Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why Do We Like X-Men?, Part 3

Reason #3: The Choice

At the heart of the X-Men mythology, is a deep conflict: We are different, so what do we do about that?

There are several options: embrace it as you would any part of your being, hide the secret, try to change, etc. These are the same options we have.

The storyline of X-Men, for better or for worse, tends to favor that first option. Mutants go to Professor X’s institute to learn to manage and control that part of their life rather than forsaking it, and each of them handles it in the way he or she feels best, at times reverting to the other options.

One thing that made the X-Men stand out from other heroes like Spiderman or Batman (and leave it to a gay man to make this observation) has to do with their costumes. The majority of the X-Men don’t conceal their identities with masks.

No Masks

This detail suggests that the X-Men don’t divide their lives quite like other superheroes. Since their powers are part of their identity down to their very genetics, a mask becomes a symbol of fear and shame for one’s identity—the very antithesis of what the X-Men stand for.

That brings us back to the other options, to hide and to cure. Hiding is an option that almost becomes second nature the nature of difference, from our youth, often dictates that if we stand out in any way, we will become an object of ridicule, especially in the case of differing sexualities.

This sense of shame can easily escalate into a desire to be cured and become ‘normal,’ conforming to the ideals of society. In the case of our LDS culture, it is to marry in the temple, have children, etc. As sexual difference directly conflicts with this ideal, the obvious solution to this conflict is a cure.

cure In the comics as well as the third film, a cure for the mutant gene becomes a reality (within the fiction), and some of them do indeed choose a ‘normal’ non-mutant life while others have it forced upon them.

A cure to homosexuality is a complicated and touchy subject—one which raises many questions. Mister Curie posed several in his latest comment:

…How many gay mormons would try to be cured if it were possible (how many try to be cured now even though there isn't much evidence for Evergreen and other approaches being very effective)?... Is there a cure in Christ through the atonement, or does there even need to be a cure?...

Personally, the idea of taking a piece of my life that suddenly made everything else make sense upon realization and purposefully changing it, by nature, seems destructive. I don’t think that everyone should hold the same views that I do, but I would be hiding if I didn’t say that I am thankful for my friends, my experiences, my growth, my identity as a Gay Mormon Boy.

For these reasons, I tend to identify with Angel who lets his wings grow back and, rejecting the cure his father provides, flies away embracing his wings.

angel2 End of series.


Mister Curie said...

Great post. I love X-men and it has a lot more meaning to my life now that I've realized/accepted my sexuality. Sorry to steal some of your thunder yesterday. . . I guess we're on the same wavelength. Accepting one's sexuality, of course, brings up questions of how to appropriately embrace one's sexuality. Are the confines the LDS church places on sexuality truly the only acceptable way? I was married and had a kid before I realized/accepted my homosexual tendancies (I still hold out that I may be bisexual because I have a great sex life with my wife), but that adds another layer of complexity to the question of how to embrace one's sexuality. I certainly don't want to do anything to hurt our relationship, because it is AMAZING! But, as a married man, how can I safely and constructively explore my sexuality? My current answer has been to join the MoHo blogernaccle.

Rob said...

As per prior comment, I haven't watched X-Men much but now I'm more intrigued. I'm gonna have to check out this Angel guy because he sounds like me too, somebody that embraces what makes him unique and wouldn't want it changed even if that were possible. So I'm with you there, GMB. I've blogged about it myself, in fact. I don't want it gone, I wouldn't take a "magic pill" even if it were available. The only change I've seen after years of trying to repress and deny who I was is the change from fear and shame and secrecy to openness, happiness, and peace as I learned to be grateful for the way I was made.

Unknown said...

I'm loving this little series of entries you got here!

I remember watching The Last Stand with my family once it was released on DVD. I was still closeted, and I remember the part about "the cure." One of my brothers at that time complained about how much he was sick of the movie trilogy because it promoted the homosexual agenda constantly.

Andy said...

Honestly, I never made the connection between the homosexual lifestyle and plight before. I just watched the X-Men series for entertainment, but now I am going to have to watch them again from a different perspective. Movie party!
Oh, and great great comments. I wish I looked into films as deep as you.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@Mr. Curie: Don't worry about any thunder robbery. I was able to use your comments for a very good point. Thanks for sharing your story. The MoHo Bloggernacle welcomes you. (An aside: I've never really cared for the sound of MoHo).

@Alan: It's nice to be on the same page in this. It's odd to think that something so logical as openness and honesty (with ourselves) would lead to happiness.

@Evan: Thanks! Sorry to hear about the family experience. It sounds like a few of my own.

@Andy: I'm glad you liked it. It was hard to write. At first I didn't really make the connections, but as I got going, I realized I was doing my best to keep it limited to 3 entries.

Grant Haws said...

I love, love, love the Storm quote about the "cure": "No, Professor. They can't cure us. You want to know why? Because there's nothin' to cure. Nothing's wrong with you. Or any of us, for that matter."

I never really thought about the mask issue and the compartment way superheroes often exist, but I am glad you pointed it out because I think it is an important point. The X-men are confident enough in their identity that no masks are required.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@Grant: Love the quote! As for the masks, I feel like that is the single original observation in the piece.

Cole said...


Reading this left me with quite a few memories of wishing my own mask could have been my "cure", or that, in hiding features of myself and assuming the roles someone else provided me, I could at least be loved by someone. Remember Tristan? The opera? And that damned engagement ring? Thank God I learned lies, masks and phantoms never cure anything.

What constitutes "the cure" anyway? Perhaps a redefining of what we think "the cure" is in order. There's nothing wrong with homosexuality (or with those mutants, for that matter -- my goodness, some of those abs!), but there is definitely something quite sinful about the "fear and shame for one’s identity" we may sometimes feel as GMB's. Why don't we focus on curing those sorts of feelings, weaknesses and tendencies?

We're vibrant boys and girls, my boys and girls, and we need to love all that is in us!

Chase said...

I have always loved X-men. I played with the action figures starting around the age of five. As I grew X-men became more personal to me. It was created to promote a homosexual agenda, it was more focused on racism back in the day. Regardless it represents the oppressed. That oppression is a story worth telling, especially in spandex.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@ Cole: Oh how I remember dear Tristan. That story does, after all, reveal a lot about our friendship and our development within the spere of the Gay Mormon Dilemma and deserves its own post in due time. (Perhaps the time has come for some collaboration? I've got some possibilities in mind).

@Kurt: Yay for Spandex and below-the-surface analysis.

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