X Men gay wedding
Thursday 24th May
The New York-based publisher said Canadian character Jean-Paul Beaubier would marry his lover Kyle Jinadu in the pages of Astonishing X-Men No 51. The issue is due out on 20th June.
Northstar revealed he was gay in the pages of Alpha Flight No. 106 in 1992, one of Marvel Entertainment's first characters to do so. Ten years later, in 2002, Apollo and the Midnighter were married in the pages of The Authority, published by WildStorm, which is owned by DC. Since then, numerous comic book heroes and villains have been written as gay, lesbian or transgender.
These include DC Comics' Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, and the characters Hulkling and Wiccan in the pages of Young Avengers. Comics, as a medium, have embraced gay, lesbian and transgender characters, and comic strips have done likewise. This month, cartoonist Tom Batiuk is writing about a gay couple trying to attend their high school prom in Funky Winkerbean, a move that has divided the fictional community.
"As I sit in on the classes at my old high school, I see how the younger generation's attitude toward gays is more open and accepting than that of their predecessors," Batiuk said.
For Marvel, the upcoming wedding is a way to further embed same-sex issues in its contemporary universe.
"Whenever you tell a story that touches upon an issue people are passionate about, you open yourself up to controversy and some very heated comments," said Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso.
"But as long as we continue to tell good stories, with nuanced characters from different walks of life, we feel that we're making our comics accessible to the widest possible audience."
President Barack Obama recently came out in support of gay marriage, but Marvel's views evolved a while ago. Alonso said the writers started thinking about such a storyline after New York legalised same-sex marriage last June. "Most of our characters reside in New York, and our stories always work best when we reconcile them against the real world, so it raised some questions," he explained.
Gaga kisses Marge
Wednesday 23rd May
US pop-star and gay-rights campaigner Lady Gaga has shared an on-screen kiss with Marge Simpson, in the latest episode of the longest running cartoon-sitcom on television.
The singer appeared as the most theatrical version of herself in the episode entitled ‘Lisa Goes Gaga,’ where she attempts to instil self-love in a dejected Lisa, voted as the least popular person in school.
When Marge bewails her inability to help Lisa, the cartoon version of Lady Gaga says, hesitantly, ‘Maybe this will help,’ and shares a passionate kiss with Lisa’s mum. The implication is that Marge feels excited by the kiss.
Neither Lady Gaga nor the Simpsons have been shy of their support for gay rights. Lady Gaga has declared that she is bisexual, and has claimed that it was men who seem most intimidated by it. The Simpsons have aired several pro-gay episodes, including one, ‘There’s Something About Marrying,’ where Springfield legalises equal marriage. The latter episode came with a disclaimer and a viewer discretion from Fox saying it contained discussion about ‘same-sex relationships.’
One character, Smithers, has long been hinted to be in love with his boss, Mr Burns, the closest thing to a villain in the series. It also recently outed a seemingly macho-character, DuffMan, as being in a gay relationship.
The Gaga-based episode also featured the premiere of a song dedicated to her fans, called ‘Little Monsters.’
Free IVF On NHS
Tuesday 22nd May
Same-sex couples would be allowed artificial insemination, even if they don't have a diagnosed fertility problem, according to draft guidelines from an NHS watchdog.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says couples who do not become pregnant after six attempts with donor semen should be referred for further investigations and IVF.
Gay men could take along a surrogate mother, who would carry the baby for them.
It will be the first time that same-sex couples have been allowed NHS fertility treatment.
The recommendations are included in updated guidelines to NHS fertility provision that NICE is currently consulting on.
The guidelines also increase the upper age for IVF from 39 to 42.
People with infectious diseases such as HIV and those with a physical disability that prevents them from having sex would also be eligible for treatment.
But religious groups have condemned the inclusion of homosexual couples in the guidelines.
Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told Sky News: "The NHS does not have enough money to go round.
"It's one thing to treat people with genuine fertility problems. But just because someone's sexual persuasion does not allow them to have children does not mean we have to kowtow to political correctness."
Professor David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, said: "NICE is requiring the NHS to provide a treatment not for a medical problem but for a personal choice."
But a spokeswoman for NICE said gay and lesbian couples may not know they are infertile.
"We need to take into account equality legislation," she said.
Ruth Hunt of campaign group Stonewall said: "Despite vital legal protections secured by Stonewall for same-sex couples who wish to become parents, many tell us they find it hard to access treatment either because of varying policies across primary care trusts or outright discrimination.
"Stonewall will continue to work closely with NICE and the NHS to make sure that lesbian and bisexual women are fairly treated."