The Daily Gamecock

Column: Nazis and queerness in modern America


The year 2016 brought us a lot of pain, a lot of good memes and a few Nazis. In the first "Captain America" movie, Steve Rogers rises to fame by punching Hitler in the face. And while some brave souls are still happily punching out Nazis, last year Marvel revealed that Captain America himself is a Hydra agent. What’s amazing about this is not the political hoopla of making an American hero a fascist enemy of the state; no, what’s amazing about this is that it is somehow easier for the American public to stomach a Nazi Captain America than a gay Captain America.

Anyone who has watched the first Captain America movie knows the story of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes: two kids who grew up together, living the hard-knock life in Brooklyn. They fought together, they fought for each other and, in the end, they died for each other. However, in true Marvel fashion, dead never actually means dead and in the next few Marvel movies these young men come back to each other after decades apart. Now, the general public reads this story as one of brotherhood and platonic devotion. But some people read a little more into that relationship. When asked about the possibility of a romantic pairing between Steve and Bucky, actor Chris Evans said “That wouldn’t be so bad,” though it hadn’t been his intention while acting. Many fans think that it wouldn’t be bad at all, but would in fact be amazing.

There is a precedent set for queerness in comics. There are so many canonically queer superheroes (meaning true in the original comic lore), that a few of them even have their own movies. Deadpool is openly pansexual, Wolverine is bisexual (and shared a super sweaty kiss with Hercules in the comic) and when DC was asked if Wonder Woman was bi, they said “obviously.” I can list literally dozens of superheroes who are LGBTQ. Many of them are lesser known characters, yes, but Wolverine has three movies entirely dedicated to him, Deadpool is getting a sequel (in which Reynolds wants a boyfriend), Batwoman is kissing girls all over the place and X-Men movies have queer people running all over the screen, even if they’re not doing gay stuff on camera (remember sweet, little Rictor from the end of "Logan?" So gay). So, if all these characters are queer and have been queer for decades in the comics, why is it that they're not represented as queer in the movies?

Even Disney is getting on board the Gay Train. Look up “'Beauty and the Beast' gay moment” and the results are stunning. The new production of "Beauty and the Beast" will finally play out the obvious and blatant gay subtext between LeFou and Gaston in the first “exclusively gay moment” on screen. An Alabama theater won’t screen it, but it turns out gay people like seeing movies with gay people in them even more than stuffy conservatives like boycotting them. "Beauty and the Beast" made $174 million on its opening weekend, making it the most successful March opener ever. Even China kept the gay scene, and the movie brought in $45 million there alone. There was a gay man in a major Disney production and the world didn’t explode. So why not Captain America?

The hashtags #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend and #GiveElsaAGirlfriend were created to bring some LGBTQ representation to the big screen, especially in Disney movies like those in the Marvel cinematic universe, princess movies and the "Star Wars" franchise. However, it also created a lot of backlash. In fact, the whole push for more queerness in movies has caused quite the stir in conservative media. Articles like “First Beauty and the Beast, now Power Rangers. Why all the gay movie characters?” and “Keep Your Identity Politics Away From Captain America” are why queer people in America are afraid. The idea that liberals are trying "to make Captain America gay” and that this is an inherently bad thing is why this needs to happen. The fact that a Disney movie with a couple minutes of shameless queerness is being banned by theaters is why kids need to see that it’s OK.

It’s OK to be queer. It’s natural. But based on what you’d see in major motion pictures, queer people barely exist. Comic book heroes that queer kids grow up reading are straight-washed on screen. It’s like "Doctor Strange" and "Ghost in the Shell," but instead of Asian people being slapped in the face, it’s queer people, and by an entire franchise. This is why queer couples are still afraid to hold hands in public in 2017. This is why little kids of all genders are afraid to come out to their parents. This is why “gay” is still an insult and lesbian couples are still called “gal pals.” This is why the LGBT section on Netflix is filled with obscure two-star films because there aren’t queer people in popular movies. Because in Trump’s America, it is literally better to be a Nazi than to be gay.


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