Ever since William Moulton Marston first conceived of a Paradise Island populated only by women, readers have wondered if Wonder Woman's home is secretly some kind of lesbian utopia. Cut off from "Man's World" for centuries, the Amazons of #DC Comics lead a peaceful life, one filled with culture, science, and love — platonic or otherwise. Over the years, many people have interpreted this to mean that the Amazons pursue romantic relationships with each other, because really, are we supposed to believe that this civilization would know nothing of love, just because there aren't a few men wandering around?
As it turns out, this interpretation was no accident. Involved in the queer scene himself thanks to his two long-term romantic partners (Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne), Marston deliberately inserted gay subtext into the early Wonder Woman comics. Even his successor, Robert Kanigher, freely spoke about how he believed the Amazons to be lesbians, but that he was prevented from making this clear in the comics thanks to the Comics Code that was later instated.
While later comics have made it very clear that the Amazons are as Sapphic as the poet mistress herself — and Wonder Woman has had several female lovers — it seemed highly unlikely that the Patty Jenkins-directed movie would take this interpretation. And yet, although Gal Gadot's Diana doesn't seem to be experienced in the ways of sweet lesbian love, Wonder Woman still made it subtly clear that the Amazons defy all our heterosexual conventions.
Barely-Subtextual Queer Hints In Wonder Woman
There are a few key moments that quietly but firmly establish the Amazons' sexuality. The most obvious one comes when Diana is leaving Themiscyra with Steve Trevor — spurred on by Steve's unwillingness to sleep next to her (he is chivalrous in an adorably awkward way), Diana questions Steve about the conventions of love and marriage in "Man's World." It soon becomes clear that although the Amazons do not have a concept of marriage (which is contrary to the comics), they definitely engage in various pleasurable activities with each other.
Diana tells Steve that she has read "all twelve" volumes of the Amazonian treatise on love and sexuality, saying that he would not like the conclusions drawn in the books.
"It was decided that although men are required for procreation, when it comes to pleasure they are unnecessary."
Hmmm, I wonder how the Amazons came to this conclusion? (Wink.)
But this isn't the only nod to the Amazons' Sapphic leanings. There's a more subtle hint in the form of the character of Menalippe, Antiope's right-hand woman and apparent romantic partner. The two characters are together often and when (spoiler alert!) Antiope is slain in battle, Menalippe cries out and runs to her while the other Amazons stand silent and mournful.
The passion Menalippe expresses seems to be because the two were romantically involved — and this is no surprise, as Menalippe was one of the first lesbian Amazons in the comics. As far back as 1989, George Perez's Wonder Woman Vol. 2 clearly depicted Menalippe as being in a romantic relationship with Penelope, again establishing that the Amazons are far from strictly heterosexual.
Of course, there is a counter point to be made about the Amazons being entirely gay (and one that is spoilerific, so now's the time to "x" out of the tab if you haven't seen the movie yet!). Diana herself falls in love with Steve Trevor, and Hippolyta is implied to have had a sexual relationship with Zeus — although this is left rather ambiguous, and it's possible that the made-from-clay origin still stands. But this isn't really an argument against the Amazons being queer. After all, bisexuality is totally a thing, and many comic creators have identified Wonder Woman as being bisexual rather than gay or straight.
The Amazons have long represented an anti-establishment and anti-normative defiance of the society we live in, and this is exemplified in their romantic love for each other. Although Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman couldn't go into this in depth, it's nice to know that there are still those barely-subtextual nods that, for those who are paying attention, make it clear that the Amazons really don't need men for anything — especially when it comes to love.
Tell us in the comments: Would you like to see Wonder Woman get a girlfriend in the sequel?
(Source: Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation by Carolyn Cocca)