Green Lantern and a new definition of “reality”

Green Lantern is gay.

And no, that’s not an opinion of the Ryan Reynolds movie.

This week it was revealed that Green Lantern is a homosexual. For those of you don’t know, Green Lantern is a comic book character with a power ring that can create solid constructs (a sword, a car, a large fist, etc.) based on his imagination to create and his willpower to create it.

Headlines have said,  “Green Lantern comes out of the closet” but that’s not entirely accurate. He was never in a closet—the subject was just never addressed. DC Comics (who publish Green Lantern) did a reboot of the super-hero universe and they decided to make this new incarnation of Green Lantern gay. This ends a few months of speculation after DC leaked that one of their major superheroes would be homosexual. There were lots of geeks talking about which one it might be. Me, I thought it was going to be Aquaman. There was always something fishy about that guy…

People concerned that a gay Green Lantern will encourage homosexual behavior, especially among young people, clearly haven’t watched an episode of Glee which is seen regularly by way more people than will read the comic. But GL being gay is a culturally significant statement, especially at a time when the popularity of the super-hero genre is at an all time high.

It’s not that Green Lantern is the first homosexual superhero (or villian) in the comic book world, though he is certainly one of the first “A-list” superheroes to be so. Marvel comics made news a few weeks ago when they announced that one of the X-Men (Northstar, a Canadian superhero who was one of the first heroes to be portrayed as a homosexual back in 1992) was getting married to his boyfriend. But in researching this blog I discovered that the first comic book homosexual marriage has already happened in… Archie Comics? (To which the world replied, “They still make those?”) But neither of the couples in Archie or Marvel has the kind of popularity that Green Lantern does.

The New York Post interviewed James Robinson, the head writer for Green Lantern:

Robinson, a British writer who lives in San Francisco with his wife, is no stranger to gay characters – he wrote DC’s “Starman” comic in the 1990s, a groundbreaking title that starred a homosexual superhero. He said the only agenda he’s pushing is reality.

“It’s a realistic depiction of society,” he said. “You have to move with the times.”

In my opinion, I think Robinson is being honest. Though I’m sure everyone at DC Comics are happy for the publicity (look for the Green Lantern logo to be quickly embraced by the gay community) I don’t think this is a publicity stunt. People who are homosexually active are a part of life and the writer wants to portray “reality.”

But it’s obviously not a real reality. It’s a reality where people have superpowers and wear tights. And though there are real homosexuals in the world, it’s rarely they are portrayed in a “real” way.

The same goes with heterosexuals. How many sitcoms show characters sleeping with one person or another, never dealing with the emotional or physical consequences of their actions? Over the past decade, we (media consumers) have all come to accept and expect a faux-reality of storytelling. Female lawyers are always hot. Crime investigations usually lead to a strip club. Sexual partners can be changed as quickly as clothes. People actually laugh at the dumb jokes written for the Disney Channel.

Sexually active people almost never get STDs (even though the CDC estimates that 19 million people get them each year.) Matters of faith are rarely dealt with. It is often the unspoken assumption that God doesn’t exist (as much as I loved The Hunger Games, notice how nobody facing their imminent death said a prayer for help or mercy?)

And here’s something you’ll never see from this “reality”: Some people with homosexual attractions can be freed from them through therapy.

There is still a lot we don’t know about where homosexual impulses come from. It could very well be that some people are born with them. But it is also the case, often unsaid, that many people develop homosexual attractions through the conditioning and experiences of their childhood.

As I’ve traveled around the country, often speaking on men’s issues, I have met a few men who, because of things in their past, ended up being homosexually active. These men gave their lives to Christ and went through counseling. And now they are happily married now and grateful for people who spoke the truth to them. (An example of one man’s testimony to this can be found here.)

Statements like those above are abhorrent to the gay community and I understand why. To say someone can be “cured” of homosexuality infers that being gay is a disease. They believe that homosexual attractions should be embraced, not questioned. It should be accepted, even celebrated, by society. People who think otherwise are close-minded and bigoted. People who suggest homosexual inclinations can be “cured” should be silenced. Homosexual activity should be seen as normal as heterosexual activity.

But it’s not. The truth is this: homosexuals cannot have “sex,” at least in the classic definition of it. They can simulate it, but not replicate it. They can engage in “oral sex” or “anal sex” but not “sex.” It is clear that the male and female body were created for each other—they have complimentary genitalia that can bring about a positive result: the creation of life. Such complementarity does not exist between members of the same sex.

And yet we don’t think about people involved in homosexual activity as “virgins” (as we might with a heterosexual person who hasn’t “gone all the way”) because as a culture we’ve redefined what “sex” means. And because we as a society have become used to having a false definition of sex (thanks in part to the unreal reality portrayed by the media,) many now push for a false redefinition of marriage.

