Banned
Jun 24, 2014
2,301
0
0
What about Storm though. Though hers illustrates a problem of even when it's established, it doesn't count for too much if most writers don't do anything with it.

I was really annoyed at how Daken was only made bi to make him "creepier" in a homophobic way. And then they gave him rape smells as a superpower. Fuck.