A new petition on Change.org created by Elena Shestakova wants to make DC Comics’ iconic villain, the Joker, gay.
The petition is targeted at DC Comics President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
“The Joker is a comic book character with almost 80 years history, half of which he was portrayed as homosexual – for instance, in such significant graphic novels as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns or Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. Neal Adams claimed that The Joker was and always had been homosexual. This opinion was shared by other comic books authors and artists for decades. That is why it’s so important to me and other queer readers to return his homosexuality.
The Joker repeatedly confessed his feelings to Batman and showed an interest in other men. Also there was Joker’s unnamed boyfriend in the graphic novel Devil’s Advocate. The Joker has many feminine traits – he uses lipstick, paints his nails, wears high heels and sometimes does crossdressing. We realize that some of these things is stereotypical, but it gives a very clear picture. Over the years, there were plenty of other queer moments in comics, cartoons and video games (especially in Batman: Arkham series).
However, in the late nineties someone decided to erase Joker’s homosexuality and introduced Harley Quinn as his girlfriend (by the way, Harley was made up for the Batman: The Animated Series to replace the Joker in one scene, in which he was supposed to jump from the cake in drag). In the mass consciousness Harley became his only love interest, although in canonical comics there is no evidence that there are romantic or sexual feelings from the Joker’s part. His enforced relationship with Harley Quinn looks like an attempt to retconned his homosexuality and turn him in acceptable straight man.
DC Comics already has a great cast of queer characters – heroes (Batwoman or Midnighter), as well as villains (Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy). Maybe some people don’t want to see the “terrible villain” as part of the LGBT community. But on the other hand, in Gotham series The Penguin became gay without any problem, and he is morally no better than the Joker. It’s not homophobic to have a queer villain. So why not let the Clown Prince of Crime “out of the closet”? DC Rebirth is an excellent reason to bring the Joker back to his roots.
We ask DC Comics to restore The Joker’s homosexuality in comics and other media. No one’s sexual identity should be changed, even it’s only a fictional character. Because sometimes fictional characters is something real people hold onto.”
While the petition does point out the Joker has “repeatedly confessed his feelings to Batman and showed an interest in other men,” a look at the character’s comic book history by the LGBT Group Project found that “Joker could never be in an intimate, long-lasting relationship, even if he could be with Batman; It’s the distance between them, the chase, the capture, and Batman’s hatred towards him that is his inspiration.”
They also conclude, “I find it difficult to think of the Joker as simply ‘gay’ as Neal Adams described him. Similar to Loki and bisexuality, the Joker’s preference is strictly Batman-centric; Even when Harley-Quinn, a peppy female villain, was introduced to be with the Joker, his focus remained on Batman despite her romantic advances.”
They even point out that Joker’s obsession with Batman makes him a more compelling and interesting character, “The Joker’s maniacal deeds are fueled by his obsession to ‘annoy’ Batman, and the idea that the Joker is in love with Batman and desires him sexually reveals a contradiction in the Joker’s life that only an absolutely insane individual can abide by.”
And they are right. Even in the recent The Lego Batman Movie, the Joker is obsessed with Batman. He plots to take over Gotham City in order to prove to Batman that he is his greatest enemy.
The petition currently has 437 signatures out of a target 500.
Do you think DC Comics and Geoff Johns should make the Joker gay?