How X-Men is an Allegory for the LGBTQ + Experience

The X mans are some of Marvel’s greatest superheroes. While fans enjoy the X-Men’s cosmic adventures and the wide variety of their superpowers, the X-Men are also culturally important for another reason: they inherently represent the outsider. In the Marvel universe, the X-Men are a team of mutants who fight to bring about peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans. The mutants are born into a world they fear and hate, which is avoided by society simply because they were born with superhuman abilities. Despite being human in every way, apart from carrying the X gene, mutants are constantly being pushed out and threatened by the rest of society.


Real events, such as the civil rights movement, helped inspire the comic book stories of the X-Men. The X-Men also became a strong allegory for the LGBTQ + experience. Distinguishes itself from ordinary superhero food, very X mans fans resonate with the comics, series, games and movies‘reflection of real social issues, especially fanaticism and prejudice. While the fans may not be literal mutants with superpowers, they join many of the same battles and challenges as the X-Men. Here’s how X mans is an allegory for the LGBTQ + experience.

Related: Top Marvel Exec believes the world is ready for a gay superhero in the MCU

Mutant Powers Manifest during Puberty

20th Century Fox

In the X mans franchise, mutants discover their abilities during puberty and during periods of increased emotional stress. Just like members of the LGBTQ + community, mutants discover key aspects of themselves as they grow up. Mutant forces manifest during puberty, the same time that many LGBTQ + individuals begin to understand more about their sexuality and gender identity.

Both the mutants and LGBTQ + community are not in line with the traditional heteronormative structures of society. They are both minority groups that many people do not understand and accept. The X-Men expose their powers as they learn from themselves rather than being something they acquire. This is in contrast to other Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man who receive his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Therefore, the X-Men’s abilities are used as storytelling devices that explore themes of self-discovery and self-acceptance, themes that are directly related to LGBTQ + children’s experience.

The X genes do not know any race or gender

20th Century Fox

Mutants can come from anywhere. There are mutants around the world from all walks of life. All mutants are born with the X gene, something that is not linked to any particular race or gender. This means that anyone in the Marvel universe could possibly be a mutant. Many mutants in the X mans universe is in fact born of parents who other than them are not mutants. Similarly, in real life, parents who are straight and cisgender may have children who are not one of these things.

On top of that, Charles Xavier’s X-Men unites people under one banner. While the X-Mansion is located in New York, mutants come from all over the world to the X-Mansion. It includes the legendary Marvel Superhero Storm, Ororo Munroe, a woman from Egypt. The X-Men team list also includes Piotr Rasputin of Russia, better known as the mighty Colossus. Regardless of their racial background or gender, mutants all share something in common; they all carry the X-No. The LGBTQ + community, like the X-Men, is also a global community made up of many diverse individuals.

Parallels between the hereditary virus and the AIDS epidemic

Obtained via Tom’s Guide

Marvel launches a narrative device in their comics with the Legacy virus during the 90s, with the Legacy virus being a direct parallel to the AIDS epidemic. Both the Legacy virus and HIV / AIDS attack healthy cells and mainly affect a specific minority group. In the comics, the Legacy Virus has killed hundreds of mutants, including Colossus’ sister Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik). By contracting the Legacy virus, mutants have been shown to experience many of the same symptoms as HIV. These included skin lesions, fever and fatigue. In severe cases, contracting the virus resulted in death. Since the Legacy virus mainly infected mutants, the people equated mutants with the dangerous virus – in the same vein as straight people in the real world mistakenly thought of HIV / AIDS as a disease exclusively for gay men – and thus’ created an atmosphere of tension and aggravated fear.

In Ramzi Fawaz’s study The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (2016), Fawaz describes the Legacy virus as “a fictitious mutant disease similar to the AIDS virus that unravels the genetic sequence of its host, and degenerates its body and its forces into death.” Fawaz refers to the virus as “not merely a disease, but a powerful material expression of the mutant race’s ugly legacy: a legacy of xenophobia and violence.” As the virus predominantly affects a minority group and due to the prejudice against that group, it becomes more difficult to develop a cure. People tend to blow issues away more easily if it does not directly affect them. The parallels between the fictitious Legacy virus and the real AIDS epidemic are very clear. The X mans comics of the 90s showed how the real issues of his time influenced the era of superhero fiction.

Related: Marvel Comics Launches LGBTQ + Captain America for Pride Month

Self-acceptance in the face of hatred

20th Century Studios, Marvel

Social division, inequality and fear unfortunately remain very much a part of modern society. In both the real world and the Marvel universe, people fear and hate what they do not understand. This intolerance causes many parts of themselves to hide from the rest of the world. Mystique hides its natural shape in several of the X mans films. If she does not, many run in fear when they see a blue-skinned “freak”.

In X2, in what is perhaps the clearest analogy with the franchise’s underlying LGBTQ + themes, Bobby’s parents refer to Bobby as a mutant as a “problem”. Bobby’s mother asks him; “Have you tried not to be a mutant?” The line clearly illustrates her lack of understanding about Bobby’s experience, as a mutant is not something one chooses to become. What’s more, it echoes the homophobic sentiment that one’s peculiarity is a matter of choice and that one, in an attempt to live a “more correct lifestyle”, simply cannot be LGBTQ +.

The fact remains: it is something they are born as and are innate part of their identity. Neither Bobby’s father nor brother responds positively when he hears that Bobby is a mutant. In the real world, deciding to come out on top requires a lot of courage. Eventually Bobby does not find a home with his biological family, but he does find a home and a family in the X-Men. In addition, the year of 2015 sees the Brand new X-Men comics reveal Iceman as gay in issue # 40.

Some mutants choose to hide that they are a mutant. Others publicly embrace that aspect of themselves. While the Marvel universe is not the most welcoming towards mutants, Raven Darkholme (Mystique) chooses to accept herself and declares that she is “mutant and proud”. In the real world, allies and allies of the LGBTQ + community are waving the rainbow flag. June is pride month, a time when people celebrate the freedom to be themselves.

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