10 Important LGBTQIA+ Superheroes, 45 Years After the First Appearance of Northstar

Posted on January 16, 2024

by Eric S

Superhero comics are not likely the first place one’s mind goes to when thinking of LGBTQIA+ representation in popular culture…with good reason. Although characters like Batwoman and America Chavez have emerged in recent years (and old characters have been reframed as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as Loki and Iceman), the superhero genre, with its plethora of ultra-masculine hero types, has in large part reaffirmed traditional views on sexual orientation—not to mention gender, race, and social class, among other things. However, it’s impossible to even have this discussion without bringing up the character of Jean-Paul Beaubier, also known as Northstar. While Northstar may not be a household name to most, as the first major openly gay superhero, he is a landmark character in terms of LGBTQIA+ visibility in mainstream comics. Introduced 45 years ago in 1979’s Uncanny X-Men #120 by legendary creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Northstar is typically depicted as a member of Alpha Flight—a team of Canadian superheroes of which Wolverine is a former member. Due to restrictions by Marvel’s editorial policies and the Comics Code Authority, Northstar’s sexual orientation was only hinted at until Alpha Flight #106 in 1992, in which the character officially came out. Although controversial, this issue immediately sold out—an unusual feat for an Alpha Flight comic at the time. Northstar would later go on to become a member of the X-Men, and in 2012, he wed his husband Kyle Jinadu in the first same-sex marriage in mainstream comics (see Astonishing X-Men: Northstar below). Superheroes still have a long way to go when it comes to inclusion, but in the meantime, let’s read up on some of the greatest LGBTQIA+ characters in comics today.

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