Marvel Preview Pages: Founding X-Men Member Comes Out as Gay
As ostracized mutants, the X-Men have long served as a metaphor for various types of oppression, everything from immigration to homosexuality. Now, leaked pages from the latest issue of All-New X-Men reveal that the latter analogy is about to become much more explicit, as Iceman, one of the founding members of the X-Men is coming out as gay.
"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," said writer Brian Michael Bendis. "This is just the first little chapter of a much larger story that will be told."
From the available pages, this revelation is something of a mixed bag from a social justice standpoint. Of course it's positive to increase the amount of LGBT representation in mainstream media, but Marvel's handling of that representation is problematic in several ways. First, as seen in the panels below, Iceman doesn't actually "come out," but rather is "outed" by psychic Jean Grey. She doesn't wait for him to be ready to talk about it, but just confronts him with his own thoughts, and there's no sign that anyone will acknowledge that this is disrespectful and insensitive.
But, even more troublingly, the fluid timeline of the X-Men means that we've met the older Iceman, who is not gay:
Young Ice-man gay, older Ice-man not gay. HOW can that be handled well. What msg is this sending to readers? 'You get better?' So annoyed!— Marcy Cook (@marcyjcook) April 21, 2015
To be fair, the characters explain the disparity by speculating that the older Iceman just doesn't want to deal with the discrimination, and so stays in the closet. This doesn't imply that Iceman "got better," but rather that he is tragically hiding who he is as a result of societal ignorance. But that being said, there's no reason Iceman couldn't have just been bisexual, and their handling of this possibility isn't ideal. Iceman says his older self dated women, so he might be bisexual, and Jean Grey answers, "Not well" in order to indicate that he's "more full gay," which is needlessly reductive. It's good that they're trying to represent the LGBT community, but they come dangerously close to reinforcing the tired stereotype that people who identify as bisexual (particularly men) are really just covering up their "full" homosexuality.
Here are the preview pages, courtesy of NewNowNext: