Why Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy Need to Come Out
Written by Kevin Dennison
It’s no secret that I am a huge, self-identified nerd and that I love my comic books. However, if there is one thing that I sincerely wish more creative teams out there understood it’s that we absolutely do need more positive representation of visible, proud, LGBT comic characters! Why? Because even in 2015, articles like this one posted on March 4th from Breaking News USA, called “DC Pushes Envelope with Harley Quinn Lesbian Scene”, continue to paint LGBTQI representation in media as some sort of spectacle and oddity.
For starters, I find it ridiculous that a flirty situation between two women is STILL considered “pushing the envelope”, rather than it being looked at like a normal thing (which it is). I also find it rather disappointing that this article was even written in the first place, especially in such a brutally dull manner so as to dampen any possibility of discussion, especially considering that the author even flat out acknowledges, “DC has hinted at Quinn’s apparent bisexuality for some time.” So… what is this then? Breaking news, everyone: Harley Quinn is still into girls and guys, like she always has been, the end?
So, let’s try to encourage discussion here instead! Are Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, as the Breaking News USA article’s title suggests, lesbians? I sure as hell don’t know. Maybe, I guess. Or maybe they’re both bisexual! Or maybe one of them is pansexual. Alternatively, and this might sound crazy, maybe Ivy is demisexual.
I mean, think about. Historically, Ivy has had a burning hate for all of humanity (with a special level of loathing for Batman, Two Face and Joker specifically) and she typically only uses her sexuality as a weapon. Save for Harley, that is. With Harley, it’s very different. Ivy clearly cares about that little red and black haired psycho more than she does about literally anyone else. While Harley is primarily the one to make advances on Ivy and initiate these playful, borderline romantic moments that we keep getting teased with over and over again, Ivy doesn’t really turn her away completely. In fact, as much as much as she may roll her eyes at Harley’s advances she also frequently flirts back or shows her affection in other ways. Though she does seem rather disinterested in sex more often than not, I think it is fair to say that Ivy isn’t completely against the possibility of it happening with Harley…
Of course, all of these are merely wild guesses because none of this has ever actually, directly been addressed in any of the comics and maybe that is part of the problem. With the exception of Batwoman (who has been badass and openly gay since 2009) and Alysia Yeoh (who recently told Batgirl that she is a transwoman), queer and trans characters in mainstream comics are pretty damn suppressed overall. They’re just side characters, hidden in cameos, who never really get the opportunity for any substantial character development. So, when people see moments like this happen it suddenly becomes way more jaw dropping and shocking than it really needs to be.
I will give credit where credit is due though because I really do like how Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have depicted these tender, playful moments between the two. However, like with all of the writers and artists that came before them I must admit that I’m pretty bummed that they too seem so hesitant about taking that one extra step to finally tackle the relationship between Harley and Ivy.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of you but as a transgender, pansexual individual myself I genuinely DO need our LGBTQI+ superheroes and villains to be out. Like, not somewhat out, but actually out. I need them embracing who they are, loud and proud. I need them showing strength and bravery in the face of great adversity. I need them to exist authentically despite what any of the big wigs in their offices at DC Comics think and despite all of those readers out there who repeat tired arguments that always start like: “I’m not homophobi/transphobic/anti-LGBT but…”
I guess what I need is for our sexually diverse and transgender, or gender nonconforming, superheroes to have a regular, normal, everyday presence in these series’ just like any heterosexual and/or cisgender character has. It’s long overdue and let’s be honest here, the track record with mainstream comics, especially from DC, for positive, non offensive LGBT representation is incredibly hit and miss. Reality is that for every Batwoman or Alysia Yeoh there is a Suzie Su (a character recently featured in Red Hood & the Outlaws who was criticized for presenting trans women as a transmisognystic caricature).
Harley and/or Ivy being out is especially important now when homophobia and transphobia is literally killing us and robbing us of basic human rights. Just look at the high rate of murder for trans women of color, as well as the consistent, discriminatory legislation from opposition to marriage equality, and the numerous high profile LGBT youth suicides being reported on these past few months.
And no, I’m not saying that two comic book characters being out is the solution to these issues. I just strongly feel that visibility in a world that fears and discriminates against anybody outside the gender and sexual orientation binary is a big deal for achieving social awareness and understanding. Though they’re comic book characters, they’re extremely well-known ones and their visibility in mainstream comic books would be a pretty big step forward toward better LGBTQI+ representation in not only in this industry, but in other forms of media as well.
So, if Harley and/or Ivy is bisexual or queer, or whatever, then PLEASE, somebody, bring them out of their closets for us! It’s time to set the innuendos aside for a moment and put the “are they or aren’t they?” trope to rest once and for all.