I apologize in advance for the rambling mess this post is likely to be, but I was too excited to not write about this. The news was announced a few days ago that the new Superman, Jon Kent, is bisexual. He is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, and, for the time being at least, has taken on the Superman mantle while his father is away. If interested, you can find out more about this new comic and the news about Jon Kent here.
It is hard to put into words exactly what this means to me. I’ve adored Superman since I was a small child, and he, along with Spider-Man, have been my favorite superheroes for as long as I can remember. I think I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but I don’t remember seeing any representation for bi+ people while growing up, at least not positive representation. Queer people in general, and especially bi+ men, were either absent completely or vilified in almost every medium. Now that I read quite a bit of stories involving bi+ men, I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been to see positive representation such as this from an early age. I grew up thinking I was unnatural and broken in some way for being different and hated myself for it for a long time. If I had seen or read something like this comic as a child or teenager, I truly think it would have made a world of difference in how I perceived myself. I could see my younger self thinking if Clark Kent’s son is bi, that must mean it’s not an awful thing to be. The power in that realization is huge, and I’m excited that the young people of today will have a completely different, and hopefully better, experience than I did, thanks in large part to representation like the character of Jon Kent.
I also want to spend a bit of time breaking down my thoughts to the negative reactions I’ve seen online to this announcement. I’ve seen the people who are against this announcement fall largely into two major camps. First, there are the people who say they don’t want to see the sexuality of characters in comic books. What they really mean is they don’t want to see queer sexuality that deviates from the heterosexist norms in comic books. I don’t remember ever seeing negative reactions to Lois and Clark having a relationship and having kids. So, clearly the problem these people have is with queerness, not sexuality itself, which shows them to be the bigots they are. Second, many people have argued that including topics related to sexuality/relationships, especially queerness, is somehow harmful to young children or something they shouldn’t be viewing. This is absolute BS for the double standard described in the previous point, but it is also problematic because the messaging many kids get that being queer is wrong starts long before adolescence. I knew I was bi from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the words to express it yet. Therefore, having representation like this for teenagers and children is vitally important to combat the damage to queer kids from prevalent heterosexist messages they are already inundated with from an extremely young age.
I also want to point out one more thing before I get off my soap box. When people leave horrible comments or say terrible things about new representation like this, the people being represented can be harmed by that. As I mentioned earlier, I hated myself for a long time and thought awful things about myself because of my sexual orientation. When I would see comments online in the past like some I’ve seen in response to this announcement (e.g., This is disgusting and unnatural), they would often just reinforce the negative things I already thought about myself. There’s a reason many queer, and especially bi+, people face negative mental health outcomes, and seeing demeaning things like these comments/reactions definitely plays a part. So, please consider the potential hurtful impact before going on a bigoted rant about a part of someone’s identity. I know that’s probably wishful thinking, but I wanted to put it out there nonetheless.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, thank you for reading. Now go buy Superman: Son of Kal-El! 🙂