Not only this, but Striker reveals he was sexually abused in his youth:
This is another major change to Avengers Academy including a new base of operations, teachers leaving, new teachers, students leaving, lots of new students, a regenisis tie-in, a death of an Avenger and a major plot twist regarding Reptil. Many regard these changes as an attempt to boost the un-exciting sales estimates the series has been producing. But are these major changes a natural progression of character or just a cheap attempt to boost sales?
Undoubtedly this will bring up the age old debate about changing a previously established character's sexuality. One that even writers have commented on in the past. Many are familiar with Rob Liefeld's comments about his creation Rictor's sexuality being changed:
“… I have nothing against gays, I have gay family, nuthin’ but love here,”he wrote on his message board (registration required). “Ditto gay characters if that’s what their true origins are.
“As the guy that created, designed and wrote his first dozen appearances, Shatterstar is not gay. Sorry. Can’t wait to someday undo this. Seems totally contrived.”
However, while Striker has been with lots of women and has constantly shown flirting with other females, Gage stated quite early on in his twitter that he always knew about Striker's sexuality, including hints about his sexuality from way back in issue #5.
While gay heroes are appearing more and more frequently in comics, the coming out process is one that isn't often showcased in superhero comics. Characters either debut as gay (Batwoman) or their coming out happens off-panel (Rictor and Shatterstar). How much of Striker's internal coping and self-realization will be highlighted in "Avengers Academy"?
Gage: Hopefully, a fair amount. Whether Striker likes it or not, it's going to be an ongoing process for him. He may think it's as simple as saying, "Okay, I'm out," and that's it, but it's going to be more complicated. It's interesting that you mention how most superhero characters' coming out hasn't been tackled directly; that's one of the reasons I didn't make Striker an out gay guy from the start. We've come a long way in terms of there being positive depictions of gay youth in popular culture; what we haven't seen as much of is kids who are struggling with their sexuality, and I wanted to acknowledge that experience. Conditions today are a lot better than they've been in the past, but not every gay kid lives in New York or San Francisco -- a lot of them have to face bullying from their peers and disapproval from adults, telling them there's something wrong with them -- which has led to tragic suicides. Right now in North Carolina, which is my wife's home state and a place I love, there's a measure on an upcoming ballot to impose a state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage -- and North Carolina is one of only two Southern states (along with New Mexico) that, up to now, hasn't had one. So what I wanted to say to gay kids who may still be struggling with who they are is not just "it gets better" but "you're not alone." I wanted their experience -- in a general sense, obviously it's different for everyone -- to be reflected in what they read. That there are other kids who may be struggling with this, and you don't have to be Batwoman from the get-go -- there may be a journey to getting there.
In Striker's case, though, it's not only about being gay. His personal struggles have a lot to do with the fact that he was sexually abused as a child, by the man who served as his acting manager at the time. My wife and I wrote for "Law & Order: SVU," which led to doing a good amount of research on child sexual abuse and its effects. And quite often, whether the abuse survivor is gay or straight, they end up struggling with their sexuality in general. Some avoid or repress it, either because it's too painful to deal with or because they somehow blame themselves for what happened. When Striker began to feel he might be attracted to males, he wondered if that was who he was as a person, or if it was the influence of his (male) abuser somehow affecting him -- a thought that deeply disturbed him and made him want to reject those feelings. The process most of us go through, where we figure out what kind of people we are attracted to -- I don't mean being gay or straight, necessarily, just whether we're drawn to certain personalities or body types or whatever -- was a minefield for him. It's very painful for abuse survivors, because they can question their own sexuality and frequently blame themselves for what happened -- as Striker did, wondering if he somehow encouraged the abuser because he enjoyed the attention of a father figure, or if being gay, even before he had any awareness of his sexual orientation, somehow meant he brought it on himself. (In point of fact, most child abusers who target children of the same sex identify as straight, and have no interest in adults of the same sex.) So I also wanted to reach out to abuse survivors and say: 1) It's not your fault. That's actually one of the things abusers count on -- that the victim will blame themselves and avoid talking about it to anyone. And 2) You're not alone. Others struggle with this too.
In Striker's specific case, the journey is about being an abuse survivor as well as coming out. Now that Julie has given him the support he needs to discover his sexual orientation at his own pace, he's going to be able to focus more on the coming out process -- and being Striker, he'll probably make some colossal blunders along the way. But hey, how many of us look back at our earliest dating experiences and think, "You know what? I got that exactly right!"
While Striker is still relatively a brand new character, Julie power has been around for a few decades. Is it okay for writers to change such drastic aspects of such old characters? Arguably, Julie has basically been a child all her comic career and has only recently started to be shown to be growing into teenage hood (See The Loners), leaving these issues wide open for writers to pick up on.
What do you guys think? Are you shocked by these reveals? Do you see them as cheap writing ploys to bring in sales or as essential character developments? Do you think revealing previously established characters as Lesbian, Gay or Bi is wrong or just a realistic representation of today?
In my opinion I think Julie puts it across very well:
"Everyone's all 'pick a side'... When I have feelings for a person, it's for that person. Not their gender. Can't you just like someone without it being a political statement?"
Right on sista.