Pride month is a joyous and festive occasion where, for thirty days, all the gangs of the queer community band together to present themselves to the world wholeheartedly. It’s more than just a party, though. It is an act of self-declaration to a culture that has ignored them and resisted them for years. This is why visibility in the media, in literal parades and, yes, in comic books, is so important. Pride month is designed to show those struggling to just be themselves that they are not alone and that the parts of themselves they have come to fear are worth celebrating.
In 1992, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation founded a new category in its annual GLAAD Media Awards, recognizing achievement in the field of comics – and DC received the very first. DC has also been in the running since then. Since the award’s debut, the company has won eleven GLAAD Awards for Outstanding Comic Books, nearly double the number of any other publisher. Here, I’d like to share the stories of every comic under the DC banner to earn this prestigious recognition to date.
1992: the flash
In 1991, Flash writer William-Messner Loebs addressed a longtime elephant in the writer’s bedroom: the media’s tendency to attribute stereotypically gay traits to villains. In Lightning #53, reformed Flash villain Pied Piper calls him out, while confessing to Wally West himself that he is gay. This open and frank discussion of queer sexuality and coding in mainstream comics was unprecedented, while also introducing us to an openly queer character in a hero’s supporting cast. In 1992, the third GLAAD Media Awards, the flash won its first-ever recognition for Outstanding Comic Book. There were no other candidates.
1996: Metropolis SCU
From 1993 to 1995, no further awards were presented in this category, but in 1996 it was retired from retirement for another DC title, without any competition. Metropolis SCU was a four-issue limited series by Cindy Goff, Peter Grause, and José Marzan, Jr., the first mainstream title to feature an openly gay woman.
Head of Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit, Maggie Sawyer was introduced to the world of Superman in 1987 with Superman #4. His girlfriend, journalist Toby Raynes, would debut in Superman #9. In due course, Sawyer became Superman’s own Commissioner Gordon, as he liaised with local law enforcement to combat supercrime in the City of Tomorrow. But for four issues of this limited engagement, Superman would act as Maggie’s replacement. This highlighting of a queer hero was enough to permanently resurrect the Outstanding Comic Book award. Fortunately, in the future, there would be a little more competition on the field.
1997 : Death: the time of your life
Neil Gaiman and Shawn McManus The Sandman: A Game of You was a breakthrough story in 1991 for its inclusion of a lesbian couple and a trans woman in the main cast, but not without issues for its age. But as early as 1996, Gaiman found reason to revisit the troubled couple of Hazel and Foxglove with Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham in Death: the moment of your life, which brings the two back for a misadventure with Dream’s older sister.
This painful tale of death and tragedy presented a vulnerable relationship that showed that a queer romance is no less weighty than any straight romance, and that queerness itself is far from its only character. Death: the time of your life won the category the first year the award was competitive, with one of the other nominees being DC’s own Spectrum.
1999: super girl
1998 was a strong performance for DC at the GLAAD Awards, with all three finalists at the newspaper strip For the best or for the worst being DC titles (Flash, The Invisibles, Superboy and the Ravers.) DC returned to the top in 1999, for one of the weirdest explorations of sexual identity in superhero comics to date.
For its grungy version super girl, Writer Peter David reintroduced the Silver Age concept of Comet the Super Horse as a centaur-like angel of love who was forged from two souls: the gay stand-up comic and friend of Supergirl Andrea Martinez and genetic test subject Andrew Jones. It’s not a storyline without controversy, of course, with painful homophobia from Andrea’s parents and a rejected romance with Supergirl when she learns of Comet’s complex gender identity. But it’s a story that opened up conversations that mainstream comics were still afraid to address, and even tough steps toward progress are worth acknowledging. It’s about acknowledging our own internalized biases and moving forward with a more open mind.
2002-2003: The Green Lantern
In 2000, Judd Winick took over as editor of The Green Lantern for his own vision of the current torchbearer, Kyle Rayner. One of the big changes in Kyle’s life was that he had his own Jimmy Olsen. Terry Berg, Kyle’s Teen Intern Feast magazine, worked as Kyle’s art assistant for his “City Dwellers” comic. For Terry, his work among the magazine’s artists and creatives represented an escape from his school and family life, where he faced an oppressive atmosphere of homophobia.
