Superheroes that are openly gay

Back in the Golden Age of comic books, a character's sexuality was probably never considered when they were created. Stan Lee likely never stopped to think if Peter Parker might be checking out Flash Thompson in the locker room. But times change, and audiences want to find more ways to relate to the stories they consume. Readers want to know that superheroes don't discriminate, and creators have responded throughout the years.

Ice Man

When the X-Men were first introduced in 1963, the team consisted of Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and Iceman. Over the years, Iceman evolved a number of different looks and even had a few relationships. It wasn't until a storyline in 2015 when a time-displaced teenage version of Iceman was introduced that psychic Jean Grey discovered he was gay. Since the Iceman we'd all been reading since the 1960s never indicated this was the case, the characters had a talk where it was revealed that Iceman couldn't cope with being both a mutant and gay, but since he had to deal with his powers openly, he suppressed his own sexuality to the point where he refused to even think about it. After talking with his teen self, Iceman was able to come to terms with his feelings and the character is now openly gay, arguably making him Marvel's most intensely powerful character who is also homosexual.

Northstar

The Canadian mutant known as Northstar has been a member of Alpha Flight and had numerous appearance in the X-Men over the years. He's also Marvel's first openly gay character. In fact, in issue 51 of Astonishing X-Men, Northstar marries his husband. Though not as popular as the X-Men, Alpha Flight was a team of mutants who operated north of the border in Canada. Northstar serves as an integral member of the team and has a variety of powers including superhuman speed, flight, and the ability to fire photonic blasts of energy. He and the rest of the team were created by legendary writer John Byrne in 1983, who at first didn't want to create the team as two-dimensional nobodies to counter the X-Men. In order to alleviate his own misgivings, he created more fleshed out backgrounds for the characters, including making Northstar a gay character, which had to only be hinted at since editorial policy at the time forbade characters from being homosexual.

Batwoman

You're probably familiar with Batgirl in the Batman pantheon of characters, the alter ego of Barbara Gordon. But Batwoman actually predates the girl by a few years. Ironically, she was introduced in the mid-1950s to as a love interest for Batman to counter rumors that Batman was gay. Seduction of the Innocent, a book written by psychiatrist Frederic Wertham, had called comics into question for their influence over children, and in particular called out the characters of Batman and Robin, suggesting their relationship was a homosexual one. Batwoman ended up being axed as a character midway through the 1960s only to be resurrected again in 2006. This time she was given a new twist and was re-introduced as a gay character herself, in an effort on DC's part to offer more diverse characters for their readers.

Rictor

Introduced in the late 1980s, Rictor made his way through a number of X-titles, including X-Factor and X-Force, as well as The New Mutants. His mutant power involves generating seismic energy to basically direct earthquakes at a target. In 2009, Rictor shared a kiss with fellow X-Force member Shatterstar, the first ever in a Marvel comic book. Since that time, the character has been an open and out gay man. The relationship between Rictor and Shatterstar proved to be so popular and well done that writer Peter David won a GLAAD award for the portrayal of their relationship in the pages of X-Factor.

Graymalkin

A casual Marvel fan may recognize the word Graymalkin as popping up frequently in the X-Universe. It's the name of the street on which you'll find Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, as well as the name of Cable's space station. And, since 2008, Graymalkin has also been a mutant with the young X-Men. How'd he get his name? His family owned the land on which Xavier's school was built and the street was actually named after them. As it turns out, though, the character Graymalkin is over 200 years old, and was caught by his father as a teen experimenting with another boy. Enraged, his father beat him unconscious and actually buried him alive on the land that would one day become Xavier's school. Fortunately for Graymalkin, his mutant powers activated and saved him from death, putting him in a kind of hibernation until the present when he was freed and eventually became a member of the Young X-Men.

Anole

One of the New X-Men, Anole's mutation is a number of lizard-like abilities to match his scaly appearance, including the ability to crawl up walls, a prehensile tongue, and adaptive camouflage. The character was introduced with hints that he might be gay, given his closeness to his mentor Northstar. It was later confirmed as the real deal by the comics' writers. Anole has since been praised for being openly gay and not necessarily having every storyline including this fact as a central aspect of his life. He's gay, but he's also a superhero, so he does superhero things that aren't affected by his sexuality. In other words, despite looking like a lizard, he's just a normal guy.

Angela

One of the coolest characters in recent comics history, Angela was originally created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane to be part of the Spawn universe. However, after a lawsuit over rights, a court ordered that Angela should revert fully to Gaiman, who has since sold the character to Marvel. Angela was originally a warrior from Heaven sent to fight the hellspawn. Once she joined the Marvel Universe, she ended up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, of all people, until she has to run off with Odin's baby to protect it after finding out she, too, is an Asgardian, and the daughter of Odin. Accompanying her is Sera, her companion, friend, and lover.

Deadpool

Likely the most surprising name on the list given his rise to fame in recent years, Deadpool is played straight in his movie, but writers and the man in red himself Ryan Reynolds have openly acknowledged Mr. Pool is actually a lot more fluid in his sexuality than that. Described as "pansexual" by Reynolds and by co-creator Fabian Nicieza as "whatever his brain tells him to be that day," Deadpool is ready to have fun with anyone from moment to moment. In a Variety article, Reynolds has gone on record saying he loves this aspect of the character and hopes that in a sequel the character could have a boyfriend, just because it's another way Deadpool breaks the boundaries of traditional superhero roles.