I'm a writer and blogger who's been focused on analyzing representation of LGBT and disabled folks in superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy media since 2014.
With Supergirl coming back for its second season next week, everyone is trying to predict where the series is headed next. Comments from the producers seem to imply the potential of a character we already know coming out as gay. Here, Shannen discusses just which character it might be, and comes to a startling, hopeful conclusion.
Who is CW Supergirl's Unknown Gay Character?
Earlier this summer, buzz started to drum up over the reveal that a character in one of the CW shows would be revealed as gay. The announcement first came from Andrew Kreisberg, who stated to press at this year's Television Critic Association's press tour:
“One of the characters on one of the shows is going to be exploring their sexuality and coming out. We’re very excited about that.”
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Additionally, Greg Berlanti added:
“It is a significant character. The only reason we wouldn’t [say] is we really want the audience to enjoy the character developments and not necessarily be ahead of the storyline.”
Later information added that the character would not be from Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow, and that the character was part of their series since at least last year, with Greg Berlanti stating:
“We had a character who we had discussed as a possibility last year internally, and it didn’t materialize. We didn’t get to the story. We just didn’t have enough real estate to deal with it in the way that we wanted to deal with it. So when we were planning this season, we said to the network and the studio that it was a priority for us, and everyone was cool with it.”
Consensus around the 'Net is that the character is likely to be a Supergirl character, because Supergirl is only introducing its first gay character this season in the form of Maggie Sawyer (played by Floriana Lima) this season.
But who could it be?
Berlanti stated the character is significant. I think that writes off one-or-two episode villains, and the fact that this character's story receives focus seems to limit it to the core, non-villainous cast. That cast comprises: Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers, Alex Danvers, Lucy Lane, Winn Schott, James Olsen, Hank Henshaw/J'onn J'onnz, and Cat Grant.
Let's judge the chances for the characters I see as the top three, starting with the most likely: Alex Danvers.
I say that Alex is the frontrunner for being the gay character because it would be easiest to fit that in with what we know about where Season 2 is headed, and based on Berlanti and Kreisberg's commentary.
Alex hasn't had a romantic subplot so far in the show, and keeps the one man interested in her very much at arms reach -- obviously, not wanting to date Maxwell Lord doesn't make her a lesbian, it just makes her sensible. However, Alex being gay opens her up to a potential romance arc with Maggie Sawyer, who we know is going to be interacting with the DEO over the course of the season.
I'm not saying it's an open-and-shut case, however, considering a likely candidate is also found in...
People joke a lot about Winn being gay, and when the idea of a gay character on Supergirl first floated out into public consciousness, he was an immediate candidate.
I think he has a fair shot, because Winn discovering he's into men could take him neatly out of that pesky Winn/Kara/James love triangle. Considering Kara is definitely not interested in Winn, and Winn seems to be okay with that, it would be a neat way to tie up that loose end.
Additionally, I would like to submit Winn's reactions to, and interactions with, male superheroes.
Exhibit A: Barry Allen in "World's Finest." When Winn finds out that Barry is from another universe and is a superhero, he proceeds to basically become starry-eyed. He's also very touchy with Barry, and they seem to connect pretty much immediately. It's kind of adorable, in my opinion.
Exhibit B: Clark Kent in the 'Team Up' promo. When Winn finally gets to meet Superman, we cut from a wide shot of a crowd parting as Superman walks into the DEO, and then a medium shot of Winn walking toward Kara and Clark with jaw-dropped awe on his face. He absently shakes Clark's hand, and then, voice breathy with what seems like suspect excitement, he manages to say, "I...I have a million questions." His hand comes very close to Clark's face, and he adds: "How do you shave?" with an almost stricken look on his face. My first response to the moment was "Dear God, rarely have I seen anything so gay."
Behaviourally, I feel like a bisexual Winn makes perfect sense. However, we don't have the same kind of ready-made potential romantic interest the way we would if the gay character is female. So Alex edges ahead, but only just.
Now, let's move on to my dark horse in this race:
I know what you're thinking: "Obviously Supergirl's not gay!" And I'm not saying that she is. But I am saying that she could very easily be bi. She's an alien from outer space; I'm not sure Kryptonians have the same sexuality classifications that we do, for crying out loud.
Evidence for this is admittedly limited. However, she has stated offhand, while listing her romantic rival's good qualities, ends that list with "I'd date her."
Additionally, a bisexual Kara opens up a whole host of storytelling possibilities, especially in the romantic sphere. I'm assuming Kara/James is endgame for this show, but if we know anything about television, we know that they won't be together for the whole show. After all, in Smallville, Clark and Lana were on and off for five seasons -- introducing drama to keep the romantic leads off balance is common practice in TV writing.
Call it wishful thinking, but I think she has a shot. The CW isn't afraid of bisexual female protagonists (see the admittedly flawed The 100 for proof), and DC did recently admit, via Greg Rucka, that Wonder Woman is attracted to women as well as men.
Additionally, who better to pair with Maggie Sawyer, who advocates for aliens on Earth, than an actual alien?
Finally, Kara being bi would mean a lot for bi and lesbian girls and women in the audience. If Supergirl is one of us, well, that lets us relate to her better, and see ourselves in her -- which in turn helps us see her in us, which can do wonders for one's self esteem.
No matter which character gets to explore their sexuality this season, this is going to be big. LGBT characters in genre fiction always are, because there are so few at this time, and they die more often than straight characters do.
It remains to be seen who this character will be, and I, for one, cannot wait to find out.
Follow Shannen at @_murphyleigh on Twitter for more musings on gay and disabled geekery.