Batwoman is a Lesbian: DC Comics’ Gay Superheroes Stepping Out of the Subtext and Into the Light

Last June, DC Comics announced that they were starting over. Starting over at number 1. 52 all-new #1 issues will be released in September, complete with updated characters, costumes, and origins. An entire new universe, with old icons and a new concept.

And the new DC Comics universe, they promised, would be hella gay.

The Advocate recently interviewed DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan Didio on some of the new queer things, even the lesbians and Didio dished new details on the characters. Honestly, the best thing about all these new and reinvented DC Comics gay characters isn’t just that they happened, but that they happened on purpose:

What we really wanted to do was show the diversity of our audience across the line of our books. Right now we have such a wide fan base and we wanted to create characters and stories that really reflected [that] fan base.

When the new #1’s come out in September, they will include several LGBT characters – including some with their own titles! The Question is a lesbian, and Batwoman is a lesbian, and she’s wearing the bat symbol to symbolize “a standard of diversity” for DC Comics. Voodoo, a new bisexual woman of color superhero, is also being introduced. And Apollo and Midnighter, two gay superheroes engaged in a relationship in DC’s alternate Wildstorm line, are coming to the forefront as mainstream DC Comics characters. And they have what looks like the most beautiful relationship in comics:

Because they had an established relationship in the stories that were being told within the Wildstorm universe—and this is the first time they’re being seen in the DC Universe—we wanted to build them from scratch and watch an emerging relationship between these two characters. So in this particular case, Apollo is much more out and much more comfortable with himself [while] Midnighter is naturally a little more repressed. You’re going to see the two characters working side by side and showing the difficulties of working together, learning and growing as a team and then ultimately as a couple.

There are lady-loving-ladies in the DC Comics universe, and they’re about to become even more fabulous in mere months. In fact, the DC focus on diversity may even extend to a gay teen superhero soon – as if Robin wasn’t enough.

In the end, though, it’s nice to have someone besides the Ambiguously Gay Duo:

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. > Voodoo, a new bisexual woman of color superhero, is there so that nobody feels left out.


  2. Are there any trans characters? *sigh* I suppose LGBT doesn’t have to include any T, AGAIN.

    • Ugh. Same thoughts. Maybe an androgynous character with gender neutral pronouns to break the ice?

      • So predictable. (The lack of trans characters, not your androgynous suggestion).

        Or a trans super hero who gained their super powers when they transitioned? Or one of the current characters who are known and loved, who in this brave new universe has just come out and started transitioning? And is becoming even more awesome?

        • “Or a trans super hero who gained their super powers when they transitioned?”
          that would be so cool!!

          • Transitioning powers would be great. I’d even be down for an established character to discuss their transition, so there is less of the “transitioning trans*” stereotype that you see so often in pop culture, and more of the “yeah, ok, she’s trans*, quick, catch the bad guy!”

            But, if they create a trans* super villain before hero, I’m down for revolution. We don’t need any more othering.

    • this also came to mind when i was researching. but they say they have more in the works, so! fingers crossed?

    • Does Xavin count? I mean I know Runaways is Marvel, and not part of DC’s queerification party, but ze is def a trans* superhero.

      The description is a little spoilery, BTW, and the body of the article is way spoilery.

      • I dunno, when I was reading Runaways I got the sense that, as shape shifters, Skrulls don’t experience gender/gender assignment in the same way humans do.

  3. This news would be a lot more impactful if I cared about comicbooks, but still, this earns a: “Fuck yeah, the universe is gay-gay-gay!”

  4. I guess I’m a little confused. Wasn’t this clear when they relaunched the comic back in 2009?

    Afterellen did a piece on her status as a lesbian comic book hero in 2009, and during a cursory search, another one back in 2006.

  5. Whenever I watched cartoons, I would always think, “If Batwoman was real, she’d totally be a lesbian.”

    • Just to point out, Batwoman and Batgirl are not the same character. Just throwin’ that out there.

      But as far as gay teen superheroes go, the only one that comes to mind is Marvel’s Anole from the X-Men.

  6. BATWOMAN. \o/ I bought Batwoman: Elegy when it came out in 2010, and it was awesome in so many ways. I highly recommend it; we get to see her past relationship (with a girl, of course) and there is kissing and we obviously get to see her kick ass, which is hot. It was also respectfully done, I didn’t feel any creepy ‘for-the-men’ vibes.

    Aaaand now I’m going to go re-read it instead of working.

    • I second the recommendation for Batwoman: Elegy. It’s an excellent starting point for peeps who are new to the character and superhero comics in general. Rachel Maddow wrote the introduction for the hardcover and Kate Kane/Batwoman is awesome and hot and supergay. Fun fact: For Batwoman’s origin story, writer Greg Rucka talked to Dan Choi about DADT and being gay in the military. And Dan makes a cameo in the issue where Kate gets discharged under DADT – you can see him talking to Kate just before she faces her supervisor. See here:

  7. Live this. Did anyone here read Perry Moore’s book Hero?

    Great book about a gay teen superhero coming out of the herocloset.

  8. Autostraddle actually using the word “lesbian” in a headline? I’m shocked. Looking at the homepage leaves the impression that we’re all queer now.

        • Okay, but not all girl-loving ladies identify as lesbians. They used lesbian in this case because it was obviously appropriate, but imo ‘queer’ is more inclusive than ‘lesbian’, so I don’t see the point in getting nitpicky over that usage.

