July 25, 2019 at 9:39 am PDT | by Susan Hornik
The queering of San Diego Comic-Con

San Diego Comic-Con featured a diverse array of panels, characters and cosplay. (Blade photo by Susan Hornik)

Celebrating its 50th year, (just like Stonewall!) San Diego Comic-Con is working hard to be inclusive, showing support for the LGBTQ community with its numerous industry panels, plethora of gender fluid cosplay and showcasing queer characters in new television series and movies. 

There was big LGBTQ news out of the four-day confab — at the Marvel panel, it was announced that Tessa Thompson will be the first openly gay superhero, Valkyrie, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “First of all, as new king, she needs to find her queen. So that will be her first order of business. She has some ideas. Keep you posted.”

Thompson can also be seen in HBO’s “Westworld.” In the trailer, it looks like she and Evan Michael Wood’s characters are headed to a bisexual romance. Both actresses have strongly advocated for queer visibility in pop culture.

While Ruby Rose was not at Comic-Con due to a tight production shooting schedule, a panel about her new CW series, “Batwoman,” (premieres Oct. 6), in which she plays a lesbian super hero, was. 

In an Instagram post, Rose expressed immense disappointment about not attending.

“I’m not going to be there, which stinks, a lot,” Rose acknowledged. “But just know that we tried everything that we could humanly to be there,” Rose said. “It wasn’t until really now that we realized there wasn’t any other way to finish this episode, this ambitious episode that we’re doing, and create this amazing show that really is special.”

The gender fluid model, who became an instant celebrity after her short film “Break Free,” premiered, added: “We want you to love it and be proud of it, and be entertained and to laugh and to cry and to be empowered. And that means that in this particular instance, I got to work and bring Kate Kane, Batwoman to the screen.”

During the panel, the executive producers Sarah Schechter and Caroline Dries talked about their excitement for the new series. 

“Representation is everything and diversity is our strength,” said Schechter. “We love this character and we love her sexuality and we love her beyond her sexuality… We’re really proud of being able to have an out lesbian woman front and center of these shows.”

Also, Nafessa Williams, who plays television’s first black lesbian superhero on the CW’s “Black Lightning,” will be deepening her role this fall too.

There were many LGBTQ-themed panels that attracted attendees, like “Black and Queer in Popular Media,” “Queer Fear” and “LGBTQ, Mental Health and Comics.”

Bisexual illustrator Alice Meichi Li was a panelist on “Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender, and the Comic Book Medium.” She appreciated Comic-Con’s increased commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

“San Diego Comic Con has continued its support of the LGBTQ community, with its 32nd year of ‘Out in Comics: Tearing Down a Stonewall,’ the longest-running convention panel in the comic world,” Meichi said. “The significance carries additional weight this year for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, but this panel derives some of its longevity to the fact that San Diego and its Hillcrest neighborhood especially, has long been a safe haven for queer people.”

Only about a month after the release of “Good Omens” on Amazon Prime depicted Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s love story between an angel and a demon, SDCC was graced with gender-fluid cosplays of the protagonists who are male-presenting on the show, noted Li.

“The fact that Gaiman (writer/showrunner), Douglas Mackinnon (director), Michael Sheen and David Tennant (actors) have all co-signed on the queer romance aspect of this story as well as fans’ identification with their queerness is seminal for a fantasy series of this scale.”

The news that Valkyrie will be Marvel’s first openly LGBTQ superhero, excited Li as well.

“This is a welcome, albeit overdue, announcement. The fact that they already cut a scene that revealed her romantic relationship with a woman from ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ makes me cautiously optimistic as to how they will handle Valkyrie’s love life in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder.’”

She continued: “Valkyrie’s actress, Tessa Thompson, has long spoken about her character’s bisexuality, but I wonder if Valkyrie’s new search for ‘her Queen’ will end up contributing to the bi-erasure that’s pervasive in media today. Here’s hoping that there are people of all genders in the running to become Valkyrie’s new Queen.”

If ever you are in San Diego for the weekend, check out gay-friendly places like the beautiful Kona Kai Resort and Spa (the food and view are amazing!), and the incredible new restaurant, Serea, in the Hotel Del Coronado.

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