Writing in 2006 in RelevantMagazine.com about “X-Men: The Last Stand,” ex-gay author Chad Thompson noted, “I saw the movie and discovered that almost every scene in it somehow parallels the struggle to integrate gay and lesbian people into society.”
He was not exaggerating when he said, “almost every scene.” Another viewer of X-Men 3 commented to me, “As I watched the film, the connections and similarities were startling. You could have made the X-Men gay and the script would have worked perfectly.”
Thompson explains, “In a world where some are born ‘normal’ and others are born with genetic mutations that give them superpowers, those without the mutations decide to formulate a serum that can normalize the mutants. Most of the mutants argue that they don’t need a cure, asserting that their mutations are innate to their identities, but still some who aren’t happy with their mutations embrace the chance to change.”
In X-Men: First Class, Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy concocts a serum that will hide his mutation (seen in his feet) without removing his powers, only to discover that the serum actually accelerates his mutation, turning him into a powerful beast. In other words, therapy designed to turn a homosexual into a heterosexual will not work. Instead, it will result in a stronger homosexual identity.
In light of the whole theme of X-Men: The Last Stand, this message is certainly intended.
In perhaps the movie’s most obvious example of “mutant as a stand-in for gay,” when Hank McCoy is first revealed to be a mutant, he is questioned by his coworkers as to why he hadn’t reveal his true identity before. He replies, “You didn’t ask, I didn’t tell.” Gays in the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell couldn’t have said it better.
Alyssa Rosenberg, writing on the ThinkProgress.org website, called X-Men First Class “a great gay rights metaphor,” noting that already in X2, “Iceman’s visit to his parents took the form of a coming-out sequence, complete with confusion and rejection by a sibling. In First Class, those comparisons are even more explicit.”
Explicit is hardly an overstatement, as the mutants proclaim themselves to be out and proud towards the end of the flick. It appears that subtlety is no longer needed.
But this should come as no surprise. After all, Elizabeth Taylor famously said, “If it weren’t for gays, honey, there wouldn’t be a Hollywood.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.