The Black Perspective: Black Heroes and the LGBT Community

                                                      black perspective lgbt 1

Recently Marvel announced the addition of David Alleyne, a.k.a. Prodigy to their Young Avengers line-up. The addition of Prodigy was a welcome one…at first. Marvel announced later that Prodigy has now revealed that he is bi-sexual! This news caused an uproar with WOBH fans and black comic readers alike. The comments regarding the news ranged from comic companies forcing LGBT themes/characters on kids to the feminization of Black males to this being a representation of the population. Some mentioned the unfinished relationship with the mutant Surge as the reason for disappointment in the announcement, while others had no opinion. The news comes as no surprise coming from Marvel, who last year had the very public wedding of the Canadian mutant Northstar; who is recognized as the first gay character at Marvel; to an African-American male, named Kyle Jinadu. Northstar was created in 1979 with hints of his sexuality appearing in 1983 and confirmed in 1992.

So why the uproar? As mentioned, some fans felt as if society in general, and comics specifically, are forcing the LGBT themes on children. But what is the basis for this? Is there evidence that there is a proliferation of LGBT heroes appearing and replacing the straight heroes? It should be pointed out here that the first gay character appeared in 1941. His appearance not only signaled the acknowledgement of that segment of the population, but also tested the waters as to the success of such a character. The character appeared under the DC comics company. From that time until now, DC has consistently been in the forefront of featuring such characters, and is recognized as having the most LGBT characters in their own titles. Although Northstar was created in 1979, during the 80’s Editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter was in charge over at Marvel, and it was a well-known fact that he had a “no gays in Marvel comics” policy, even though Editor Joe Quesada said no such policy exists. black lgbtNot only were there “unwritten” polices like that at work, there was the Comic Code Authority, whose tight policing of comics monitored the interactions of all characters and character behavior, and regulated it. This policing usually resulted in LGBT characters being assimilated into the larger heterosexual community. With these facts in place, to say that LGBT characters are being “forced” on our kids is a stretch. Also, with the inception of the ratings system, books deemed to be “more mature” are rated so as kids shouldn’t be exposed to them.

When speaking specifically about the race of Prodigy, and his character now being turned into a LGBT character, fans point to this as being another example of the feminization of black males, although this is usually reserved for conversations concerning black males in film. Whether or not this has merit in the comic industry, I can’t say; I will say that of the numerous black hero characters that I personally follow and collect, I have not noticed this; as for films/movies; I will keep my eye out on this point. I have noticed a societal trend. That trend places more emphasis on men and grooming habits, as well as styles of dress, referring to these men as “metrosexuals”. The label, to some, is threatening enough, but it is not to be confused with homosexuality. The feminization does not come from this trend, but from the stereotype that is perpetuated throughout the black community regarding men, and hence makes any who do not fit the stereotypical description as being outside the said community. Then again, maybe it is true. With roles that are well-defined and engrained into the consciousness of the black community, maybe this behavior lies outside what is acceptable and serves only to weaken said roles and keep the community unstable. Who knows which is right?

Comics have also dealt with social issues. Its history is rich with books and characters that have addressed a plethora of social topics. No one is immune. Even the Black Panther had to deal with drugs in Wakanda, and Steel’s battles with the gangs in Washington D.C. launched his career. black lgbt1Who could forget the images of Superman or Spiderman as they peered at the destruction of 911? One of the saddest examples is that of Jim Wilson; trusted confidant of the Hulk; contracting and eventually dying of AIDS. Given this, it is not surprising that comics have dealt with the LGBT community. While limited at the big 2 (DC/Marvel) companies like Malibu, Image and Dark Horse have taken it on and been successful with it. There are even companies like Prism Comics who deal in books that exclusively promote LGBT comics and creators.

