In the series following superhero team The Authority Batman/Superman analogues Midnighter and Apollo shared a kiss in 2000. A decade later Kevin Keller premiered in an issue of Veronica, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics history; he meets his future husband in a military hospital after being wounded in action. This year Young Avengers Hulking and Wiccan shared their first kiss, the result of the former proposing to the latter. Not to be outdone, fellow Marvel character Northstar will actually be beating the couple to the altar with his fiance this June.
Two days ago, May 20th, DC Senior VP Publicity Courtney Simmons announced that “One of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June.”
As far as the Big Two go, Marvel’s ahead of the game. In this case, “the game” refers to “positive representations of homosexuals in comics.” Northstar announced “I am gay” in 1992, and since then has been followed by characters such as X-Man Graymalkin, Avengers Academy member Striker, and alternate-universe versions of many, many characters. In comparison, “new” Batwoman Katherine Kane is a lesbian, and is currently heading her own ongoing series, something Marvel can’t claim.
To be more specific, DC is going to reintroduce a previously existing character (previously straight) as “one of [their] most prominent gay characters.” This means that the character will not be Batman or Superman. As someone who can’t really get behind the company’s New 52 2011 relaunch I cannot speculate on what remaining characters may be coming out as gay. What I can state, however, is why other “major, iconic” characters could never be rebooted in this way.
It’s not because of fan outrage, though that’s a factor. So many of the really iconic DC characters have rich histories which involve their heterosexual love interests. It’s difficult to imagine Clark Kent without Lois Lane and her reporting on the Big Blue Boy Scout, and basically every male hero has a girlfriend who has played a significant part in their formation as a character. Batman is a character whose sexuality defines him almost not at all, though in his case his long-questioned relationship with the Boy Wonder may prove iffy.
That being said, I don’t see how major and/or iconic this gay DC character can be. To be that said character will have to have been around for a number of years. Fans are always complaining about something, but to retcon years of history will be a very messy process. I’m looking forward to finding out who it is, but am skeptical about how much clout the person will really have in the grand scheme of things.