DC Comics has an ever-growing list of characters in the LGBTQ community who add to its representation and reflect the world as it is. The comic book publisher hasn’t always been known as the forerunner when it comes to social causes, however. Marvel Comics was credited for its social justice narratives with stories tackling civil rights in the work of X-men in the 1960s, whereas DC was beginning to seem like a relic of a bygone era.
Its first attempts at gay representation, as addressed in an essay from The Mary Sue, were marred by outdated stereotypes prevalent in the era. It wasn’t until the openly gay Flash villain Pied Piper appeared in 1991 that things started to turn around. In 1998, Mikaal Thomas/Starman had DC’s first same-sex kiss which pushed things forward since he was a bonafide hero without negative connotations surrounding him. As DC continued into the 2000s, more LGBTQ characters began appearing and have become favorites among many fans. The DC Pride 2022 comic spotlights these characters and shows a growing interest in advocating for more representation.
Here’s the list of the top 10 LGBTQ characters in DC Comics.
10. Connor Hawke/Green Arrow II
Oliver Queen/Green Arrow has a son named Connor Hawke, and not only is he a talented archer and martial artist, but he’s also confirmed as asexual in DC Pride 2022 by ace creators Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and letterer Frank Cvetkovic. It has long been theorized that the character was asexual given his lack of interest in sexual contact, and this is a step in the right direction for illuminating aspects of asexuality. Created by Kelley Pucket and Jim Aparo in 1994, Connor was raised for many years as a monk in the Ashram and practiced Zen Buddhist philosophy while training to become a formidable hero. After years of determining who he is, Connor writes a heartfelt coming-out letter to his mother and subsequently comes out to the world.
9. Alan Scott/Green Lantern
The Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott was first confirmed gay in the comic book series Earth-2, which takes place on an alternate Earth and features the hero in his younger years. Then, in the comic book event Infinite Frontier, Alan comes out as gay in the main continuity in a touching family moment. The scene involves the elder Green Lantern having a conversation with his two children, superheroes Jade and Obsidian, and admitting that he’s held onto this secret for a long time. He’s greeted with understanding and love, and there’s something especially meaningful about seeing such a historic character created in a repressive time embrace who he is.
8. John Constantine
Everyone’s favorite occult detective John Constantine is also a bisexual character. Back in 1992, he confirmed that he had girlfriends and boyfriends in the past, though none of them were long-lasting. In Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin’s Hellblazer comic, Ashes and Dust in the City of Angels, he’s seen officially kissing a man. Constantine’s a complicated man which makes for a great character, and though he’s usually struggling with serious problems, he is a very capable necromancer and a necessary character in dealing with all the magical chaos in the DC Universe.
7. Tim Drake/ Robin III
Tim Drake/Robin III sparked passionate conversations when he came out as bisexual. The ultimate teen detective had girlfriends in the past including fellow vigilante Stephanie Brown/Spoiler, but he discovered that he was also interested in boys in the pages of Batman: Urban Legends by Meghan Fitzmartin and Belén Ortega. Tim goes on a date with his old friend and former classmate Bernard Dowd that gets cut short. Bernard gets kidnapped along with other kids of Gotham by the Chaos Monster and Robin has to save them while figuring out what it is he wants. Robin and Bernard fight off the Children of Dyonisus Cult, and after they make it out alive, Robin realizes just how much he cares for him.
Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, Midnighter and Apollo hold the title of the first same-sex married couple in comics. They were part of the Wildstorm Universe before being integrated into the mainstream DC Universe and they remain as one of comics’ most important same-sex partners. Midnighter underwent involuntary experimentation that gave him superhuman abilities and has a rougher personality because of the wounds from his past, and Apollo was bio-engineered to have solar-based powers and has shown great strength and aspirational qualities. The two worked together in the black ops team StormWatch led by Apollo and balanced each other out. One more light, the other darker. Their relationship helped them heal and become better versions of themselves.
5. Alysia Yeoh
Created by Gail Simone and Adrian Syaf, Alysia Yeoh is a close friend of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and she’s a transgender woman of Singaporian descent with a passion for political activism. She has a loving story with her girlfriend Jo Muñoz and in time she becomes her wife. She’s helped Barbara out on multiple occasions and in DC Pride Special 2022, she rescues Batgirl, dons her own costume, and fights Killer Moth (using a bat with the trans flag on it) while questioning how hard this fight of hers is in all areas of her life. Her struggle feels real and her concerns are legitimate in a battle that feels endlessly unforgiving, but she’s reminded that heroes don’t quit. They just keep fighting.
4. Sojourner “Jo” Mullein/Green Lantern
Sojourner “Jo” Mullein has the distinct responsibility of being the Green Lantern who operates in the Far Sector of the galaxy, and she’s the first queer woman of color to ever hold the mantel created by N.K. Jemison and Jamal Campbell. She has a tough job stabilizing the strange City Enduring from political upheaval. She not only has to keep the peace in a foreign place that grows more precarious by the day, but she also has to deal with her own painful trauma in a world that’s not so dissimilar from ours. Jo makes history in many ways and in a short time has become one of DC’s most important characters.
3. Jackson Hyde/Aqualad
Aqualad Jackson Hyde is the son of Black Manta and a Xebelian woman named Lucia, and he’s had a hard time coming to terms with who he is. He’s Aquaman’s sidekick with the power to command water, and although he’s a true superhero, it’s been hard to escape the shadow of his villainous father. One area of his life seems to be going well, and that’s with his boyfriend Ha’Wea. Jackson has been able to connect to his Xebellian heritage, unpack his past, and find love with someone who understands and supports him. He’s still young, but he’s doing the work to become the best version of himself that he can.
2. Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy
Both Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy’s pasts have been riddled with men who’ve done them wrong. Harley was manipulated by the abusive Joker, and Poison Ivy has had to fight a patriarchal society bent on harming the environment. They’ve both been mistreated and objectified in different ways, which is why their friendship feels so freeing. The two come together and realize how effective they are (with crime and their personal relationships) and this affection grows into a relationship. These two women might be bad sometimes, but together they’re very good.
In 2006, a new Batwoman was introduced to the world and because of that iconic symbol on her chest, she opened the door for others to follow. Kate Kane is Bruce Wayne’s cousin, a trained military soldier, and a lesbian woman who’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She was featured in the weekly comic 52 and then given her own comic book by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams, which still stands out as a masterpiece. Kate’s life is explored in a deeply personal way. She’s kicked out of the military because of their prejudiced policy and finds a new path as a costumed vigilante who protects Gotham. She finds strength in helping others and her relationship with Renee Montoya is as beautiful as it is tragic. Kate grapples with being honorable in a world that doesn’t uphold the same values, and the realism and heart that’s in the story set the bar for other stories.