Back in the Marvel universe, it is widely recognized that its mutant population is the representation of how society treats its minorities. The minority most associated with this has always been the black community; this is even acknowledged in issue 3 of the “District X’ series by the mutant Bishop. He states plainly, “Being a mutant is like being black. You can be a black checkout clerk or the black heavyweight champion of the world, but first thing you are is black.” Powerful words, and true for both black people and mutants, but in recent times, it has grown to represent the LGBT community as well. This association mirrors the attitude of a segment of society which relates the real life struggle of the LGBT community with that of the black community. Both oppressed, both discriminated against. Both suffering from violence and injustice, the comparisons are fair. Some still insist that you cannot look at a person and tell they are LGBT, but you know a black person when you see them. This attitude may seemingly disregard the plight of the LGBT community, or may minimalize it, but it is just as valid as the other view, and cannot, itself, be dismissed. Society’s view, or more so, the fans view of comics, also has a major influence.  Editors of comics which prominently feature LGBT characters note that it is often the fans who determine the direction of its characters, and the writers are either pushed on or pushed back from what they will do. This is true for a lot of things and cannot be overlooked. After all, it is the fans that purchase the material, and the goal is to sell the books. black lgbt2

The inclusion of LGBT characters in comics in not new. It is something the comic book companies have done; albeit at a lesser degree during the reign of the Comics Code Authority, for decades. The development of the characters and the exploration of their relationships mirror the acceptance of its community by society. Is it a trend? Comics are a fickle sort. No longer are stories of gang violence and drugs prevalent in the books. The mention of a character contracting AIDS no longer carries the fear and stigmatisms that prompted so many stories. Will this fade as well? I doubt it. As long as there are heroes that aren’t trying to bed every woman while in their secret identity or the woman warrior raised on an island of women (isn’t it funny how that same assumption isn’t made when it’s a man) there will be at least rumors of LGBT characters. If there are indeed LGBT characters, then, as one WOBH fan inquired, wouldn’t it make sense that a teen who may question his sexual identity, be included in a group of teens who would accept him for who he is and not shun him for his sexual orientation? If comics truly mirror society, wouldn’t the acceptance of LGBT characters become more and more common, instead of hiding them in the group? Like it or not, it makes a lot of sense, and when you think about it, if only teens in real life had such a diverse yet accepting group of kids to hang out with (and fight crime with to boot!), and the accomplishments of a hero are based on merit and not outer appearance or who they date or marry. Want a sign that things are changing? Look no further than the new Hub network carton named Shezow! The adventures of a boy who turns into a superwoman! Ready or not world, here it comes!

Here is the list of Black LGBT heroes we know in comics:

Marvel Comics

Catastrophe Jen [Lesbian]

Rococo [Lesbian]

Bling – Jr. X-Man [Lesbian]

Kyle Jinadu– Northstarr’s husband [Gay]

David Alleyne [Bisexual]

 

 

DC Comics

Anissa Pierce/ Thunder [Lesbian]

Dale Gunn [Gay]

Big Thunder [Gay]

Josiah Power [Gay]

Hero Cruz (Gay]

Voodoo (Clone) [Bisexual]

 

 

Milestone Comics

Fade (Gay)

Masquerade (Transgendered)

Marcus Roberts

Marcus is a freelance writer and longtime comic book collector. He is a father of two. He is also a certified Life Skills Coach with a degree in psychology. Written credits include Jennifer Rash’s Dream Angel , and from ICC Publishing, IHERO 3 and Imperia: The Chaos of Calamity.

blackheromarcus has 89 posts and counting.See all posts by blackheromarcus

46 thoughts on “The Black Perspective: Black Heroes and the LGBT Community

  • September 10, 2013 at 2:35 am
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    It feels forced, just like Earth 2’s Alan Scott felt forced. If they are originally written that way then so be it, but don’t force the issue just because.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 2:50 am
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    I don’t like it!!! There is enough publicity on this issue and lifestyle! Homosexuality and other lifestyles are always assigned to heroes of color! The comic universe contains mostly if Caucasian characters, I don’t understand why majority of alternate sexualty is not caucasian!!! Just saying!!!

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  • September 10, 2013 at 4:01 am
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    “Black, smart, and bisexual? That’s, like, triple progressive points isn’t it?” – some white dude at Marvel.

    Lets get something straight- it ain’t the gay/bi that bothers me. It’s the reasons behind their decisions that rub me the wrong way.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 7:10 am
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    “…the first gay character appeared in 1941.”
    The article fails to state who this 1941 character is.
    If it is in reference to The “Golden Age” Green Lantern (created 1940), that character was only re-made as gay in 2012.
    Until that time, the character was depicted as a straight, married man and the father of twins.

