The homoerotic subtext of comic book superheroes has been a hot topic in the gay community for some time. Now comics fans and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) blogosphere is abuzz with news that a major DC Comics character will "come out" in a future issue.
Details of the character and his specific story arc are relatively scarce thus far, but as Bleeding Cool is reporting, DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio told attendees at the Kapow Comic Convention in London that the superhero -- an established player in one of the series, and was originally introduced as straight -- will become "one of our most prominent gay characters."
DC Comics has produced some of the comic book world's most iconic superheroes, including Superman, Wonder Woman and others. Senior Vice President Bob Wayne compared his company's policy on gay characters to that of President Obama in that it "has evolved."
DiDio previously hinted at the introduction of a gay character last year in an interview with The Advocate. "What we really wanted to do was show the diversity of our audience across the line of our books," he said at the time. "Right now we have such a wide fan base and we wanted to create characters and stories that really reflected [that] fan base."
Gay storylines have been infiltrating the comic world at large for some time. Earlier this year, Archie Comics featured Kevin Keller -- the fictional Riverdale's first openly gay character who is also an active U.S. military officer -- tying the knot with his African-American boyfriend Clay Walker.
In 1993, cartoonist Lynn Johnston sparked controversy when she depicting Lawrence, a long-standing character in her "For Better or For Worse" strip, coming out of the closet. "It felt right for Lawrence to be gay," Johnston, whose strip ran for 30 years until 2008, wrote at the time. "He was like so many people I know who have had to deal with this traumatic realization and who have done so with courage and honesty."
And while "Batman" has never featured a gay-specific storyline per se, Action Comics writer Grant Morrison referred to the titular character as "very, very gay" in an interview with Playboy magazine.
Check out celebrities who've faced speculation about their sexuality below:
In 2009, gossip sites went wild with headlines that suggested the "Twilight" star was a lesbian. However, a closer look at Stewart's quotes <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/6508461/Twilight-star-Kristen-Stewart-on-dating-Robert-Pattinson-We-are.-We-arent.-Im-a-lesbian.html" target="_hplink">reveals how she was actually responding to a question </a>over the nature of her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson: <blockquote>"I've thought about this a lot. There's no answer that's not going to tip you one way or the other. Think about every hypothetical situation. 'OK, we are. We aren't. I'm a lesbian.' I probably would've answered if people hadn't made such a big deal about it. But I'm not going to give the finding an answer."</blockquote>
Despite three high-profile marriages, the "Top Gun" star has been the subject of gay speculation for years. In 2003, he won a $10 million default judgment in a case against a gay porn actor who claimed the two had an affair, and two years earlier, he sued Los Angeles-based publisher Michael Davis for $100 million after Davis claimed to have a videotape of Cruise engaged in homosexual acts. As <em>People</em> <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,625389,00.html" target="_hplink">reported</a>, the suit was eventually dropped, and Davis eventually stated that Cruise "is not, and never has been, homosexual and has never had a homosexual affair."
Speculation has swirled over the talk show queen's long-standing kinship with TV anchor friend Gayle King for years. But as Winfrey <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-12-08/gossip/27083713_1_oprah-winfrey-network-gayle-king-stedman-graham" target="_hplink">told Barbara Walters last year</a>, "I'm not even kind of a lesbian. And the reason why [the rumor] irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I'm lying. That's No. 1. No. 2 ... why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life."
When <a href="http://www.hollywood.com/news/Diesel_Slams_Gay_Rumors/3487636" target="_hplink">asked about the long-standing rumors</a> on his sexuality, the "Fast And The Furious" star proclaimed, "I was like, 'How could you say that? Why would you say that?'" He went on to note, "I'm not gonna put it out there on a magazine cover like some other actors. I come from the Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino code of silence. I'm not gonna do that."
Appearing on "The View," the pop star lamented the fact that she's never been in love and has difficulty dating, which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/kelly-clarkson-denies-lesbian-rumors-on-the-view_n_1034814.html" target="_hplink">prompt many people to speculate that she's a lesbian</a>. "I'm from a small town so, like, everyone's married with children or about to have children," she said. "So it's a little hard when you go home and people are like -- and that's why people think I'm gay -- because they're like 'Why aren't you married?' And I'm like, 'it doesn't happen for everyone right off the bat.'"
The "Inception" hunk <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/28/inception-star-tom-hardy_n_662907.html" target="_hplink">sent the blogosphere into overdrive</a> after he was quoted as saying, "I'm an actor for f**k's sake. I've played with everything and everyone." Still, a source now claims Hardy, who is engaged to British actress Charlotte Riley, <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/the_awful_truth/tom_hardy_source_sex_quotes_taken_out/192935" target="_hplink">had been taken out of context</a>: "He was discussing a gay role and quotes coming from the character."
After <em>Esquire</em> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/08/george-clooney-responds-t_n_90530.html" target="_hplink">uncovered a website</a> that referred to the Oscar-winning hunk as "gay, gay, gay," the good-natured actor quipped, "No, I'm gay, gay. The third gay -- that was pushing it." Friend Manuele Malenotti <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/8622173/George-Clooney-gay-rumours-are-untrue-claims-friend.html" target="_hplink">has also defended Clooney</a>, noting, "You never know in life, and men are having an identity crisis but I can tell you George is not gay. All I can say is that George, when it comes to love, has decided that he is not going to get married again and he is not going to have any children and he won't change his mind."
