OPINION: If Superman can be bisexual, we can hopefully all be accepted
- Credit: PA
Why are some people so frightened of anything they perceive as ‘different’?
And react with nastiness and outrage when threatened by differences? It’s usually those most in fear who react the loudest, mistaking their fear for strength of feeling about what is ‘right.’
Next generation Superman, Jon Kent, firstborn son of Kryptonian superhero Superman and news reporter Lois Lane – is coming out as bisexual in next month’s edition of the Superman comic.
Is it necessary to report it? Is it worthy of note? Surely, it’s time that comic characters reflected real life with personalities that everyone can identify with, especially young people who feel they don’t fit in, or feel different, wrestling with who they are and their place in the world.
It was reported, widely, and with celebration that, at last, there’s a superhero for everyone. There’s also been the predictable outrage that the son of the Earth's greatest hero falls for a news reporter, just like his dad, only this reporter, Jay Nakamura, is male.
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Superman exploring his identity in a romantic relationship with a man is more than unpalatable for some. It’s unacceptable, they say, muttering about going “too far” and a “gimmick.”
If it must be done (emphasis on the has to be), why not invent a new character rather than meddling with the sexuality of an established comic figure?
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So, what does that say about the objectors?
They don’t give a jot about even attempting to see life through the lens of other people, have no empathy with anyone who might feel different and doesn’t understand why they do, is struggling with their sexuality, and fearing rejection, ostracisation and isolation if they come out.
If they’ve never known anyone who has felt like a square peg in a round hole, or feels compelled to live a lie and disguise who they really are to fit in, who truly believes that to be honest about who they are, even to the people they love, let alone strangers, is a step too far because they might not be accepted, they say how can they understand?
One word. Try. It’s not hard.
For anyone who thinks it’s wrong, imagine how truly dreadful life must be to feel deeply uncomfortable to be who you are solely because you’re fearful of other people’s reactions, to feel to tell people the truth risks how other people treat you, seeing you negatively rather than (the same) person you are.
Superman Writer Tom Taylor says everyone needs heroes and “everyone deserves to see themselves in their heroes.” Publishers DC and Warner Bros embraced and shared his idea
Superman’s symbol stands for hope, truth, and justice, so who better to set out to change perceptions, challenge bigots and give people struggling the confidence to be themselves.
This issue of seeing life through a linear lens is fundamental to addressing so many inequalities and prejudice in the UK.
Like how it’s perfectly acceptable for British people to emigrate to Spain, set up ex-pat enclaves and refuse to learn to speak Spanish because “everyone speaks English here.”
But it’s not ok for Polish, Portuguese, and Lithuanian people to do the same here, even though they work here and pay their taxes like anyone else and wouldn’t dream of not learning English.
Former footballer John Barnes, author of a new book The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism, said on TV this week that our society was conditioned to think of people like them negatively - women, black people, and gay people.
It’s engrained in the British psyche, and we are programmed by experience to see different as a negative, and inferior.
The ‘norm’ is white, male, and straight – male, pale and stale. Anything else is negative.
It’s so deep rooted we need to train ourselves to think differently. Differences need to be melted. No one is worth less than or should never be made to feel they are worth less than or contribute less simply because they don’t align with the outdated conventional.
As a nation we seem to be far more comfortable with ostracisation than inclusion, isolation than embracing, which doesn’t make the UK a kind and warm place to be.
We read about suicides and the struggles of people who feel like they never fitted in, and might feel a pang of upset, but don’t think about their own views played a part in them feeling like outsiders and not good enough.
Superman’s coming out has sent US Republicans into a frenzy about two male comic book characters kissing each other. Some fans say new characters should be invented to celebrate LGBT+ identities, which will come.
When Strictly Come Dancing announced it would have single sex couples, there was uproar.
Now it looks like 2021 will be the year of the winning single sex couple after Johannes Radebe and Kai Widdrington topped the leader board with the highest score of the series so far, scoring 39 for Pirates of the Caribbean-themed pasodoble, with three ten-scores, and a sublime waltz.
When we become a society that accepts people as equal individuals and embraces differences as positive is the day when we can call ourselves civilised.
Sadly, that feels like it will be generations away.