…and apart from DC Comics making money from it, how is that any different than what the kids see when they go to the mall?
One of the traits of our society that I do admire – and there are still some – is that over time, Americans have the capacity to accept change as generations come and go. People can argue that racism still exists and to an extent, it still does, but so long as there are people, racism will always exist to one degree or another; the same goes for religious bigotry and sexism. But the prevailing attitudes change and society as a whole becomes more tolerant and what was once harassed is able to come out into the open. So it is with homosexuality. In the relatively short time frame of four decades, homosexuality has shifted out of the closet and into the mainstream consciousness as gay men and women protest and proselytize for their rights. Their road has not been easy and there’s been a tendency to flaunt their beliefs in ways that cut against still-extant Christian values, but there has been demonstrable progress.
Unless parents want to raise their kids in a compound, there’s no way to shield them from societal change. What we can do is pay attention and use the instances to teach the lessons that we want pass along our values to the kids. Our first foray into explaining homosexuality was when Eldest was in elementary school; on a trip to the mall, she saw a lesbian couple walking down the corridor with arms around one another’s waists and as they passed, she turned and watched them from behind as they walked away. The questions soon arose but our first lesson was not to stare at someone as it’s impolite. After that point was made, there was further conversation about the basic difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality. The big difference, Eldest, is that gay people find romantic interest in someone of their own sex… Regardless of whatever you believe about the issue, you have to ready and able to discuss it with them and not just turn away because it isn’t going to go away.
The point is this: DC Comics’ action is really in the interest of profit and not in empowering gay role models for impressionable young readers. As social mores shift and change, these events are going to occur and as parents, we have to aware of them and be ready to discuss it with the kids. They do see sexual identity issues amongst their peers as their friends and acquaintances – maybe even they themselves – puzzle it out, even at the elementary school level. Use the opportunity to make whatever point you want, but don’t think that you can just ban it because these developments are everywhere.
Middle and Youngest are both comic book fans and when I shared the story with them at Saturday’s dinner, their response was surprise. It didn’t make them want to avoid the character and the conversation shifted to the plot details including how there could be two Green Lanterns in alternate universes. But I thought that Hal Jordan was into women, at least he was in the movie…Where the conversation broke down was in the actual dialogue between Green Lantern and his boyfriend as the superhero described a planned date as magical; even the 10 year-old noted the incongruity between a powerful superhero and stereotypical language. Dad, why couldn’t he have just said "fabulous"?
So just a quick note to the writers at DC – if you want to shatter stereotypes and empower gay youngsters, avoid the trite terminology. You’re killing yourselves.