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John Byrne
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Grumpy Old Guy

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 1:32am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Found this in an article about “Marvel’s first Gay superhero”:

“Besides men coming in and out of his home, or lingering shirtless in the background of panels, Northstar was coded through the unique perspective of how straight men typically view gay men. As Ben Bolling points out, he was portrayed as vain, sarcastic, and reckless….”

Okay, class, what’s missing here?

As I have made clear many times in the decades since I created him, Northstar was Gay from “day two”. The character was not homosexual when I first conceived him. That came later, when Alpha Flight got their own series and I was looking for ways to give them depth beyond being able to survive a fight with the X-Men. I decided to make one of them Gay, and by a process of elimination settled on Northstar. Those “cliche” attributes were in place before I’d given any thought to his sexual orientation.

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Brian Morris
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 4:05am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Mr. Byrne---Was there any editorial push back at the time?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 10:58am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I was told I could make Northstar Gay—but only in my head. I could not state his preference explicitly.
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Craig Earl
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 12:02pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

After Puck, Northstar was my favourite member of Alpha Flight. I didn't notice the subtle references at the time but I do recall someone in an AF letters page (I believe it was during JB's tenure), mentioning that Northstar was 'obviously gay'. 

Looking back, the signs were there.

I would have loved to have seen your reveal, JB, had you stayed on the book long enough for attitudes to change. 

Mainly because the issue that made history, AF 106, was so bloody awful.
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Paul Gibney
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 12:55pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The fact that it was mentioned on the letters page is
something of a reveal in itself. The letters are selected,
not random. If it appears on the letters page, that's a
deliberate choice.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 1:06pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Wait. I linger around shirtless in the background sometimes. Do I not know
myself as well as I thought I did?
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Ryan Maxwell
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 3:34pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

“Lingering shirtless” male character that just climbed out of the pool to answer Heather’s phone call. Let’s ignore context, not do research, or linger in the 1920’s, huh?
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 5:51pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply


 QUOTE:
I was told I could make Northstar Gay—but only in my head. I could not state his preference explicitly.

Regardless of the editorial will being imposed, I tend to think it's a good default setting that characters be open to reader interpretation. Why limit them? Reed Richards and Susan Storm became a couple early on, which led to their marriage and a child as 'events' and markers of real time that could not be undone, and there also should be characters who are most definitely and demonstrably gay as well, but for the most part it's most inclusive (and commercially open to the widest audience) to have them not officially pinned down and open to being whatever the reader wants or sees if they even go there.

My view of Northstar initially was of a Quicksilver 'type'... part of a brother and sister pair and hot-headed, but unlike Quicksilver he did wear an outfit matching his sister. Perhaps in that there was some kind of seed (or was she deigning to dress as him)? I think he is definitely masculine, good looking, and confident, which is to say more a real human being and not any kind of stereotype. His sister in contrast, brought up in a very conservative environment was the one suppressing their fuller self, the 'closet' stereotype, and who eventually 'came out' flamboyantly (if later relapsing).
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Eric Smearman
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Posted: 02 October 2022 at 8:28pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I don't recall any mention of Northstar being gay in the AF
letter column. I can't imagine Marvel of the time allowing
such a comment to be printed. I do remember reading JB in a
column or article in COMICS SCENE (I think?) remarking on
how female readers were quicker than the guys to pick up on
the hints re: Jean-Paul's sexual orientation.
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Brian Price
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Posted: 03 October 2022 at 12:06am | IP Logged | 10 post reply


 QUOTE:
I would have loved to have seen your reveal, JB, had you stayed on the book long enough for attitudes to change.


JB, if things had changed enough while you were still on the book that you could get away with a reveal, would you have actually done it?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 October 2022 at 12:24am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Probably not. Since I managed to spread the word despite the editorial injunction, I think it would have worked best as a “shared secret”.
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Craig Earl
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Posted: 03 October 2022 at 6:31am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I don't recall any mention of Northstar being gay in the AF
letter column. I can't imagine Marvel of the time allowing
such a comment to be printed.

-------------

Awww man. You're gonna make me dig this out (I have the entire run but it's all in storage). Anyone else have access to this?
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