The X-Men mean a lot to me. When I was a baby gay and used to go down the shore a lot with my parents (yes, I’m from New Jersey), X-Men The Arcade Game was the one game I always wanted to play on the boardwalk. I’d look for that, Street Fighter, and The Simpsons game—in fact, those were the only games I ever beat in an arcade. The first time I beat X-Men The Arcade Game, I cheated—I’d joined in while a bunch of guys were playing it and on the last level. I chose Storm and, together, we beat the game. I remember being the youngest there—the guys high fived me and I ran to my parents to tell them I beat my favorite arcade game.
This was my introduction to The X-Men.
Then, one day at the mall (yes, in New Jersey), we went into Kay-Bee Toys and I passed by toys of the characters from that X-Men game I loved to play. My mom told me I could get two—I got Storm and Wolverine and played with them until almost all the paint on their faces was worn off. Then I found out it was a comic book and became a regular at the comic book shop in that same mall—a comic book shop that would end up being my first job. A job I loved (fun fact: it’s the same comic book shop where Oscar shops in one of my favorite books, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao).
The rest is history. Or whatever.
So, one of my favorite comic book writers, Brian Michael Bendis, has been running X-Men for a while now. I am the first to admit I wasn’t completely sold on All-New X-Men because time travel isn’t my favorite plot. But, I really have grown to love that book because it’s done what I love about comics/scifi—it’s become more about the characters while the plot is mostly secondary.
And here we are: young, time-displaced Iceman has come out as gay. Or, well, he got a little push out of the closet by young, time-displaced Jean Grey. And the internet, as usual, has had a LOT of things to say about it…
- He’s an already established character that has been with women—he can’t be gay: Incorrect! That’s not how sexuality works. Also, tell me how old you THINK Iceman is supposed to be? Very few of Marvel’s characters have aged. Even Jubilee is still a teenager after twenty plus years in the Marvel universe. So, at the oldest, Bobby could be 30—you think that’s a crazy age to come out? Because it happens.
- This is a marketing stunt: How so? Do you think Marvel needs any “stunts” at this point? They currently own the souls of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans who probably swim through their money not unlike Scrooge McDuck.
- He’s slept with women! He can’t be gay: Incorrect! Once again, that’s not how sexuality works, you uneducated monster! I am very much gay and have slept with women and didn’t even kiss a guy until I was 19—and, again, I’m very very gay.
- Jean Grey shouldn’t have been reading his mind like that: Correct! She shouldn’t have been but she did and it seemed more like an “inexperienced telepath accidentally reading his surface thoughts” than a “invading his mind to purposefully find something out” kinda thing. But, either way, Iceman has a right to feel like his privacy was being invaded.
- She brushes off his bisexuality: Incorrect! He says, “Maybe I’m bi” in an attempt to avoid being seen as gay. He even says she’s right when Jean says he’s “full gay.” Learn to read dialogue! I did the same thing when I came out—I’d even say stupid things like, “I mean, I still really like girls but…” which was my way of coming out but still holding on to whatever societal stereotypes of “manliness” I thought I had. Bisexuality is a real thing but Iceman AGREES that he’s gay—so, therefore, he’s gay.
- But, how can Jean know he’s not bi: Well, Jean Grey is a telepathic mutant in a comic book that takes place in the Marvel Comics Universe. I think we can safely assume she knows how to correctly read a mind otherwise he might actually be straight and then this whole thing is moot—and Iceman wouldn’t have agreed with her if he wasn’t gay.
- But we need more bisexual characters: Correct! We do. Comics in general still have a lot of work to do when it comes to diversity in nearly every which way. I completely agree. I look forward to a day when a major comic character coming out isn't big news.
- He showed no signs of being gay: This is dumb. Did you need him to be some gross offensive stereotype? Also, what signs are we talking about because Northstar once had an entire mini-series that came out AFTER he did (::cue bad joke horn::) and they didn’t mention him being gay FUCKING ONCE. So, again, this is a comic book—sometimes the character development isn’t as consistent as we’d hope but, come on. And, as a few people have pointed out, there were some signs.
- Younger Iceman is just gonna end up being an alternate reality version of Iceman: This could very well be true and will make me really annoyed if it is! It'd be the easy way out for everyone. I hold out hope that Bendis wouldn't do this.
- It’s bad writing: Why? Oh, right—because you needed those “signs.” You wanted him to be some weird offensive throwback stereotype? Well, just for clarity’s (and bragging’s) sake, let me to tell you a few weeks ago I was drunk with a friend and her straight guy roommate and he made a pass at me and we madeout. I was so caught off guard that I’d say it probably wasn’t my best kiss. If there were all these signs and it were something I’d predicted—it might’ve been better? But, sometimes you can’t predict things, ya know? That’s not how things work.
- It’s erasing bisexuality: No, it’s not—the conversation literally wouldn’t have gone that way if Jean knew he was bi because then she’d just have to call him out for being a dick and catcalling Magik instead of being a dick AND overcompensating by catcalling Magik.
- Jean’s joke about his failure at relationships with women is dumb: Okay, I’ll give you this—but she’s technically a teen from the 60s, so let’s give her a break? She’s being fairly forward thinking for a teen from the 60s (or whatever era they’ve retconned it to be). My mom will openly talk to me about sex and ask who I’m sleeping with and make me blush—but even she didn’t have the best reaction when I first came out (which I did by telling her I was bisexual—which was a lie). Her first reaction was the cliché, “Are you sure?” But, fast forward a few years and she still talks to one of my exes on the phone because she loves him so much and she’s constantly asking me if I’m sleeping with anyone new.
- He shouldn't have called her a bitch: Correct! It's really off-putting but sometimes friends say dumb shit to each other? He's just lucky she didn't kick his ass and wipe his mind clean.
- Current, older Iceman isn’t gay so they’re saying you outgrow homosexuality: Incorrect! Bendis was quoted as saying, “There are thousands if not millions of stories of people who, for many different reasons, felt the need to hide their sexuality. The X-Men, with the conceit of time travel, give us a fascinating platform in which to examine such personal journeys. This is just the first little chapter of a much larger story that will be told.” So, what he’s saying is, Current Iceman is in the closet.
- Time travel is confusing: Correct!
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