    Any overt depiction of gay characters or homosexuality would have been banned by the Comics Code Authority up until the late-1980’s.

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    • September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm
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      The gay character from 1941 was named Firebrand. His sexuality was only hinted at then.

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      • September 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm
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        You mean the old Quality Comics character (now a property of DC and one-time member of ‘The Freedom Fighters)?
        I suspect that was another ret-con. Similar to what they did with the cowboy character Rawhide Kid.

        I seriously doubt that any character created in the Golden and Silver Age was created with the concept of being gay (implied or otherwise). Most heroes didn’t have a sex-life, and spent more time avoiding their love-interests (to protect their secret identity) as they did fighting crime. The first truly gay characters in comic books didn’t exist until the1980’s, when comics became “more realistic”. Anything prior to that is doubtful.

        I’d be interested in any links to Golden Age sources you may have confirming Firebrand’s orientation.

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    • September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm
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      I think the fact that the golden age of comics are so prim leaves much open to interpretation. It’s not that the characters were asexual, it’s that their presentation was two dimensional. When we peel back the veil we might see that some of the heroes that were avoiding their love-interest were doing so because the “love interest” was barking up the wrong tree.

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    • September 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm
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      The info came from the writings of Paul Schdont on radaronline.com, but the page is no longer there. The school of thought he is basing this on has to do with the choice of color for his uniform. This same thing is repeated again with the old artist conceptions of Elemental Lad for the early Legion of Superheroes. This plays on the stereotype of men wearing pink. Even with the character “Big Thunder” his emblem is blazing pink.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 7:56 am
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    Just to be clear, Fade from the Blood Syndicate is gay, not transgendered. In addition, it seems by the comments, homophobia is alive and well in the African American community.

    “Monitor the kids comics, too”? For real? As if because the character in comics is gay that all of a sudden your children will be as well? That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

    And besides, if your daughter or son happens to be gay that makes them less of a man or a woman? Methinks one needs to get over their hang-ups concerning sexuality before imposing their myopic view on others.

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    • September 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm
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      I agree with jazintelligent what kids are you monitoring and for what? Society needs to wrap their minds around the gay element in this country and honestly Marvel has been handling their gay characters with better ease than DC. Furthermore you dont have the problem following to discuss this matter, this should have been ghost written for another blogger because clearly these comments are ignorant and clearly uninformed. You havent taken a stance for gay equality in this post just exacerbated it. Ultimately if people do not see these gay characters thinking of gay people and especially gay black men will never change. I thank Marvel for giving me representation.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 10:37 am
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    How come most of them are Black? That’s the hard thing for me, plus comics are supposed to mainly for kids…why is there any mention of sexuality at all?

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    • September 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm
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      Most of the gay characters in comics aren’t Black.
      This website focuses on Black Heroes (in general).
      So they are only showcasing the Black characters.
      There are just as many (actually, more) non-black gay/lesian/bi characters in comics.

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      • September 13, 2013 at 3:26 pm
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        Exactly! Not to mention that comic’s aren’t “supposed to [be] mainly for kids.” In fact, “Young Avengers,” the book that Prodigy came out in, is rated Teen +.

        Even if it was a comic for children, I still wouldn’t have a problem with it. There’s nothing inherently more “adult” about a same-sex relationship than an opposite-sex relationship.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 11:07 am
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    LGBT story lines will always appear forced to people that don’t want to see them at all. I think it feels a bit forced that we haven’t seen more stories involving the LGBT community before now.

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    • September 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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      An excellent point. It should be understood that all forms of story telling require some determination. Everything’s “forced”- another good example is any book that doesn’t take it’s self too seriously these days. It’s all a matter of perspective.

      But as with everything, there are always lines. What if, for example, it were revealed that Batwoman was a post-op transsexual?

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      • September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm
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        Good question. I wouldn’t have a problem with any character being a post-op transsexual. I think the idea is if the conditions under which one becomes a superhero is fairly random… radioactive spider bite, the innate ability to overcome fear, evolution/mutation, etc… then super-heroism should be randomly distributed among a good number of sub groups, even groups that other groups may not want to see.

