What We Have Always Hoped Is True Is Actually True: Wonder Woman Is Queer!

Greg Rucka, the current Wonder Woman writer for DC Comics, has just confirmed in an exclusive interview with Comicosity that Wonder Woman, one of DC's "Big Three" heroes and one of the most iconic and recognizable characters in the world, is queer (bisexual). On the one hand, this is huge news. Like, officially, The Best Thing Ever. For an often ignored, dismissed, and invisible sexuality, this is like being the underdog at the Olympics that comes out of nowhere to beat the world champion and shock the world. Wonder Woman is not a minor or second string character The Powers That Be can announce as queer, devote a few issues of story to, and then conveniently disappear back into the vaults.

I'm reminded of Marvel's big same-sex wedding story in Astonishing X-Men in 2012. Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier of Canadian team Alpha Flight) married his long term boyfriend and tons of Marvel heroes attended the wedding. While I thought the story was good, and I was beyond thrilled to see a same-sex wedding and couple in a major comic book as a big story, the characters themselves are not current big names. Jean-Paul is one of the few openly gay characters in the Marvel world and I am sure that's one of the reasons why he was chosen for the honor having the first same-sex wedding in the company’s history to honor same-sex marriage becoming legal in all 50 states. That’s great but… Northstar is not a first stringer. Alpha Flight was fairly well known in the 80s and 90s and Northstar has been a part of several teams over the years (including the X-Men), but how recognizable would he be to most current readers? The last time the team had their own book was 1994. And as far as I can tell, the last big events Northstar was part of were around the time of the wedding — four years ago.

To give an idea of how this would compare to Marvel in terms of equivalency, they would have to designate a character like Spider-Man or Captain America as LGBT. Probably Captain America to capture the same parallels/feel with Diana. Not to mention, for the record, that EVERYONE'S money is already on bisexual Steve Rogers (@Marvel: Make This Happen).

So as big as this news is, what does it really mean for queer fans? Do we dare get our hopes up? Like… Yes, it's out there and canon, hooray! But that’s under the current writer. Will the writer that takes over the book after Rucka be LGBT-friendly and affirming as well? A previous writer's characterization of a character can be effectively retconned by simply ignoring what another writer did and not mentioning the thing they are ignoring. Sometimes that's for the best, like when we all heave a sigh of relief when some totally WTF storyline is officially dropped, like what the Russo brothers did with Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron Brutasha (Bruce Banner/Natasha Romanoff) ship in Captain America: Civil War; or when we all collectively decide as a fandom to ignore some canon craziness. Again, like Brutasha (this, my friends, is what we call a win-win).

Now, it would seem like Wonder Woman being confirmed as queer would not be ghosted on because her background and story have long been assumed to be queer for a number of reasons. One being the fact that she is from an island populated only by female identified persons. Presumably and obviously romantic and/or sexual relationships happen. Due to the "radical inclusivity" of Themyscira and its designation as a perfect society, we have to assume all sexualities are represented. Steve Trevor is fine, and particularly fine when played by the very fine Chris Pine, but I’m not prepared to assume his cock is magical and literally awakened Diana's sexuality when she laid eyes on the first man she had ever seen.

Or is it...

Rucka explains why, in regards to Steve Trevor, Diana being queer is important:

"Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.

And it needs to be yes for a number of reasons. But perhaps foremost among them is, if no, then she leaves paradise only because of a potential romantic relationship with Steve [Trevor]. And that diminishes her character. It would hurt the character and take away her heroism."

That's a definite "never." I am going to immediately adopt this answer for everything.

I think we can feel more confident about this not only staying in the official canon, but being actually part of on-going stories and being handled respectfully because of how serious Greg Rucka obviously takes this responsibility. He and his team clearly care about good representation. He and his team also seem to be pretty woke on why representation matters and how sexuality is understood today. I think this was evident based on the very first question he was asked, which is if Diana is queer. Before answering, he acknowledged that his understanding of the term queer, as a straight cis man, might not match that of someone in the community. So he asked the interviewer to explain what they mean by the term. Because it's important that marginalized communities get to define their own terms. That fact that he got that put me at ease and the rest of the (very good) interview helped to further remove my reservations.

Rucka:

"[G]oing back to the question of sexuality on Themyscira, we spent a long time thinking about what this means. I did a talk at Fantastic Comics in Berkeley, California, where I said that no Amazon is going to look at another Amazon and say they are Amazoning wrong. Because that wouldn't be paradise. The society accepts everyone in it. The requirement is, you're here and you're female.

Now, that opens up a separate question. For the purposes of Themyscira, as the Amazons experience it, and as we represent that experience, nobody looks at Io and says, "You're too butch." Nobody looks at Kasia and says, "You’re too femme." Nobody says a dress is inappropriate. Nobody says, "Why are you wearing pants?" Nobody says you're too heavy. Nobody says you're too skinny, or not strong enough.

It has to be an inclusive and accepting society, for a number of reasons — paradise being one of them. But also because, Nicola, Liam, and I believe very strongly that Diana is beautifully and very actively inclusive."

It's hard to overstate how groundbreaking it is for a character of Wonder Woman's stature to be confirmed as queer. This sort of representation is going to be affirmation for queer people who have been fans for decades and have always seen something of themselves in Diana Prince, and it is also going to be very welcome representation for newer/younger fans who yearn to see themselves in the media they love and consume.

I know it's not a contest and we are all supposed to be team Everyone Is Awesome, but I feel like this is a "Your move, Marvel" moment. When is Marvel going to give us a queer character that can actually make it onto a T-shirt, Halloween costume, or backpack? Meaning a character they are monetarily invested in. As aggressively straight as the Marvel movies (Civil War somehow managed to be simultaneously super gay and super no-homo), I do not see this happening any time soon. This is also something to watch with the DC movies. Is this information going to at all make its way into the film franchise? Will we see an indication of Diana's not-straightness when her very first movie comes to the big screen in 2017? We shall see. To DC (and Marvel): the fans are watching. Especially the queer ones.

Wonder Woman wants to bring truth, justice, and visibility.
Niala Terrell-Mason's picture
on October 11, 2016

Hey, I'm Niala! I'm black, bisexual, super liberal, a Unitarian Universalist (I'll wait while you Google that), and a long time fangirl. I love fan conventions, Marvel, Star Trek, fan fiction, Tumblr, Harry Potter, most of the shows that Fox cancels and books. I work in a public library and I am a grad student pursuing a masters of divinity in interfaith chaplaincy (aka someone who does religion for a living). I hope you think I'm funny.