LGBT heroes and villains have been making the realm of superheroes a more colorful place for nearly 40 years. From gay martial arts masters and lesbian detectives to badass bisexual antiheroes and transgender magicians, these are 65 characters that’ve left their mark and helped change the genre.
Originally introduced in 1956 to silence critics who claimed Batman and Robin were gay lovers, Kate Kane was reintroduced in 2006 as a lesbian who became one of Gotham’s caped crime fighters after her service in the U.S. Army was cut short when her sexuality was discovered while the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell "policy was in effect.
Introduced as a member of the covert strike team Stormwatch, Apollo draws energy from the sun and is able to store it within his body. His powers include flight, thermal vision, near invulnerability, and super strength. Though he is currently single, the character has been romantically involved with Midnighter throughout much of his history.
The first superhero to utter the words “I am gay” in the pages of a mainstream comic (1992’s Alpha Flight #106) made history once more 20 years later when he married his partner, Kyle, in Astonishing X-Men #51 — the first same-sex wedding in the Marvel Universe. Northstar’s abilities include super speed and flight.
The son of the Scarlet Witch and a key member of the teen superhero team Young Avengers, William “Billy” Kaplan is a powerful magician with powers only limited by his own imagination. His romance with teammate Hulkling is one of the few ongoing gay teen relationships depicted in mainstream comics.
A key member of the teen superhero team Young Avengers, Teddy Altman possesses shape-shifting abilities and super-strength. As one of the few out gay teen superheroes in modern comics, Hulkling (along with his boyfriend and teammate Wiccan) quickly became one of the biggest LGBT icons in the Marvel Universe.
A former member of the Young Avengers, and twin brother to Wiccan, Tommy Shepherd recently came out as bisexual is dating his teammate Prodigy. He has speed based powers and he and Wiccan appeared as small children in Disney+'s series WandaVision.
Everyone’s favorite superpowered lesbian Latina, America Chavez wins hearts and fans in every comic shes in. Her powers include invulnerability, strength, and the ability to punch through dimensions. She’s had her own solo series and stars in Young Avengers alongside other queer heroes like Prodigy, Kid Loki, Noh-Varr, Hulkling, and Wiccan.
Making his first appearance in Detective Comics #311 in 1963, Thomas Blake was given a modern update by writer Gail Simone in 2005. Since DC’s company-wide reboot in 2013, the clever criminal has been depicted as a lover of both men and women, solidifying his status as a badass bisexual among Batman’s array of villains.
Roxy Washington is the daughter of hip-hop artists Roy “Daddy Libido” Washington and Angel “Sexy Mutha” Depres — rap royalty in the Marvel Universe. Turning her back on the music industry, she joined the X-Men, where she learned to hone her mutant abilities to produce diamond shards from her bone marrow that can be fired as projectiles and also gives her skin superhuman durability.
Able to create seismic waves and topple buildings, Rictor has been in and out of the X-Men universe since the late 1980s. While he, like many other mutants, found himself temporarily without his powers, Rictor found his calling as a private investigator and comfort in the warm embrace of Shatterstar.
Shatterstar was genetically programmed to become a machine-like arena gladiator in the distant future. After traveling to the present and numerous adventures with X-Force, he developed a relationship with fellow mutant Rictor. While Shatterstar still struggles with understanding human emotions, the couple have faced demons and survived death together.
Making her debut in Runaways #1, Karolina Dean joined a group of teens who discover their parents are part of an evil crime organization known as The Pride. She is able to absorb and manipulate solar energy which she can then use in many ways, including flight, creating force fields, and producing laser blasts.
Jackson Hyde, a new version of a character previously named Kaldur'ahm in the Young Justice animated series, is the bisexual protege of Aquaman. Not only can he breathe underwater and has enhanced strength, but he has hydrokinesis, which allows him to use water to create solid objects like swords.
Fans have shipped Poison Ivy with fellow Batman villain Harley Quinn ever since the pair first appeared together in Batman: The Animated Series, and finally, they're together in canon now. Poison Ivy has god-like control over plants and plant growth, and in both the comics and in the Harley Quinn animated show, she recently got together with longtime best friend Harley Quinn.
