Marvel’s treatment of LGBTQ characters has been uneven at best over the years, but the company has taken an optimistic step forward by giving us their first solo comic with a queer male lead in Iceman. While the younger Bobby Drake in recent comics has been comfortable in his own skin and romancing his new boyfriend, this series focuses on the older Bobby who is less put together, but ready to rebuild his life and legacy.
For longtime #XMen readers, Iceman being gay was always clear. Decades of not-so-subtle hints led up to the character's official coming out in 2015's All-New X-Men #40, where Jean Grey outted Bobby. Because outing someone is always a bad move, Bobby wasn't entirely comfortable admitting his true sexuality, but he soon learned to accept himself. Later in Uncanny X-Men #600, Jean and Bobby soared through the timestream to confront older Bobby about the situation. He revealed that he is also gay but decided to conceal it, afraid that he would be persecuted for being both gay and a mutant.
Bobby's story is confusing to some, but it shouldn't be. Part of this confusion comes from the fact that he dated women in the past, such as Mystique and Kitty Pryde. But Bobby's past doesn't define him, nor does his dating history change the validity of his sexuality. He reminds us that it's never too late to accept who you truly are. Speaking of Bobby's exes, Iceman #2 has him reunite with Kitty for a rescue mission. She is aware that Bobby is gay, but the way she handles this situation teaches us an important lesson about what coming out means.
Kitty Knows That Bobby Is Gay And Confronts Him About It In The Worst Way Possible
Immediately after Kitty and Bobby's reunion, she tells him that she's been hoping to have time alone to "talk." Right away, we know that is an inkling of her wanting to discuss Bobby's sexuality (because it's totally her business, right?). In the midst of saving a young mutant, Kitty gets infuriated at Bobby out of nowhere, claiming that for someone so cold, he turns everything into a hot mess. Bobby realizes that she's angry about something deeper: the fact that he didn't come out to her.
While Kitty is also human and humans can be hurt and upset and feel betrayed and not be logical when it comes to matters of the heart, it's not really about her. I do believe that Kitty would genuinely be there for Bobby—she's not the bad guy here—but the way she handled the situation highlights a component of coming out that people need to understand.
You Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation For Coming Out — Or Not
As Bobby explained above, coming out to others is hard and exhausting. Him being out of the closest does not automatically mean he has to share that with everyone. After the panel above, Kitty adds:
"But you didn't talk to me, so I just felt rejected and left out of your process all over again."
It's extremely selfish of Kitty to imply that she should be included in Bobby's process. When someone comes to terms with his or her sexuality, it's a complicated acceptance that they must go through by themselves; no one should be pushed. Bobby's sexuality is his and his alone. It's neither Kitty's nor the X-Men's, just his.
Many members in the #LGBT community often feel pressure to come out over and over again, whether it's to parents, friends or co-workers. And regardless of who you tell, coming out never gets easier. Being out, or vocalizing that you're out, isn't necessary. Sexuality isn't a choice; regardless, you don't owe anyone a thing regarding whether or not you choose to share that non-choice. Bobby not sharing this information with Kitty isn't "rejection," but simply the fact that sharing one's personal life is never an obligation. And, again, while she means well and cares, it's not about her.
Toward the end of the issue, Kitty reassures Bobby that she cares and encourages him to start "talking" more to others, starting with his parents. But, again, Bobby can come out to his parents whenever he wishes, but since we already know he will in Issue #3, this will be an important step for him. I know it's because she wants him to know that others care for him, too, that he doesn't have to hide, but it's a monumental decision that belongs to him and no one else.
As a big fan of Iceman, his solo series has been a blast so far. It's filled with fun, emotion and relatable topics. While Iceman does appeal to mainly #LGBTQ readers, it contains lessons that everyone should learn and be aware of.
Iceman #2 is available now at a comic store near you.
What are your thoughts on Bobby's second comic? Let me know in the comments below!