          • I don’t think it’s any more nitpicky than a person who identifies as being queer wanting to be called queer rather than a lesbian. Frankly, the inclusiveness of queer is vastly overstated; were the term that much of a catch all, the “lgbt” label would be obsolete. Queer has a TON more baggage associated with it than lesbian, imo. And it certainly doesn’t describe me, or any other suburban, milquetoast conformist who happen to be attracted exclusively to women (yes, we do exist!).

            There *are* lesbians out there who consider it an affront to be called queer. I just wish Autostraddle folks would account for them a little more.

          • “I don’t think it’s any more nitpicky than a person who identifies as being queer wanting to be called queer rather than a lesbian. ”

            Fair enough. There actually isn’t anything nitpicky about preferring one label over another, I’m sorry for implying that.

            idk, I’ve always felt that Autostraddle tries really hard to listen to everyone. Whenever they use a label that doesn’t apply to me I kind of shrug and move on; hell, it’ll apply to someone, and there’s really no way to make everyone happy unless you include ALL THE WORDS, and that’s rather unwieldy.

            tl;dr I understand your frustration but am unsure of what the best ~solution would be. Aaaand now I’m going to bed because I’m not really sure if I’m actually making any sort of sense, cheers.

        • Can we all take a moment to acknowledge how amazing those numbers are regardless of the terminology used?

          Also, google greys out the instant search at “lizz’s la” when you search for “lizz’s latest thing” so I wouldn’t take them too seriously.

        • My point was that using “lesbian” in a headline(or anywhere else on the site) isn’t that uncommon. If we’re counting, I should tell you that when I search for “lesbian” and “queer” in individual posts in WordPress, “lesbian” brings up about 700 more items than “queer.” So there’s that.

          • yeah the amount of results google comes up with is completely irrelevant, actually, for real — it’s not counting mentions on our site, it’s counting everywhere we’ve been mentioned and 5,000 other google algorithm secret things as well as taking into account how many other sites use those words as well and etc etc. that being used as a measuring stick is preposterous for real!

            I’m not gonna lie, I personally try to avoid using “queer” in headlines ever because it’s not good for SEO. People rarely google LGBT so I almost never use that. But you make a good point that “queer” isn’t as inclusive as we maybe think it is, so I should rethink that and try to use LGBT more often.

            anyhoo! at the end of 2010 we did an “Autostraddle Title Index”:
            Number of post titles containing the word Gay: 210
            Lesbian: 205
            Queer: 53
            Lesbosexy: 21
            Homo/Homosexual: 17
            Bisexual: 17
            Trans: 15
            Homogay: 7
            Gaymo: 1
            Homostars: 1
            Homosexy: 1

            i kinda have a feeling that evidence isn’t really relevant here, but it’s just really honestly technically so incorrect that i had to say something. the only agenda our titles have is SEO and attracting readers, there’s very little else they mean, unfortunately, i’m sure this probs will also piss everyone off but alas.

          • Yeah, I wasn’t pointing to Google to show how many results the phrase got. I did it because um, it’s the quickest way to show a bunch of titles with “lesbian” in it if someone doesn’t want to go through the site and… see all the titles with “lesbian” it.

            Rejection 101: A Lesbian’s Guide To Getting Turned Down, Keeping Your Head Up
            21 Music Videos Featuring Lesbian-Style Action
            Lesbian Basketball Documentary “No Look Pass” at Outfest
            Lesbian WNBA Player Sheryl Swoopes Is Now Engaged To A Man
            The Sordid Lives of Lesbian Twins

            + there were two articles w/ “lesbian” in the headline that were published today.

          • Ah, I assumed that you just did it to show the number of results. My mistake. And I admittedly know nothing about how Google does the whole searchy-ranking thing. ALAS, I have one more point: scroll through the archives–there’s a marked decrease of the word lesbian in the headlines since last year. Anywho…

            My goodness, my post actually got Riese’s attention *I feel so validated, yay*. That’s good enough for me. Back to growing out my alternative lifestyle haircut and telling the kids to get off my lawn ;)

  9. I feel like I’m late to the party which is a TERRIBLE thing for me to be in a comics post on Autostraddle. But anyway, yeah, Kate Kane (Batwoman) and Renee Montoya (the new Question) were already around – Kate Kane has been around in one guise or another for years and years but this version of her headlined Detective Comics in 2009, which was kind of amazing. (Detective Comics is one of DC’s flagship books – it’s actually what DC stands for – and for like a year the Detective, the Bat in the title, was Batwoman, Kate Kane, a lesbian who got kicked out of the Marines for being gay. she’s kind of amazing. although still with the Bat-tradition of being horrendously wealthy.) Batwoman: Elegy got mentioned as a good place to start, do it!

    But Renee Montoya is really really cool as well. She is the Question at the moment, but I’m not sure if she’s actually on a book atm – she was doing a backup in ‘Tec when Kate was headlining it, but not for about a year. She’s an incredible character, I really can’t sell her enough. And the book that she started out in, Gotham Central, was a fantastic comic. It was about Gotham police forces, corruption, etc. Renee was a Gotham cop for a really long time. She features in the whole run but the Half-Life TPB is where she starts to come out.

    I would always be suspicious of DC claiming to be more diverse, though. The latest bullshit: “We want to create more characters who are gay from the ground up, instead of turning existing characters gay, because obviously being gay must be a MASSIVE PART OF SOMEONE’S IDENTITY.” Classy. (~FEELINGS ABOUT DCnU.)

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