Terry’s experience is all too familiar to those of us who had to grow up in communities that didn’t accept him and who was a relatable face at a time when one could rarely be found by readers. homosexuals. Terry’s welcome presence in The Green Lantern DC has won the GLAAD Outstanding Comic Award two years in a row, most notably in issue #154, where a vicious attack forces Kyle to confront dangerous homophobia head-on within his own community. Terry remained a regular in the ranks of the Green Lantern supporting cast, until the spotlight returned to Hal Jordan.
2004 : catwoman
Writer Ed Brubaker catwoman run is often considered the key word on Gotham’s princess of plunder, but the soul of her series was Frank Miller and Dave Mazzuchelli’s Selina’s closest friend and confidante. batman: first year, Holly Robinson. A former sex worker, Holly was taken in by Selina and left street life behind for a number of reasons, one of which, presumably, was that she was gay. Holly’s homosexuality and her relationship with girlfriend Karon are thoughtfully explored in the relatively calm but psychologically charged “No Easy Way Down”, where Holly must come to terms with herself after enduring a traumatic experience where she was forced to take a life. After six action-packed first issues, the transition in both art and tone, courtesy of Javier Pulido, is shocking, but no less shocking than Holly’s own experience. This mature, contemplative story of Holly’s inner life earned DC the GLAAD Award for the third year in a row.
2010 & 2012: Detective comics, Batwoman
While DC would maintain a presence at the GLAAD Awards for the next six years, it’s a healthy sign of industry growth that the category has become increasingly competitive. DC scored its next victory at the dawn of the next decade when Greg Rucka and JH Williams III stormed the flagship Detective comics title with a new main character: Kate Kane, the Batwoman. Unlike the original Batwoman, introduced in the Silver Age to present Batman with a more heterosexual veneer, this new Batwoman was Bruce Wayne’s openly queer cousin who was kicked out of the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Politics. (I couldn’t be happier that this origin story is getting more and more stale as time goes on. Frankly, it’s a good problem to have.)
Kate eventually had to hand over the reins of the series to Batman, but she would return in 2011 with her own comic book series through a returning JH Williams III starring W. Haden Blackman. This time, Batwoman enjoyed a new romance with former GLAAD Award winner Maggie Sawyer, now established on the beat of Gotham City.
2019: Exit, place on the left! The Snagglepuss Chronicles
The late 2010s at DC introduced a line of comics inspired by the Hanna Barbera cartoon, from a madmax-fragrant Wacky races has a Mad Men-fragrant Flintstones. But perhaps most surprising of all is that of Mark Russell and Mike Feehan. Snagglepuss treatment, which recast the foppish pink lion as a mid-century playwright a la Tennessee Williams, battling the twin specters of McCarthyist communist hunting and the violent homophobic atmosphere that led to the Stonewall Riots. Under the guise of a cartoon cat, Exit, place on the left! presented a true and powerful account of repressed queerness in America and a message that the only way forward is to stand and fight in solitude with the next generation where too few have stood for the last.
2022: Crush & Lobo
number eight Crush & Lobo The 2021 series shone the spotlight on the Teen Titans’ Czarnian lesbian disaster, Xiomara Rojas, known to her teammates and a few treasured friends as Crush. Serial, Crush & Lobo reunited Crush with his absolute wretched father for an intergalactic caper, while working out his own issues with commitment and intimacy. It was also, notably, one of the first series to come out of DC Pride last year.
Maybe what makes Crush & Lobo so special is that although it was born out of a month-long celebration for queer voices and perspectives, its continued run represented a promise to keep this representation alive throughout the year. This is the insidious queer agenda you may have heard of – the blueprint of the LGBTQIA+ community is simply to exist in public without fear and to encourage other members of the community who may feel diminished than They are not alone. It’s as vital a cause today as it was thirty years ago, making the GLAAD Media Awards one of the highest honors there is. And one that every editor, writer, artist, editor, and comic book fan can be proud of.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about superhero TV, movies, comics and history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find it in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.