Throughout over half a century of existence, the X-Men comics have served as a big metaphor for acceptance and tolerance. Marvel has crafted some highly intriguing stories about our favourite merry mutants. We've learned a lot from their pages. But, recently, they dropped a bombshell that shook the base of readers to its core.
Bobby Drake, better known as founding member Iceman, has come out of the closet and revealed himself to be homosexual. This was met with a myriad of emotions and reactions. Most people welcomed the change. Some panned it as a publicity stunt. Others are still confused as to why or how this came about. Like every other event, I have my own opinion.
Some people criticized the manner in which this revelation came about. Jean Grey read his mind and called him out. Most people rallied saying that Bobby should have done this on his own terms. There are two sides to that coin. If he had kept this ruse up for this long, I doubt he would have taken the initiative to publicly announce his sexuality. But, Bobby and Jean have been friends for years. Only a true friend, when given the opportunity, will address such an important and deep issue like this. It's very plausible to imagine that Jean also knew the pain that he must have felt for all of these years, concealing the truth about himself. She probably sought to ease that pain. It may have indeed been more impactful for Bobby to have taken the initiative himself. But, in doing so Jean also displayed a nice measure of support as a friend.
When I lived in Pensacola, I met a guy through some mutual friends that was gay and also named Jacob. His first words to me was the fact that he hated having to address people with his same name. I told him that wasn't a problem since most everyone called me Cobb instead of Jacob anyway. He laughed it off, saying most of us country boys that grew up on a farm do have nicknames. He followed that up stating that I could call him Tinkerbell because he was a fairy. We made good friends and always joked about this first encounter. All too often his greeting to me was, “How are things in the breeder world?” Did I take this offensively? No. It was an acknowledgement in good fun of our differences. The world should learn how to do this a lot more often.
All in all, I see this as a wonderful development. Even though it is a fictional universe, the world of comics is meant to mirror our own reality. So, why should almost every character be straight when the proportions in the real world are so different? I hope that this serves as an uplifting event to people “living in the closet” as they say. As long as it is not anything that hurts another, everyone should always be proud about every aspect of themselves, regardless of what that may be. This may give some younger comic readers the courage to be themselves without fear of reprisal. Bobby Drake is now yet another in a long line of stigma-breaking comic characters; and that makes Iceman a whole lot cooler.