Tabloid speculation over the button-handsome young stars of "Gossip Girl" has been rampant, <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/06/chace_crawford_and_ed_westwick.html" target="_hplink">particularly given the fact </a>that Chace Crawford (right) and Ed Westwick (middle) were roommates for some time, according to <em>New York Magazine</em>. Westwick <a href="It's funny because I love this f**king dude dearly. I would die for this f**king dude. He's my brother. But, by God, we are so into our f**king women it's ridiculou" target="_hplink">later blasted the rumors</a>, saying, "It's funny because I love this f**king dude dearly. I would die for this f**king dude. He's my brother. But, by God, we are so into our f**king women it's ridiculous."
When asked earlier this year if there <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/people/2011/03/michelle-rodriguez-wants-you-to-know-shes-not-a-lesbian" target="_hplink">were any rumors she wanted to clear up</a>, Rodriguez quipped, "I'm not a lesbian. Yeah! Mitchie likes sausage."
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton has <a href="http://perezhilton.com/2011-11-29-zac-efron-aiport-lax-sexy-blue-outfit-sunglasses?relate=#.TtkXgHNPkqU" target="_hplink">made no secret of his admiration</a> for the "High School Musical" star, while other gossip sites have openly speculated about Efron's sexuality. Still, Efron <a href="http://www.ivillage.com/zac-efron-addresses-gay-rumors-0/1-a-26706" target="_hplink">has laughed it off</a>: "I know it's very addictive to read that kind of stuff. It's entertainment. Honestly, if the worst [Perez Hilton] can say about me is that I'm gay, then I think I'll be fine. I can handle it."
The singer-songwriter acknowledges <a href="http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/38024/alicia-keys-i-can-understand-lesbian-rumours" target="_hplink">why many thought she was a lesbian</a> shortly after her Grammy Award-winning debut: "I was definitely rough around the edges. I look back at certain interviews and I'm like, 'Damn! Did I have to look that hard? Did I have to do my hair that way?' More recently, <a href="http://www.theimproper.com/4623/alicia-keys-wants-lesbian-rumors-put-to-rest" target="_hplink">she said</a>, "I'm comfortable in my own skin - comfortable enough to know when something is right for me and when things need to change. All that comes in time, because when I first started out, I hadn't a clue."
Maybe it's the "Saturday Night Fever" syndrome, but Travolta, who has been married to Kelly Preston since 1991, has been<a href="http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2010/12/everyone-knows-john-travolta-gay-says-carrie-fisher" target="_hplink"> dogged by gay rumors and reports</a> since the late 1980s. Last year, his attorney Marty Singer sent to a five-page letter to Gawker threatening to sue over posting "false and outrageous" claims in a story <a href="http://gawker.com/5685811/the-secret-sex-life-of-john-travolta" target="_hplink">the site ran in a post called</a> "The Secret Sex Life of John Travolta." In recent months several men have come forward alleging that Travolta sexually assaulted and harassed them. While Travolta denies the claims, lawsuits against the star are currently pending.
The "Almost Famous" star, who is currently dating Muse singer Matthew Bellamy and was previously married to Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, said she was baffled by <a href="http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2009/01/09/kate_hudson_baffled_by_lesbian_rumors_" target="_hplink">rumors she'd embarked on a steamy lesbian affair</a>. "No, no, no," she was quoted as saying. "Strictly boys for me!"
The 21st century actor, artist, intellectual and overall "renaissance man" has believably played gay characters onscreen numerous times (most memorably as Harvey Milk's lover in the Oscar-winning "Milk"), but Franco <a href="http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/01/05/james-franco-gay-roles/" target="_hplink">has downplayed the rumors</a> about his real-life sexuality. "There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys," he is quoted by <em>Entertainment Weekly</em> as saying.
Speculation about the well-groomed TV's host sexuality has been so rampant, even his girlfriend Julianne Hough <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2010/07/21/julianne-hough-ryan-seacrest-gay-dinner-dating-north-carolina-mortons/" target="_hplink">thought he was gay</a>: "He totally wasn't my type," she said, according to TMZ.com. "I thought he was gay." Several years earlier, Seacrest himself had addressed the rumors, noting, "I know a lot of gay males who I work with that are fantastic people and I love hanging out with them. But because I hang out and bring gay men into my life, does that mean that I'm gay? I promise you that I very much love women."
Addressing speculation she might be a lesbian, the self-professed tomboy said she <a href="http://www.shewired.com/g-spot/avatars-zoe-saldana-opens-about-her-lesbianism" target="_hplink">wasn't bothered by the reports</a>, adding, "People have sometimes told my grandmother, 'Your granddaughter has a bit of lesbianism in her,'" Saldana said. "It's that my sisters and I spent all our time among men. We were very popular with them. Our way of thinking is very masculine."