Is Batman Gay? Grant Morrison says ‘Yes’

A rare Bob Kane Batman collage

DC Comics writer Grant Morrison’s words are making the rounds in the news in various places that Batman is gay.

“Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay.”

What’s obviously happening here is a modern interpretation of a late 1930’s creation. There’s an uncomfortable feeling that some adults have when viewing Batman running around with a little kid and they jump to the conclusion that not only is Batman gay, but he’s a pedophile as well. Not only is that incorrect, it’s an insult to the character, Bob Kane… and the gay community come to think of it.

In a radio interview, Bob Kane gleefully spoke of how initial ideas for Batman came from his own experience as a young gang member. He would put on a mask and run around in the junkyard. He especially liked climbing up high and looking down at the others, planning his next moves like a certain caped crusader.

Robin softened the grim detective image of Batman, but he was also an extension of Bob Kane’s swashbuckling life as a young boy, living out the non-stop adventure fantasy. There was no real threat from the villains, Robin literally laughed in their faces.

To insinuate that Batman has a fetish to dress up in an elaborate costumes is an interpretation of the character informed by the reader or critic, not be the work itself. While the notion that Batman and Robin are gay icons may intriguing or amusing to a modern audience, it was threatening to psychologist Fredric Wertham who used the argument against Batman comics, saying that they were perverting the minds of children. “Batman stories are psychologically homosexual.”

Wertham’s and Morrison’s words seem all too similar and I’d like to believe that’s a misinterpretation on my part.

Morrison is a very intelligent guy and mild-mannered in person. He has also written several forward-thinking comics such as the Invisibles, We3 and Doom Patrol. His assertion that Batman is patently gay is likely an attempt to drum up some press rather than a statement driven by his own opinion.

One could argue that Batman embraces his ‘real self’ in a sexy skin-tight costume as an embodiment of his true sexuality, his ‘real self.’ The necessity of a secret identity, something that many comic book superheroes on the page and in film have done away with, seems to stick with Batman. He avoids helping anyone or using his abilities without dressing up first simply because he must maintain his secret life. But that’s more of an indicator of deep psychological trauma than a secret sexual identity. If Batman were gay, he’d just accept it. He knows what he is.

If you want to look for proof that Batman is gay, just take a glance at Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and follow-up Batman and Robin. Both films feature Batman and Robin separated by about a decade at best. Dick Grayson loses his parents and instead of moving on, starts living with Bruce Wayne, the creepy bachelor who lives far away from the city (never mind that he is also hunted by the alluring psychologist Nicole Kidman… because it jars with the Bruce/Dick relationship that dominates the rest of the film… maybemaybe Schumacher is saying Brucr is bi-sexual and not ready to settle?).

Their rippling costumes festooned with rock-hard abs and nipples that stand to attention… it’s just too easy to point out that this is a fetishistic sexual fantasy of two young fit men. It also fits the rave party fantasy that Morrison’s argument eludes to.

But Schumacher’s Batman has little to nothing to do with the actual comic book.

Robin in the comics was a child with nowhere to go after his parents were killed, so Bruce took him on as his ward. Granted, the father/son relationship gets fuzzy as Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and the other Robins have aged while Bruce remains in his mid-30’s. The current Robin is the nine year-old child of Bruce Wayne, possibly to help remove any thought of a sexual relationship from the minds of readers.

In line with the wild and swashbuckling fantasy of Bob Kane’s Batman, the theme of the man that got away is played out in several superhero comics. In Batman, he shies away from the embrace of many ladies, but is caught by a few as well such as Batwoman.

To a modern reader the endless scenarios in which Superman, Batman and Captain America actively avoid women are hilarious, especially in the case of Superman escaping Lois Lane’s advances. In the case of Captain America, it often seems as if Steve Rogers is trying to keep Bucky from experiencing a woman’s company. So great is this that it’s laughable, but again built on a common juvenile male conceit that girls are ‘icky’ rather than an intention of the creators to present gay superheroes. Simon and Kirby were NOT that ahead of their time.