        The more sophisticated we become as writers and readers the easier it is to take a 2nd look at the characters and worlds with which we hold so dear. A few years back DC addressed the mustache twirling goofiness of the 50’s and 60’s by saying a few street level Justice League members were wiping the memories of villains, effectively lobotomizing them whenever they would discover a hero’s secret identity. A few years ago Marvel addressed the issue super-villains using millions or dollars of equipment to steal tens of thousands of dollars from a bank or a jewelry store by having those ventures subsidized by Dr Doom as a form of domestic terrorism. I believe taking these 2nd looks at existing characters and cannon only enriched the material.

        Growing up reading comics I always bristled at the fact that none of the X-men looked like me. Storm had blue eyes and both Storm and Bishop had silky hair that blew in the wind. I love the X-men but it bothered me that black mutants with kinky hair were pretty much the last mutants to get an invite to 1407 Graymalkin Lane. I think gay readers must feel the same way and I wouldn’t with that sense of exclusion on anyone. Besides, comic characters could not have been “out” in the 50’s and 60’s. Any of the characters we know as straight could have been affecting a straight lifestyle as as the LGBT community has been forced to do throughout history.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm
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    I only dislike Prodigy being gay b/c I’m still (and will always) root for him and Surge.

    I don’t like that people automatically compare being bi-sexual to being feminine. I imagine the very same people who aren’t ok with “forced” LGBT story lines will be the first to make this connection.

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    • September 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm
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      Prodigy’s bi so he could still get back together with Surge. 🙂

      It is disturbing that people associate being gay or bi to being feminine. I happen to be a heterosexual guy, but there are plenty of gay guys 100% more “manly” than me. Hell, just look at bear culture.

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  • September 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm
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    Frankly, a lot of the comments here are beginning to sound like the comments from CBR on the new Mighty Avengers. (If you don’t believe me, go take a look at some of the threads).

    This may come as a shock, but all diversity is forced. Anything that isn’t about a white, cis-gendered, straight dude is forced because it goes outside the norm. Black Panther wasn’t just accepted when he first appeared (hell, he’s still not really accepted now) neither was Falcon, or Luke Cage, or any character of color…they are here because someone, somewhere forced them to be here, and now the exact same thing is happening but with LGBT characters of color.

    And no, this isn’t only happening with black characters. In fact, from what I see Black LGBT characters are either hated on more (in the case of Prodigy) for “ruining” the “pretty white ships” or are just outright ignored (as shown by Northstar’s husband).

    Black gay people exist, just like black atheists, and black disabled people, and black homeless people. What Dwayne McDuffie did was revolutionary because he ignored what “black” was and focused on what being a “person” was.

    It’s too bad most people can’t do the same.
    P.S. I love SheZow!

    Reply
  • September 13, 2013 at 6:59 am
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    Wowwww, a LOT of ignorance in this comment section. If you are black and you’re homophobic, you should be ashamed of yourself. How are you going to discriminate against others when you’re discriminated against yourself, especially for something that you have no control over? Two wrongs make a right? You may not understand it and you may be afraid of it because of that but GET EDUCATED. The world will continue to change without you otherwise. We’re all human.

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  • September 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm
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    The negative comments here are reminiscent of what the white community spews out whenever it is revealed that a character will be black (Nick Fury, Ultimate Spiderman, etc.) Think about that for a minute. Is that how you envisage yourself? As a bigot? We can not with one breath condemn our marginalization and with the next marginalize someone else. Additionally, what about black LGBTs, perhaps there should be representations of them in comics as well, the black community is not monolithically straight.

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    • September 14, 2013 at 5:13 am
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      Hatred, sadly, is hatred. It is never the answer. Anger, certainly, but never hatred.

