Pride is so much more than parades with sparkly floats. Pride is about loving who you are and fighting for your rights. It’s a time to celebrate but also to pay your respects. Every June, all over the world, the LGBTQ+ community shows pride — and that looks different for everyone.
Comic books have a unique place in pop culture. They allow us to explore colorful alternate worlds where superpowers exist and justice is defended by noble heroes. But they also let us see bits of ourselves in those flashy suits and swirling capes. We aspire to be the heroes (okay fine, maybe sometimes the villains too).
That’s why we’d like to highlight some of the best moments of queer history in DC comics. Many even come from this year’s DC Pride 2022, so get ready for a whole spectrum of action!
Nicole Maines’ DC Pride 2022 Foreword
The foreword for DC Pride 2022 is written by Nicole Maines, the actress who portrayed Nia Nal, AKA Dreamer, on The CW’s Supergirl as well as wrote Dreamer’s premiere story in DC Pride 2021. Her foreword is the perfect introduction to this year’s Pride issue because she is able to sum up exactly what a comic book like this means to the community.
Of course there’s pride and excitement, but there’s also some worry and struggle mixed in when people come together to create something so deeply personal. Nicole Maines stands out as a shining voice in the future of DC comics and her inclusion as the book’s first voice shows DC’s commitment to authentic innovation.
Jackson Hyde and his Mom in Aquaman: The Becoming #1
There is of course great value in out-and-proud relationships and high-profile kisses, but small moments like this are equally as meaningful. When Jackson Hyde, the new Aquaman, meets up with his mom at the local diner, he is tongue-tied talking to the handsome server. Jackson’s mom notices this budding attraction and once her son is called away to action, she lets Davi know that she has her eye on him. Though Lucia Hyde is stern, she has her son’s best interests at heart and will protect him at any cost — even from cute boys.
Finding Community in Harley Quinn’s The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour #3
If there’s one adjective you could never ascribe to Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy’s relationship, it’s boring. Not only do they fight crime, commit crime, and occasionally ogle at Nightwing’s butt, they do it all in style. But the third issue of The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour also exemplifies one of the most important tenets of queerness: community.
As they’re on the run from two Karens trying to cash in on a reward, Harley and Ivy receive a much-needed assist from Reign. This queer woman helps Harlivy escape, noting that she’s just one of many people rooting for the couple. Now that’s solidarity!
Renee Montoya Gets Outed by Two-Face
Although this is a “best of” list, not every moment is happy — sometimes the reality of being queer is that there is deep pain involved. This is especially true when queer identities are endangered by other people’s prejudice.
In Gotham Central #6 (2003), Renee Montoya had befriended Two-Face, an unlikely pair that strangely worked out for solving crime. However, when he found out that Renee is a lesbian, Two-Face retaliated with cowardice by outing her and framing her for murder. While this betrayal causes Renee horrific pain, ultimately she was able to emerge as The Question, her current crimefighting alias.
Alysia Yeoh Drives ‘Em Batty
All across the world of comics, there’s a significant shortage of trans representation. However “Up at Bat,” Alysia Yeoh’s short story in DC Pride 2022 written by Jadzia Axelrod and drawn by Lynne Yoshii, spotlights a woman who fights by her own rules — and knows how to win. Alysia’s commentary as she defends Batgirl is refreshing because she acknowledges a hard truth in the queer community: It’s often the same battles that have to be fought over and over again, the same fight for recognition and respect.
But the difference, as Alysia points out, is that the fight doesn’t have to be on their terms. And that’s how you hit a home run.
Jon Kent’s First Kiss With A Boy
Few acts of love are more powerful than a simple kiss — even when you have heat vision, super strength, and a big S on your chest. Jonathan Kent is Superman’s son and he takes up his father’s title when Kal-El leaves for Warworld. In Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, Jon shares a first kiss with Jay Nakamura, a Gamorran refugee journalist who would soon become his boyfriend.
Green Lantern Tackles Bisexual Stereotypes
As with any marginalized group, queer identities face a whole slew of stereotypes. One such stereotype for bisexual folks is that they’re excessively promiscuous. In other words, if you’re bi, you’re untrustworthy in a relationship and always on the prowl.
Tini Howard’s “The Gumshoe in Green” tackles this stereotype with stylish flair, and Green Lantern Jo Mullein proves that you don’t always need to let bygones be bygones — some people need to be taught a lesson.
Danny the Street Provides a Loving Home
On rare occasions, a character who formerly stood out as odd or out of place can be brought into modern context with beautiful results. Back in 1990, when Danny the Street first appeared, Danny was hard to explain. As a flamboyant, sentient street who could teleport inhabitants across dimensions, Danny was an instant hit. Danny could speak Polari, an underground gay code, and enjoyed camping up storefronts with incongruous decorations.
Now, thanks to their portrayal on HBO Max’s Doom Patrol series, Danny the Street is a beloved genderqueer home to not only the Doom Patrol but anyone seeking a world of refuge and safety. Long live Danny!
Midnighter and Apollo Finding Each Other in Every Universe
You know what they say … opposites attract. As one of DC Comics’ original gay couples, Midnighter and Apollo are the result of a very big “what if?” When creating The Authority, a group of crimefighters originally from the alternate Wildstorm Universe, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch wondered what it would be like if Batman and Superman were in love.
From that super question, the relationship between Midnighter and Apollo was born. Thought it might sound like a gimmick, these two heroes have always been portrayed as genuinely in love and never some sort of parody. Throughout all their rebirths, the duo are never apart for too long, especially once they got married in The Authority #29 (2002).
Kevin Conroy’s “Finding Batman”
The struggle of being queer is endlessly shown on screen, drawn on panels, and etched into words. Audiences know that being queer is hard in a world that does not always say, “Welcome to the table!” But Kevin Conroy, the voice behind Batman in the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series, tells a story where that struggle turns into a strength.
Behind the scenes, we’re given a look into how Conroy’s journey to becoming Batman was neither easy nor expected. While he faced discrimination, he also learned an invaluable lesson: Pain could be molded into someone powerful, someone iconic. And that someone was Batman — known for taking trauma and turning it into purpose, but also a father figure to the (wouldn’t you know it) super-queer Bat-Family.
Queer pride is joyful, but it’s also angry and sad and whatever we need it to be. It’s a reminder that we’re not alone — and these moments from DC comics prove Pride is here to stay.
Every year, DC continues to provide thoughtful queer inclusion. Queerness is weaved into its existing history in genuine, authentic ways rather than feeling like tokenized characters. From the ever-popular pair of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to Jess Chambers, The Flash of Future State who’s always self-assured in their capabilities, representation is on the ride. You can even (try to) catch Jess as they work with Teen Justice, a limited-series team debuting this year in DC’s Pride collection!
What has been your favorite queer history moment from DC Comics? Keep the conversation going over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!