TV gradually embracing LGBT superheroes

As a gay Latina growing up in Chicago, the only time Dr. Erika Gisela Abad would see someone like herself on a television screen was if she happened to catch her reflection.

Now, she can proudly name six series — CBS’ “Madam Secretary,” NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the Netflix reboot of “One Day at a Time,” the Starz drama “Vida” and The CW duo of “Charmed” and “Jane the Virgin” — that prominently feature LGBT Latina characters.

“It’s a beautiful thing to think about what those shows are doing,” she says, and how those shows, had they existed when I was younger, I probably would have come out sooner.”

An assistant professor in residence at UNLV who specializes in queer fandom, Abad knows how powerful it can be for today’s LGBT youth to see themselves represented not just on TV, but in some of the most popular characters around: superheroes.

The latest example, Batwoman, was missing from the pages of DC Comics for 27 years until she was reintroduced in 2006 as a lesbian crimefighter. The character makes her television debut, with her sexuality intact, at 8 p.m. Monday on The CW’s “Arrow.”

“Thinking about people who avenge things … comic book characters are really asking, ‘What does it take to be part of social change?’” Abad says. “Allowing the people who are asking those questions to be more than white men, to be more than white gender-normative men, and to be queer, to be gender-fluid, to be lesbian, to have multiple roles, is a really big deal.”

It will be an even bigger deal if, as planned, Batwoman and her alter-ego, Kate Kane, get their own spinoff series next season.

The characters would be right at home on The CW.

In October, the network’s “Supergirl” introduced Nia Nal, an aspiring reporter who, as Dreamer, would become TV’s first transgender superhero.

A new creation, Nia (portrayed by trans actress and activist Nicole Maines) is the ancestor of the DC hero Nura Nal, aka Dream Girl. Nia arrived in National City amid growing anti-alien sentiment and a rise in hate crimes against extraterrestrials. When Brainiac 5’s (Jesse Rath) cloaking device was hacked and he no longer was able to present as human, Nia stepped in to protect him from angry employees at his favorite pizzeria.

Upon her return to the office, Nia confronted her boss, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), and pleaded with him to write an editorial endorsing alien acceptance. “You may not know this about me, but I’m a transgender woman,” she told him. “I know what it’s like to be attacked and denied because of who I am.”

Subtle? Nope. Especially compared to last year’s storyline in which Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl’s sister, fell in love with a female detective. But it was unprecedented nonetheless.

This year also saw expert occultist John Constantine (Matt Ryan) join The CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow.” It’s the first time the character, previously played by Ryan in the short-lived NBC series “Constantine” and Keanu Reeves in the 2005 movie of the same name, has been portrayed as bisexual — jas he has been in the DC comics for more than a quarter century.

In January, “Black Lightning” debuted on The CW, along with Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams), a lesbian medical student who teams with her father, the titular masked hero, to fight crime as Thunder.

It’s all a far cry from the days when Abad, 35, had to make due with whatever role models she could find on television, no matter how little they represented her life. Will Smith in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and the cast of “A Different World” portrayed people of color attending college and making a difference. She was a big fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — with one caveat. “I could relate to Buffy in some aspects,” she says, “but I knew that she was a white cheerleader, and I was never going to be a white cheerleader.”

Today’s young viewers can find someone to relate to on mainstream TV, pretty much regardless of how they identify.

“I see it as saying, ‘You are normal. You can do anything,’” Abad says of television’s gradual acceptance of diversity. “And if we want anything for kids, it’s that we want to instill in them the potential that they can be anyone or anything they want to be.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like