Meet Extrano, the Gay Superhero DC Comics Would Rather You Forget
Hot on the heels of Marvel Comics superhero Northstar tieing the knot with his longtime boyfriend, comes news that DC Comics is outing one of their major superheroes. Gay superheroes are nothing new: Northstar has been out since the ’90s, while DC has had a lesbian Batwoman for years.
However, the folks at DC Comics weren’t always so enlightened with their portrayals of homosexual characters. There is one gay superhero from the ’80s that DC Comics would probably rather you forget. Meet Extraño, the gay Hispanic magician.
First appearing in the pages of 1988’s ‘Millenium’ comic book series, Extraño has a, shall we say, problematic history. A Peruvian magician, he made a few appearances in ‘Green Lantern’ comics and was part of the New Guardians, a team of Z-list heroes like The Floronic Man who were supposed to save humanity but quickly faded into obscurity.
While he never actually came out, Extraño fit every single stereotype of the poorly-written homosexual character. His flamboyant wardrobe, stereotypical lisp, obsession with his hair, outrageous jewelry and penchant for calling himself “Auntie” (“Listen to Auntie, sweetie!”) made him the default “gay uncle” of the New Guardians. Despite having vague, Dr. Strange-esque mystical powers, Extraño really didn’t do much besides offer advice and drop sexual double entendres.
Even more troubling is how Extraño’s time in the DC Universe came to an end. After being talked out of suicide by The Flash (really), Extraño was infected with HIV by an “AIDs Vampire” named (wait for it) Hemo-Goblin. (It was the late ’80s, folks.) He was eventually killed off in the pages of ‘Green Lantern’ and, unlike most comic book characters, has yet to return from the grave.
It’s safe to say DC Comics would rather Extraño stay dead and buried with whatever plans they have for making their comic books more inclusive. For now, he’s an unfortunate reminder of a less-enlightened time.