Here is a key part of the Church’s argument against gay marriage. It’s not that marriage is a right that homosexuals are kept from receiving. Marriage is a reality that homosexuals can’t do. Humanity’s understanding of marriage preceded civilization and the government doesn’t have the “right” to change it.

I have said in a previous post how I feel that there are those in the Christian community who have much to atone for in the way they have dealt with people with homosexual attractions. And while I certainly feel that people shouldn’t be bullied or discriminated against because of their homosexual attractions or the decisions they make because of those attractions, that doesn’t mean I have to accept it as a “good” nor vote for policies that condone it. Loving and treating people with homosexual attractions with dignity doesn’t mean we need to accept homosexual activity as good.

Of course, as a Christian I’m operating with a different definition for the word “good.” The way the world often decides right and wrong is simple:

If you enjoy it and it doesn’t hurt anybody, then it’s good.

That is different from the Christian foundation of morality, spoken by Jesus:

Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

How did Christ love us? He loved us enough to speak the truth to us. Jesus accepted people where they were but loved them too much to let them stay there. He said what needed to be said, even though His words caused Him to be rejected and crucified. People who preach what Christ preached shouldn’t expect any different reaction.

Why not just “live and let live?” The answer is because that wouldn’t be the loving thing to do. Truths revealed by God are not restrictive. It’s just the opposite: “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) There are many men and women who are trapped in homosexual behaviors and are told there is no hope for anything different. But that’s not true. There is hope. It can be a difficult road and everyone’s journey is different, but there is hope.

Using his power ring, Green Lantern changes reality using his imagination and willpower. It’s fitting that he’s the first major superhero to be gay because that’s exactly what advocates for homosexual behavior are trying to do. We who have received God’s Word can’t stay silent lest we allow fiction to masquerade as fact and abandon people, created for truth, to live in lies. It’s hard to speak that truth in love because many will take it as hateful, but we have a responsibility to try.

8 Comments

  1. What are we to do when our comics and our TV shows start giving into the social pressure of homosexuality or care-free sex? Should I stop collecting comics? Do I buy all the VeggieTales DVD’s and keep it clean? Do I dare go into the unknown world of Christian Comics? O_o

    I’ve successfully found music that will not compromise with the downgrading trends of pop culture, but now that TV shows and Comics are getting very “liberal”…. where am I supposed to find healthy entertainment?

    Where do you, as a parent and a geek, draw the line of what is entertaining and not harmful for you and your family?

  2. Bob,

    I want to thank you for sharing. Your posts are very educational and I am learning some things that I didn’t understand. They are encouraging me to be a better man of God. So thank you.

    Also, I just finished your book Between the Savior and the Sea. It was amazing! The love you showed and described between Jesus and Peter left me wanting that relationship. I want that more than ever and I am searching for a deeper meaning. Your story encouraged me to begin reading the bible. I cannot wait to find a more deeper, intimate understanding of what being Catholic means.

    Dustin

  3. NOOOO I was just about to buy a green lantern shirt but now I can’t bear to buy it.

  4. I like that comparison of GL bending/altering reality with Willpower and what Society has done with the perception of the norm. I did not think of that. Here is a couple other thoughts of mine sorrounding this.

    I also find it interesting that the Green Lantern whom they made to be Gay, was not the Hal Jordon of the movie (which is the main Green Lantern now), nor Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner or Jon Stewart…all much more popular and famous GL’s. Rather it was Alan Scott.
    Alan who? Alan Scott was the original GL in the 1940’s and has sparsely appeared in comics since the late 1960’s. He was the blonde-haired GL with the cape and red shirt for those who have seen it. It was also revealed that his son, Obsidian, was gay back in the 90’s.
    When DC recently killed off the little known son of such a forgotten character, and just “rebooted” his series, they decided to make the father Gay.

    Couple more geek vignettes to shed some light and create discussion.
    1 – It turns out Alan Scott is still married and has children, but it is revealed that he is Gay when he is seen kissing a guy (without further explaination and just assumed).
    2 – All this is revealed with the reboot, that actually takes place in an “alternate universe” with an “alternate earth”.

    So, the fact that its a “small” title in the DC Universe, that reveals a lesser known GL to have a homosexual partner, doesn’t change the reality altering views of society reflected in comics and its impact on young lives. It could be the small subverse thing made for subterfuge on this playing field. Eventually leading to an actual major character and title where the plot centers around it.