Sometimes a friend to the X-Men but more often a foe, shape-shifting assassin Mystique is a character who defies categorization when it comes to her sexuality. Mystique was written so as to have a relationship with confidante Destiny, but the editorial authorities at the time prevented it from being displayed on page.
Once a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants, Irene Adler possesses the mutant ability of precognition. For many years she was in a relationship with her shape-shifting teammate Mystique, and the two raised an adopted daughter together — a young mutant named Anna Marie who would later become the X-Man known as Rogue.
One of the newer gay characters in the Marvel universe, writer Josh Trujillo and artist Jan Bazaldua recently introduced Aaron Fischer, a young gay man who was inspired by the original Captain America to become a hero in his own community.
Dreamer, aka, Nia Nal, is a trans woman with the power of Oneiromancy, or using dreams to tell the future. This version of the character was introduced in the TV show Supergirl, as played by Nicole Maines, and she'll be making her comics debut this June!
A martial arts expert trained by the League of Assassins, Sara Lance took on the code name Canary and had romantic relationships with both Oliver Queen (The Arrow) and the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Nyssa Raatko, on the CW series Arrow. She is the first LGBT superhero to appear in a mainstream TV series.
Making his first appearance way back in The Flash volume 1, #106, Hartley Rathaway was once a member of the Scarlet Speedster’s villainous rivals the Rogues who wielded a flute with hypnotic powers. An expert in sonic technology, he later reformed, came out of the closet, and aided the Flash in several adventures.
Jess Chambers is one of many heroes in the DC Universe to tap into the Speed Force, and the first nonbinary member of the Flash family. They were introduced in a special comic featuring characters from throughout the DC mulitverses.
Sera is a transgender angel, who was one of the first trans characters in Marvel Comics, and could be called their first trans woman superhero. She was created by Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett, and Phil Jiminez, and her love story with Angela is one of the most groundbreaking queer relationships in Marvel history.
The fastest human alive on Earth 36, this dimension-hopping hero is a self-professed “comic book nerd” who found love with his Justice 9 teammate Flashlight. He was later recruited to join President Superman of Earth 2’s super team, Justice Incarnate, to defend all of creation across the multiverse.
Created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson in the pages of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Koi Boi, aka Ken Shiga, is the first trans man superhero in Marvel comics. While his fish-based powers (talking to fish, flopping a great distance, growing to fit the size of his contianer) may not seem impressive, he's a powerful ally to have when the times come to it.
Debuting in Adventure Comics #66 (1941), Shining Knight is a sixth-century English Knight of the Round Table and a member of King Arthur’s Court with magically empowered armor and weapons as well as a winged horse named Victory. The character was reimagined in the 2005 miniseries Seven Soldiers and was later revealed to be the first intersex character in the DC Universe.
Daughter of the immortal villain Vandal Savage and a member of the super team Secret Six, Scandal Savage has enhanced durability and can regrow damaged organs. A ferocious fighter, she often employs a set of wrist-mounted blades — weapons that have remained in her family for several generations.
Recruited by Green Arrow’s former sidekick, Roy Harper (Arsenal), to join a reformed version of the super team known as the Outsiders, Grace Choi is half Amazon and carries the gifts of the gods Athena, Aphrodite, Demeter, Hera, and Hestia, which give her increased strength, durability, speed, and stamina.
Introduced just this year is Somnus, a powerful mutant who can control other people’s dreams, but has never been able to follow his own. You can find out more about him when he makes his comics debut in Marvel Voices: Pride #1 this June.
A vastly different take on Supergirl’s pet Comet the super horse, this version of the character was introduced in Peter David’s Supergirl #14 (1997) and was a winged centaur Earth-born angel that was the combined form of bisexual female Andrea Martinez and the heterosexual male jockey Andrew Jones.
Introduced in the pages of Doom Patrol, Danny the Street is an actual sentient stretch of roadway with the power to teleport and integrate himself into a city’s geography. He is described as a transvestite with a flamboyant personality whose sidewalks are often lined with stores such as gun shops and sporting goods shops, which he decorates with traditionally feminine objects such as pink lace.