“You are an exquisite creature, Raven. All your life the world has tried to tame you. It’s time for you to be free.”- X-Men: First Class
Last weekend, my non-geek girlfriend asked who the prominent lesbian characters in comics are. I immediately pulled out my Batwoman graphic novels. I proudly boasted that Batwoman was not only an incredibly bad@$$ lesbian character- she was also Jewish! I then listed the few others I could come up with, and stalled when I ended up at Mystique, AKA Raven Darkholme. Is Mystique homosexual, bisexual, or transgender? Do I even have the right to define an awesome character like Mystique? Is there a box Mystique can or should fit in? No matter the answers to these questions, Mystique is one of the most intriguing and bravest characters in comics because, like many in our society, she does not allow herself to be policed by the roles of masculinity or femininity.
Mystique is one of the coolest mutants in Fox’s X-Men universe. You cannot help but respect her dedication to mutant rights, until the movement turns on her. She is a troubled soul who can make herself fit society’s warped standards of beauty, but only if she changes everything about herself. But in the movies, she is portrayed as a heterosexual character who shows sexual attraction to Beast, Magneto and Wolverine.
In the comics, Mystique’s closest relationship is with the blind precognitive Irene Adler, AKA Destiny. Mystique and Destiny team together as members of Freedom Force and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Chris Claremont, the longest running X-Men writer, originally intended Mystique and Destiny to be Nightcrawler’s biological parents. Of course, this means Mystique would have had male reproductive organs. Damn, that would have been a groundbreaking story for the time. Upsettingly, the Comics Code Authority had a “no gay or bi-sexual characters allowed” rule in effect until 1989, and Claremont scrapped his plans for the lovers.
Years later, Marvel finally established that Mystique did have a sexual relationship with Destiny. In flashbacks, just like Claremont originally intended, Mystique takes the form of a man during her courtship of Destiny. Mystique’s relationship with Destiny dates from the 1930’s, when they first met, until 1989 when Destiny dies at the hands of Legion in Uncanny X-Men #255. After Destiny’s death, Mystique mourns for her former partner in a way only someone truly in love would. Even though, Mystique has had many associations, her true love has always been Destiny. While Mystique has had many relationships with men in comics, none carry the emotional depth of her relationship with Destiny. All of her relationships with male characters are because she is using them to get something. Mystique is the biological mother of both Nightcrawler and Rogue. She may have used both her male and female sexual organs depending on how she identified at the time. It should also be noted that Rogue is adopted (at the age of 4) by Mystique and is brought up by the shape-shifter and Destiny. So why is she portrayed as heterosexual in the movies? Andrew Garfield recently stated he would like to see Mary Jane as a male character and have Peter Parker explore his sexuality. Fans nearly rioted. Aside from the more hate filled debates, one of the main debates many fans made was that an established character should not have his or her sexuality changed. These fans claimed that all their great hetero-heroes were being threatened to appease some imaginary liberal monster. In most cases, to make sure no one felt they were being homophobic, these fans stated they would enjoy more LGBT characters as long as they were new characters and not classic characters exploring his or her sexuality.
Hmmmm, if characters cannot have alternate reality forms where they explore a different sexuality, why is it OK that Mystique is portrayed as hetero in the X-flicks? She is one of the only mainstream characters to truly step outside the boxes of sexuality. Where is our outrage? And why did so many of you get uncomfortable reading this article when you realized Rebecca Romijn may have had a penis? C’mon y’all, if you truly are not biased, let’s start the riots!
Source of Marriage Equality Meme: Journey Into Awesome ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jay Deitcher, LMSW(
@mrdeitcher) is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly. You can see a listing of his incredible articles at JayDeitcher.com.