The Comics Code Authority was instituted in 1953 to «protect the minds of the youth», or more concretely to censor “immoral” comicbooks. The problem was that their concept of immorality was rather broad, including in example having colored protagonists, depicting corrupted institutional figures, showing «indecence» and much more. It is not a coincidence that the Authority was a darling of senator Kefauver, the infamous bigot who cracked down on fetish photographers and Bettie Page.
Media experts agree that this censorship crippled the industry and the development of comics as an art form in the United States for many decades, leading to generally bland stories until the late 1980s. “Underground” and imported books existed, of course, but the general public was condemned to domesticated publications shunned by most adults and intelligent people. Even if the Code ceased to exist about ten years ago, some old habits were hard to die… until today.
The latest issue of DC Comics’ Batgirl marks an historical day for the culture of sexual diversity. Alysia Yeoh, the roommate of titular character Barbara Gordon, came out as a transgendered person (and bisexual to boot), in an amusing “confession” scene about secret identities. And yes, she said it first.
Before any ubergeek reader starts correcting me: this is not the first trans character for DC on the whole. The title goes to Wanda, an important supporting role in the unrivaledSandman, and of course the even cooler Fanny in The invisibles was as genderqueer as they come… but those were “niche series” targeted to comics conoisseurs –while this time we are talking about a mainstream series that is going to tastefully expose a much larger number of readers to the concept of diversity.
Batgirl, by the way, wasn’t as shocked as you may think. Er… you did know she’s openly lesbian, didn’t you?