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  • September 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm
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    Look, right or wrong it’s un-natural and should not be promoted onto the youth or made to be cool nor should it be linked with the issues that’s plagued the black male long before these attempts to group civil rights with women’s rights with gay rights. The main goal of the establishment as far as black males in the first place is to keep them from ever being born.the genius of homosexuality which prior to 1973 the american psyciatric association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder is to prevent black conception for population control. All these grow out of the Global 2000 initiative,planned parenthood and the Rockafeller world population council and in 1974 Henry Kissinger published his national state security memorandum 200 which said that the expanding growth of black births was a national security issue…THAT MEANS ITS ALL PLANNED!

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    • September 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm
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      I’m not sure what you mean by “un-natural” but there’s absolutely NOTHING unnatural about being gay. Unnatural means “contrary to the laws or course of nature” but homosexual is actually very common in nature (i.e. it’s very much in line with the laws and course of nature). In Addition to us humans, homosexuality and homosexual relationships have been well documented across hundreds of different species including a plethora of mammals, birds, and even insects.

      Citing outdated American Psychiatric Association standards from over 40 years ago doesn’t change that. Homosexuality is 100% natural.

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    • September 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm
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      I’m sure if you picked through many medical and psychiatric journals before 1973 I’m sure there was a plethora of data supporting the idea that blacks were emotionally and intellectually inferior to their white brothers and sisters. Heck, the Tuskegee experiments only concluded in 1972. People that have a problem with the LGBT brothers and sisters need to realize the culture is moving in a different direction. It is too much effort to hold onto outdated prejudices and there is no benefit. You really risk becoming that old guy on the train that pouts anytime you see a young black man holding hands with a young white woman (or vice versa). No one looks at the old guy pouting as anything other than a relic from an age best forgotten.

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      • September 16, 2013 at 12:58 am
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        On the flip side, that means science is fallable and subject to biases. Hard to say one way or another. I mean, from a logical perspective homosexuality doesn’t make a lot of evolutionary sense- except perhaps as a way of culling those unfit to breed.

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        • September 16, 2013 at 2:04 am
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          It says scientists are fallible and subject to bias, not science. There is nothing scientific about breaking people into groups by skin color. You inherit over 20,000 genes from your parents less then 50 affect skin color.

          Just because your understanding of biology isn’t sophisticated enough to understand something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. We don’t need someone’s green eyes or albinism to make sense. We notice the color of someone’s eyes or that they’re an albino then move on regardless of whether or not we understand the underlying biological processes that made them the way they are.

          LGBT couples reproduce (or breed) all the time. They sometimes use surrogates, artificial insemination, or adopt but then again so do hetero couples.

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      • September 16, 2013 at 3:18 am
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        Thank you! I hate when people talk about “science” like it’s a monolith. Disproving a previous scientific theory doesn’t mean that “science” can’t be trusted; it means that our understanding of the topic is getting better. That means science is working.

        Just because a bunch of racist (or sexist, or homophobic, etc.) people passed off a bunch of hate as “research” 40 years ago doesn’t mean that we should dismiss all scientific research today.

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  • September 16, 2013 at 11:11 am
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    UN-NATURAL, And You show me the proof of all those gay animals you mentioned Daniel. By un-natural you all are well aware that the human body was not made to be soddomized. Male or female. Now you can get upset but those are common sense genetic facts. As far as the science and motivation behind it, if you check out Dr. Umar Johnson on the subject You will understand the role that society is playing in the constant projection of feminine black men onto our youth. Ask yourself, how many black male actors had to play a gay character or dress up like a female? Then go look for yourself. Overwhelmingly we get it the worst cause society does not fear an affeminate black male and wants to detach us from that spiritual union of black male and black female procreation cause if men are with men and women are with women who makin the black babies?!? Don’t take my word for it go see Kissingers memorandum 200 for yourself.

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    • September 16, 2013 at 6:47 pm
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      By sodomy I suspect you mean anal sex, in surveys up to 1/3 of straight couples engage in it as well. Regardless of the original design the people use their bodies to give themselves and others pleasure.

      There is nothing feminine about homosexuality. Our culture has historically been hostile to homosexuals and has tended to portray them as cartoonish and feminine. Just like our culture has historically been racist and has portrayed black males as violent, stupid, and hyper-sexualized. Eventually people start internalizing those stereotypes as they’re aren’t very many competing images. How many black males have internalized the stereotype of the smooth-talking, hyper-sexualized, pick up artist who beds scores or women. How many black males consider that being a real man. Where were the outraged posts when we found out Luke Cage is a “cape chaser” who has hooked up with She Hulk, Tigra, and half the female marvel universe?

