The Rise and Fall of Comic Book Queer Coding

Happy Pride! These days, we’re all trying to improve and educate ourselves on how we can be better to each other. With that in mind, I wanted to explore a topic particular to my own background as a queer creator/consumer: queer coding.

Queer coding is a survival tactic.

That’s a heck of a sentence, so let’s unpack it. First, it helps to understand the phrase “queer coding.” It is defined as imbuing a fictional work with queer themes or characters without ever explicitly acknowledging the queerness.

The purpose of queer coding depends largely on the author, but through most of the history of published fiction, it happens because a creator wants to explore these themes, but will face consequences for doing so, whether from the publisher, audience, or culture at large.

Why do we need to continue to move past queer coding? It’s because not only has culture and the comics audience always been at least partially gay: it’s also getting gayer.

Put simply, queer coding was a method that writers used to explore LGBTQIA+ themes they were culturally or professionally not allowed to explore. These themes sustained an LGBTQIA+ audience during their day, embraced and discussed in secret in a community that was not allowed to operate openly. It was a survival tactic. As our community has grown and the hard work of changing culture has made progress, coding is no longer sufficient. LGBTQIA+ characters and themes need to explicitly exist and need to be represented and held as valid because the audience deserves it, and creators deserve to explore it.


To learn more about Queer Coding and why it’s important to move past it, head over to DC Comics!


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The most recent example being

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From my
DC History Club
June 2021 Topic

Supergirl Being Super

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The essays I could write about this…and basically already have through various online rants :upside_down_face:

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Please do :purple_heart:

#SupercorpIsEndgame

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Interesting article. Couldn’t help but notice Golden Age Wonder Woman leading the way. :wonderwoman:

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Another article
On Kara and Lena

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Yes! And this is still true! Tom Taylor knows it! #ReleaseTheSuperCorpCut! (Spoiler: Supergirl, Dark Knights of Steel)

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Also, why is everyone freaking out about Wonder Woman, when it’s not the first time? It is the first time for Jala - the first time they actually dated. Not the first time Kara and another woman have clearly been in love. And back in the real world, where Chadwick Boseman is still alive and Toby Whithouse is the showrunner of Doctor Who*, it’s at least the second time. Is there any way Taylor will get to contribute a bit to Earth-Prime? Worst-case scenario, in three or four years when DC finally apologizes for how they treated Ruby Rose, they throw this in as a DVD extra. (Spoiler: Supergirl, Dark Knights of Steel, Earth-Prime)

*In case you’re wondering, in this timeline, everyone’s happy, and Chibnall escaped into the world he always wanted: A Weeping Angel took him to the 1970s, back when having seen the first ten seasons meant you knew anything about Doctor Who, and having a Black character made you woke. Both things Chibnall has desperately tried to convince us he is, but no one’s buying it, man.

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I guess my ultimate point, @TheTerrificToyman, is that unfortunately, what you posted is now a monument to the continued existence of coding. But it’ll be okay, eventually. For how long it’ll take, you can compare this to two different moments in DC history:

  1. The Snyder Cut. It took DC two years to acknowledge its existence, three years to agree to release it, and four years to actually release it, but it finally happened.

Or

  1. Tim and Conner. Frankly, I’m not sure which is more optimistic. Because yes, it took fourteen years for Tim to come out, and it’ll probably be a while before Tim and Conner are finally a couple, but thanks to Dark Knights of Steel, it’s become clear that we’re using a different type of time here, and fourteen years is now a month, so at most it’ll be weeks. Unless it’s the Snyder Cut.

(Spoiler: Supergirl, Batman: Urban Legends, Dark Knights of Steel)

Also, I saw in an article on Fandom that the ending of The Legend of Korra would be different today. Well, that “today” was like four years ago, and it’s not twenty-■■■■■■■-fourteen anymore. So please, DC, be at least as progressive as the network with Captain Man.

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