    Also, the idea that this is not “our earth” or “our universe”…within the DC Universe that is, opens up the doors for so many things. Is this a John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance” alternate reality for what could be in another world compared to ours? Or the ‘Comptom’ to “our universe” being the ‘Hamptoms’? Is this alternate universe, even real? or Something that will be destroyed (by their own undoing or by outside repressive forces)? See where I am going with this?

    With it being an “old character” from the 40’s…..and with him still being married with children…will they be taking the “Rock Hudson” approach to his life and times and sexuality? Exploring the repression of the older generations sexuality? Or will it be a chivalrous conservative facing the temptations and sexual tribulations of modern day society (much as this original GL did back in the 40’s).

    Alot of questions to think about with this topic. Not enough answers.
    Ultimately, I think that this was a rushed job that DC talked about possibly doing for a while, but needed immediacy due to the “hype” Marvel made around the mutant Gay Wedding with Norstar. I think they did this, because if it flops or gets backlash, they (DC) can easily push it aside and move on, or make him a more prominant figure, depending on the feedback they get.
    I think a good thing to remember, is with Comics, as with many other things (if not more so), much of the plot and decisions is based on consumer feedback. If you don’t like it, let them know, let them know why and then hit them where it hurts….don’t buy it (really dropping the value of the comic). If you don’t think that consumers have MORE of a say in the comic industry, then all i have to do is point to this…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_A_Death_in_the_Family
    (especially the part of at the bottom of Jason Todd being unpopular and voted by consumers to be killed).

    As with many other things, I also believe that if it becomes morally offensive, then don’t buy it. With the comic industry though, it can be difficult, as the “company’ may have one agenda or policy, while the individual artists and writers that change every 3-10 months now for every title have a different agenda or personal belief contrary to the “company.” And yes, its true there has got to be someone within the “company” that handles it and approves it before going to press with it and after the artists quills the final page.
    While you would not buy a Playboy because there is one good guy who only writes articles, but one bad apple does ruin the whole bunch. So it becomes hard to pick and choose.

    One last thought about this topic, as it is often talked about with it. Unbridled acceptance and allowance of any sexual deviancy becomes a pathway for allowing more sexual deviancy to become the social standard. So would we be upset (and what message would we convey) if it was uncovered that Batman (and Robin) was a NAMBLA propaganda machine? And those were their “urges”…so it must be ok to be a focal point. When will there be plots that solely center around sexuality? How will that be any different than a porno comic? We aren’t there…yet…but its seen with other forms of media and that downard trend.

    Personally, I read comics, for the plot and action and thought provoking ideas, that are conveyed in words and images that sometimes escape a written book or film. As much action is shown in each drawing panel and words that are written on each page, there is 10 times the room for imagination and thinking of the 100 angles and ways we got from Panel 1 to Panel 2 (in a similar fashion books paint the imagination, with an added unspoken imagery of film/tv that is melded together in a very artistic and stimulating way). When those things become ‘sexuality’ driven, it is no longer a comic, but an animated porno. No one really cares about the date that Bruce Wayne had friday night, or about Peter Parker’s latest crush….they care about Two-Face busting down the door and the Dark Knight alter-ego making an appearance, or Doc Octopus putting Spider-Man in a quandry that cheeky one-liners can’t save him from. Those that are/were interested in the Bruce Wayne’s date, really are more interested in the animated porno.

    So, I think its a good, right thing to take a stand and make an opinion about what you want to see in your Comic and other forms of media. The annoying thing is that its not a “bigoted” thing to be against “smut” of any kind in your media (whether comics or news or TV or Radio). And this is totally different than being supportive or against anything the gay community is about. You wouldn’t be watching/reading something if it dropped the F-bomb every 4 seconds. You don’t see people with tourettes complaining about censorship on the news, nor do you see “foul-mouthed” slack-jaws taking to the streets about their words being bleeped out on the latest episode of COPS. They may not like it, they may not agree with it, but they respect it, and yet still do what they do, and actually understand why its done and people are against it. Albeit the gay community is nothing like those with tourettes or a “foul-mouthed” slack-jaw, and it is a bad comparison, but will they be respectful and acknowledge that most people & families don’t want sex in every part of the media? Regardless of sexuality? I know I don’t want hetero as much as homo sexuality in my media.

    -Avid Comic Geek and Catholic Church Goer
    (and sorry to those with tourrettes, as i know its uncontrollable)

  5. Bob, I just spent a good hour or more reading through your blog posts, preparing for an upcoming talk, & soaking up the inspired goodness that happens when Bob Rice says “yes” to the Holy Spirit working through him. 15 years later, I’m stil in awe and feel incredibly blessed that God allows me to refine my ministry skills through my first youth minister. Thank God for technology, and thank you for being you. Your gifts are touching lives and reaching the corners of this earth in a powerful way. Keep fighting the good fight.

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