My best friend in college, like most of my ex-girlfriends, was a closeted lesbian. One night, she confessed this to me as we sat back to back on a friend's living room floor, drunk, trying to keep each other's hair from getting ruined. She said she would never tell anyone, that she'd get married to a nice man and maintain a straight image because it would be better for her career.

She seemed disappointed that I gave no protest, no lip service about not living the lie and being true to yourself. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Me in my Superfriends t-shirt and Spider-man arm warmers. Who was I to pontificate about the evils of the closet? All of my heroes lived inside of it. Also, I was kind of in love with her, and there was really no way I was going to convince her not to marry that guy without letting that slip.

The Batman of the 40's was gayer than Elton John using a time machine to go back and make sweet sweet love to Elton John. He lived in a mansion with his young ward and dandified butler, free from the judgement of his late parents and the financial and social obligations that come with marriage. His clothes were flamboyant, his lifestyle was lavish, and his life was so soaked in male energy you could fry bacon in the drippings. But then came the Lavender Scare, and Bruce Wayne was told if he wasn't a Communist he would quit the queering around. Dammit, didn't he realize that little boys were reading his adventures?
Think of the children.

Good Christian boys growing up to be homosexual vigilantes, taking the law and their sexual identity into their own hands (or the hands of a steamy young sidekick). Being gay was the first step to being a comrade. Got to get them while they're young. The identity, the true Bat-Self was stored away in the Bat-Closet, kept in a shoebox with the sanity of 50's America. Bruce and Dick got girlfriends, left real crimefighting to the police, chasing after costumed vandals while telling kids to be good, brush their teeth and keep their noses clean. A man fed on danger and justice his whole life was being asked to shit out domestic nuclear values. All to keep their jobs, all to keep the increasingly-concerned public from boycotting their books, movies, and merchandise. Doing what the man with the government salary says is moral is good for the bottom line.

Go on and ask Superman why he married in a church. See if he'll tell you about his Jewish heritage. Or how he reonciles the fact that Lois is so wholly devoted to him that she didn't recognize him with his glasses off, managed to get into a love triangle with his own fucking alter ego. What's it like being in a relationship with someone you can't be physical with, lest you break them in half? Is that frustrating? Wouldn't you want a partner more compatible with your alien biology, anyway? All the women in the universe and you'd pick the one who can't tell you If this marriage was any more convenient I'd be able to buy a slushie from it. What does it say on the marriage certificate? Is Clark Kent married to Lois Lane or just the American lifestyle?

Would the champion of Truth, Justice, and the American Way tell the truth about the American Way? The pressure to settle down, find a steady job, perhaps a dog, even if it has super powers. There's no time to explore yourself or realize your dreams. Being able to touch the sun doesn't make you special. Even the Man of Steel has to keep his hair trim and be at work at 9am. Even the Last Son of Krypton needs a steady girl. Clark Kent isn't a disguise, it's a uniform. A diguise is something you wear when you don't want to get caught. Who the fuck cares if Superman is seen riding the subway? It's the uniform of vanilla America. They'll bury him in that uniform and every one of us if we'd only get our fucking acts together. Have your identity crisis on your own time. Identity is bad for business. You want to be different, you want to be unique, do it at home. Or better yet, don't do it at all. If Superman can adhere to the dress code, so can you.

Generations raised to believe in the closet. To desire it. We've learned to equate the closet with success. Superman became the world's greatest hero with the personality of a turkey sandwich. Batman is on his 8th major motion picture and he's never even known what it's like to love. Maybe if Wonder Woman could have the whole “lesbian S&M” angle she wouldn't be waiting until 2011 for a live action motion picture. And now The Mouse is in bed with Jean Grey. They say the darkness will be lifted. Spider-Man will renege on his deal with The Devil, and The Punisher tried for his heinous crimes. The grit of the Marvel Universe will be scrubbed clean to make way for singing birds and Pixar movie deals. The horrors of the Comics Code Authority will be relived in glorious color. We will see a new age of gender and sexual oppression.

There will be no more heroes anymore. Only action figures and Halloween costumes.
Everyone will settle down, get themselves a nice opposite sex marriage and buy American cars. Try not to think of “Civil War” as a metaphor for “coming out”, it will only make the subsequent gentrification more painful and pathetic to watch.
The time for ironically appreciating white bread Americana is over. We must destroy the closet. Dismantle it. Burn the pieces.

Create our own heroes, forge our own mythology. We must succeed where the heroes of our childhood had failed. Find a comic retailer who sells LGBT-friendly or LGBT-created comic books and support the shit out of them.

Or better yet, create your own. Make friends. Create your own stories. Sell them on street corners. Or don't. Who gives a shit. It's just comic books, right?

Corporations will always be like this. Might as well make the most of it. If we cared enough in the first place Bush wouldn't have made it to a second term.

I think of her sometimes, when I flip through the pages of old Justice League books. I still cannot for the life of me remember how, in spite of all my superhero training, managed to stumble out of the closet. I wish I knew. I'd go back for her. Whatever that means.

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