Sunday, May 20, 2012

TIM DRAKE: Gay or Straight, and the Argument's For and Against

I've been pretty busy today reading various articles and reactions to moves being made Superhero comics publishing, namely DC's annoucement that one of their 'classic' characters will be reintroduced to the new 52 as a homosexual.

The response has been predictably mixed.

Until DC actually announces who this character will be, fans will speculate, they will argument, and they will vehemently deny that anyone should fuck with their continuity, because, "they've never been gay, so they can't be gay, and that's just how it is.  I'm not a homophobe, I just like things the way they are!"

This is a weak argument, but it is the most popular line being toned by fan scared that one of their favorite characters will be gayed by DC, and right now Tim Drake has become the focus of this argument, because he is a popular character upon whose sexuality fans like to speculate.  More open minded fans speculate that there is much in his canon that suggests he could be gay, while other vehemently deny the possibility and parade a chorus line of failed relationships with women as evidence that he absolutely, in no way, can POSSIBLY be if there has never been a 17 year old kid that hasn't 'gone through some stuff.'

The most popular argument among the latter kind of nerd is, "I'm not a homophobe...I just don't like people messing with my continuity."  Which is a weak argument because people MESS WITH CONTIUITY ALL THE TIME.  DC just completely and totally FUCKED with continuity as part of a company wide reboot, and Marvel is continuously retroactively fucking with continuity to keep things current...Spider-Man doesn't remember his childhood growing up in the late sixties and hanging out with beatniks at the Coffee Bean.  Continuity has, and always will be, fluid in a shared universe of serialized, neverending, stories, because it HAS to be fluid otherwise characters would grow old and die with their audience.  Most of your comic book heroes will probably outlive you.

The continuity argument is just a weak way of justifying most nerds sheer terror at the idea of their favorite character having a fluid sexuality, but the argument can go both ways, especially when applied to Tim Drake, as there is plenty there to suggest that he might just be another teenage kid going through some stuff.

Take his relationship with Superboy for example.  Tim Drake literally LOST HIS SHIT when Conner Kent died, and not only tried to resurrect him through various means, but even went as far as CLONING him in multiple iterations, despite knowing that it would never be the same guy, and then tried to have a relationship with his girlfriend, because it was just another way of being close to him.

The argument against this reading, of course, is that I'm just feeding the stereotype that any close male relationship is gay, and that they just had an extreme and beautiful bro-mance, but I don't remember Batman doing any of that when Superman died...Bruce Wayne took Clark Kent's death took that death much better than Tim Drake ever took Conner Kent's, and even Superboy's girlfriend, Cassandra Sandsmark AKA Wonder Girl, never went to such extremes, and she lost her VIRGINITY TO HIM.  To me, that is real love, and while not necessarily sexual, it does smack of confusion, particularly considering the guilt and awkardness that Tim exhibited after he kissed Cassie.

There are also other instances of Tim Drake acting odd after encounters with females...there's one panel I remember from some issue of Red Robin (which I don't have on hand to reference) where he recoils after being kissed by a girl.  One way of reading it is that he was taken by surprise, another is shock at being kissed by someone you're not attracted to.  There is PLENTY of canonical evidence in favor of Tim Drake being a kid going through some stuff, and potentially questioning his sexuality, as many, MANY, teenage boys have before him.

He's a white teenage boy in America; even if he was gay, the pressure and expectation placed on him would be to DATE GIRLS, which he did, and it may not have been his thing.  Yes he has had numerous relationships with females, including a long and storied one with Stephanie Brown AKA the Spoiler, one of my favorite comic book relationships, but I'm not such a slave to continuity and the maintainance of the straight, white, status quo that I can't argue that that relationship inevitably fell apart, even before her death, as has every other token female relationship, and when Spoiler was murdered (one of the WORST FUCKING STORIES and WORST FUCKING TREATMENTS of a character I can remember...I still feel like she was only brought back to life as a way of getting rid of their boner for the horrible and dismissive treatment of a female character who was tortured to death, and then forgotten almost immediately, and not represented in the Batcave despite having been the only female Robin for a time), I don't remember Tim Drake trying to bring her back from the dead.  Hell, I think Cassandra Kaine may have had more issues dealing with her death, as we now know that since Spoiler never was dead, all those times Cassandra saw her 'ghost', it was the fabrication of a young woman who desperately missed someone she loved (a good case for Cassandra Kaine potentially being gay, by the way, as she has never had any sort of relationship with a male beyond platonic, though I think she was flattered by that one kid near the end of her runs interest).

The only argument against Tim Drake not potentialy being gay is that straight white middle American nerds just don't want him to be, because it scares the shit out of them to think that a kid who had several awkward realtionships with girls could realize that maybe the reason they didn't work is because he wasn't that invested in them to begin with.  If Tim Drake is gay, then there's a chance that anyone could be gay, including themselves, and that scares the shit out of them.

The "I'm just a continuity whore" argument is a weak attempt at trying to justify their homophobia, just as it was a weak attempt to justify adverse reaction to potentially casting Donald Glover as Spider-man to justify peoples racism.  "Spider-man can't be black, because he was never black in the comics!"  True...but the movies are not the comics, and Stan Lee himself said that the point of Spider-man's mask is that He can be ANYONE underneath it...including Donald Glover, who has all the qualities that would make a GREAT SPIDER-MAN (though, disappointingly, Stan Lee was among those that said he should be white, because he's an old man who apparently just says a lot of stuff that he doesn't really mean).

Sorry nerds, but Tim Drake can be gay, and Spider-Man can be black.  Stop being so precious with your "continuity" and show some imagination and open-mindedness.


Alex Q said...

Amen, brother. I personally love it when DC rolls out an interesting twist on a classic character.

boo-boo-kitty said...

What a great post!

Anonymous said...

would me n awesome couple with cullen row ^^