It’s always been easier to say, “I enjoy comic books” then “I am gay.” In school, comic books sheltered me from isolation growing because they offered a world to escape into that was more acceptable than homosexuality. The differences I had from other boys was easily masked by the label “geek.” I welcomed being considered a geek because it allowed me to avoid being ostracized as a “sissy.” The popular boys were my superheroes, the ones that I modeled my failed mimicry after because they embodied acceptability, which I could not do on my own.
Away from school, comic books provided a space to explore my queer identity, which has allowed me to state my queerness with greater confidence. Prior to comic books, queer experiences shown in TV mass-media were rooted in pain, neglected, and isolated. Comic books offered the first examples of characters who took their uniqueness, and amplified them to create identities that were admired. The loud personalities of super-heroes demonstrated to me that it was possible to be accepted for brashness. Super-heroes, like myself, hid their true self behind mild-mannered civilian identities. A world was opened to me where underneath the mask I created in school the true self was possible to be celebrated, and accepted, for its accomplishments.