And just as others have pointed to the goofy 1940’s comics for proof that Batman is gay, let me just do the same as Robin supports my argument on the printed page.

11 thoughts on “Is Batman Gay? Grant Morrison says ‘Yes’

  1. This is the same kind of thinking that leads to the Bert & Ernie (Sesame St if I really needed to remind people) are gay conversations.

    It kind of does a disservice all the way around from actual gay people who might take offense, to the creators of the stories, and to the readers of those stories. A homo-phobic person might turn away from a comic for no reason, or a young gay person might look for symbolism that isn’t there to shape his/her decisions. There are some gay comic characters… but I don’t remember people starting rumors that those characters are secretly straight! Looking for stuff that isn’t there seems to be a specialty for people who read things.


  2. Jameson you are entirely right that Morrison was doing this for publicity’s sake, crafting his statement for morons. It reminds me of the more meretricious aspects of his Supergods book where his tiresomely reiterated “radical” or punk hipsterisms clash with what are really quite conservative and conformist attitudes such as his “I’m All Right, Jack” take on Siegel & Schuster’s fates. The idea that the concepts behind Batman are essentially gay is such a pathetic and boring one it does have the effect of making Morrison seem rather maladroit for even mentioning it. “It’s, like, so passe, y’know”.
    Now, there’s no denying that aspects of Batman lore are entertainingly camp but *specifically* “gay”? Silly. It’s notable that the notion of “wearing masks” and assuming identities can have gay resonances but those ideas extend in a metaphorical fashion far beyond boundaries of sexuality and only stick-in-the-muds and those with extremely boring views of how a person should feel, look, or act would deny it. Who would have thought Grant could be so *boring*?!
    Implying that Bruce having Dick (Bruce needs Dick?!) as his ward is gay reminds me of Wertham’s hilarious and ridiculous statement that this was “the wish-dream of two homosexuals” and it’s offensive because it further implies that being gay and being a paedophile are *somehow* the same thing, is Morrison really a fifth columnist for the conservatives?! Ha. Shut Up, Grant! (maybe he’s competing with Millar to be the Most Annoying Scottish Self-Promoter in Comics?)
    That was my “Thought” for the Day… You’re Welcome!


    • “it further implies that being gay and being a paedophile are *somehow* the same thing”- yes, that is incredibly offensive. It’s insane that he can not only say that but feel justified in doing so.


      • Sadly, there does seem to be a segment of society that feels the two things are synonymous. I’ve had that argument many times with people, until I’ve finally gotten tired of beating my head into the wall trying to convince people to confront their own ignorance.


  3. @dailypop, too true. I don’t think much thinking was involved on his part or else he wouldn’t spout such asinine nonsense.
    @sjv – Jeez, that’s depressing. I’m reading Robert B. Parker’s Looking For Rachel Wallace and in it the character of Ms Wallace – who is a lesbian activist and writer – is asked stupid questions about the morality of a hypothetical lesbian teacher tutoring girls as if lesbian and paedophile were the same thing or straight girls would be “made” gay, it’s true to life idiocy. The thing is, that book was published in 1980! You’d hope attitudes like that wouldn’t be prevalent now. Interestingly Rachel asks “if the teacher’s sexual preference is so persuasive to his or her students, why aren’t gays made straight by exposure to heterosexual teachers?” tellingly the dim bulb interviewer doesn’t listen. By the way it’s a really good smart Spenser mystery but then many of them are particularly the earlier novels. Well, that’s my off topic ramble of the day.


  4. I always suspected nancy drew was lesbian even when I was eleven years old, devouring her adventure books. No other young lady just drove around in a terrific roadster with her girlfriend solving crime! She didn’t focus on males as love objects and consider all but her own father to be a silly nuisance.

    Now the Hardy Boys, could someone help us out here! Lone Ranger and Tonto? Ironsides with his handsome
    Black young male helper!???


    • Those would all be statements that you are bringing to the characters, not what the creator had in mind, however.

      Except for Lone Ranger, obv., who was totally in love with his horse.


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