      You mention that there is no mention of homosexuality before 3,000 years ago. There is little record of anything before 3,000 years ago. 3,000 years ago we were a handful of tribes whose very survival may depend on being larger in number than the next tribe. This is 2013, if anything this planet is overpopulated so I don’t believe we need every last couple to reproduce traditionally.

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    • September 17, 2013 at 1:12 am
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      You can write it in all caps with an unnecessary hyphen all you want but it doesn’t make it true. There are 1,500 animal species that are known to practice homosexuality. http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx That is a fact. Homosexuality is natural. Deal with it.

      There’s a ton of information about homosexuality among bonobo populations as well as many other apes. Penguins, ducks, geese and other birds have been known to form same-sex mating pairs and raise young together. Sheep, fruit bats, dolphins, orangutans, dogs, and literally hundreds of other species practice homosexuality.

      Not only is your research outdated, so is your terminology. Really? We all know that “sodomy” is unsafe? Just because you never bothered to question something doesn’t make it a fact that we “are well aware” of. Both oral and anal sex are perfectly safe when performed properly, just like vaginal intercourse. (Plus, as dredwisely points out, hetero couples engage in “sodomy” all the time.)

      Stop trying to pass off your ignorant hate as “science.”

      Educate yourself; I’m done.

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  • September 16, 2013 at 11:17 am
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    P.s. prior to white people coming into world history around 1000 b.c. There is no mention of homosexuality no where in Africa and that is the facts. Go look for yourself .

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  • September 17, 2013 at 1:45 am
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    I don’t care what you call it and if a man does it to a woman or another man .when you use an organ that’s intended for reproduction and you put it in an area intended for ejecting the bodies waste.IT IS UN-NATUAL. And that’s common sense.

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    • September 17, 2013 at 2:12 am
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      The mouth in an area that is designed for eating so should oral sex be considered unnatural?

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  • September 17, 2013 at 1:48 am
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    Do the research fellas, Dr. Umar Johnson/ homosexuality. Then get back at me.

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  • September 17, 2013 at 2:00 am
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    I don’t mind Homosexuallity at all I am not a gay basher but I will say when I found out David was bi I was NOT happy not at all and now you’re telling me Josh Powers is Gay? On man.. So like to be black unless you’re a king or something if you want to be last character you need to be.. Bi or something? It’s I’m not happy about David being bi. not to sound like a bad guy but they took everything from him.. (writers) And then Allow him to be Bi? Wow

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  • September 17, 2013 at 2:05 am
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    Let me toss this in to anyone who doesn’t see anything bad about these. Make Logan gay.. See how the marvel data banks crash with hate once they do.

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  • September 17, 2013 at 10:33 am
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    And yes, head is un- natural to but we still like it.

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  • September 18, 2013 at 12:09 am
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    WOW, you dredunwisely. There’s nothing feminine about homosexuality? One question, how do most people identify a male homosexual?…I’ll wait….cause he’s OVERacting like a female!

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    • September 18, 2013 at 1:04 am
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      @Erik If you identify male homosexuals because they “act feminine” then if a male homosexual isn’t “acting feminine” you just wouldn’t notice him. Question, when you read the X-men do you identify with the mutants or the crowds of bigots that hunt them?

      Reply
  • September 18, 2013 at 10:58 am
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    As I said “most” people. As for the X-men I just love the art work and a great story.

    Reply
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  • November 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm
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    As a “Black Bisexual Male” i don’t see the problem. Since his creation, Prodigy has been one of my favorite X-Men joining the ranks of Storm, Gambit, Bishop, Rogue and many other that i like. Also just because he now joins the ranks of LGBT characters DOES NOT mean he is going to be an effeminate black teen. Hell one of my oldest friends is a black gay male and we act completely different. The fact that Prodigy is revealed to be bi makes him even more relateable to me, so i really don’t see the need to complain about it

    Reply
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