Truth, Justice, and the American Gay: Representation of Gender and Sexuality in Mainstream Comics


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This project explores the representation of LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream comics over time through the lens of queer theory. Queer theory challenges heteronormativity, or the idea that heterosexuality is the societal default and the only lens through which to interpret sexuality in media. To this end, the thesis investigates the research question “To what extent has LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream comics changed as it has moved from subtext to canon?” Canon representation involves a character being expressly identified as LGBTQ+. The thesis offers an examination of several texts ranging from the 1980s to the 2020s and a comparison between their handling of queer representation. Through this investigation, new light can be shed on representation in a facet of popular culture not discussed as frequently as other media, but still incredibly important in cultural discourse. This expanded knowledge is beneficial to multiple disciplines, including comics studies and queer studies.



Comic books, Queer theory, LGBTQ representation, Gender, Sexuality, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Media studies