Back in January, a petition was created on Change.org that called for DC to depict the comic book interpretation of the Joker as gay, due to a belief that he’s actually homosexual according to the traditional Bat-canon and his sexuality has been erased with the introduction of his girlfriend Harley Quinn in the 1990s. The petition had a goal of 1,500 signatures and now, seven months later, it’s just a few supporters away from reaching that figure.
The petition was launched by Elena Shestakova and is currently sitting at 1,467 at the time of writing. At this point, it’s sure to hit its goal and here’s the lengthy essay that accompanies it, explaining the fan’s viewpoint:
“The Joker is a comic book character with almost 80 years history, half of which he was portrayed as homosexual – for instance, in such significant graphic novels as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns or Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. Neal Adams claimed that The Joker was and always had been homosexual. This opinion was shared by other comic books authors and artists for decades. That is why it’s so important to me and other queer readers to return his homosexuality.
The Joker repeatedly confessed his feelings to Batman and showed an interest in other men. Also there was Joker’s unnamed boyfriend in the graphic novel Devil’s Advocate. The Joker has many feminine traits – he uses lipstick, paints his nails, wears high heels and sometimes does crossdressing. We realize that some of these things is stereotypical, but it gives a very clear picture. Over the years, there were plenty of other queer moments in comics, cartoons and video games (especially in Batman: Arkham series).”
Continuing on, it reads:
“However, in the late nineties someone decided to erase Joker’s homosexuality and introduced Harley Quinn as his girlfriend (by the way, Harley was made up for the Batman: The Animated Series to replace the Joker in one scene, in which he was supposed to jump from the cake in drag). In the mass consciousness Harley became his only love interest, although in canonical comics there is no evidence that there are romantic or sexual feelings from the Joker’s part. His enforced relationship with Harley Quinn looks like an attempt to retconned his homosexuality and turn him in acceptable straight man.
DC Comics already has a great cast of queer characters – heroes (Batwoman or Midnighter), as well as villains (Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy). Maybe some people don’t want to see the “terrible villain” as part of the LGBT community. But on the other hand, in Gotham series The Penguin became gay without any problem, and he is morally no better than the Joker. It’s not homophobic to have a queer villain. So why not let the Clown Prince of Crime “out of the closet”? DC Rebirth is an excellent reason to bring the Joker back to his roots.
We ask DC Comics to restore The Joker’s homosexuality in comics and other media. No one’s sexual identity should be changed, even it’s only a fictional character. Because sometimes fictional characters is something real people hold onto.”
The petition certainly raises some interesting points. It is, of course, true that the Joker was not particularly portrayed as straight for the majority of his history, though since Harley Quinn was introduced, that’s widely assumed to be his sexual orientation. However, as pointed out above, the Joker isn’t usually portrayed as being overtly romantically attracted to Harley, meaning that there’s perhaps a fault in the general view of the character rather than the way DC Comics are depicting him.
Unfortunately for supporters of this petition, the cinematic versions of the character seem keen on presenting him as heterosexual. Obviously, Jared Leto’s Clown Prince was madly in love with Harley in Suicide Squad and the upcoming origins film starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker is expected to feature Zazie Beetz as the love interest of the man who will become the Clown Prince of Crime.
Honestly, this is a topic that each and every Joker fan is likely to have a varying opinion on, but if you’d like to add your name to the list, feel free to follow the link below and help nudge the petition towards its goal. Not that it’ll change anything even if it does hit 1500 signatures, mind you.