This article is okay, but I bought the book anyway, because I wrote 60 pages (that I can’t find) about this same topic. A lot of my analysis papers were queer readings of traditionally straight characters.
I think this article is just okay, but I will reserve my final verdict for when I read the book. Because I think if I had the time, I could write a whole book on sexuality and Batman.
My final senior paper was a queer reading of Batman, which is something I definitely believe is a central aspect of this character, and perhaps superheroes in general. I would like to see more academic work studying the politics of sexuality as they pertain to superheroes.
There is a tension in comics between queer culture/sexual minorities and heteronormativity that has building for years. I think you can certainly measure that in the motivations of the heroes, for we create gods in our image. Are they born out of a culture of acceptance and tolerance? Or are they paranoid, punch first-talk later, sadists and bigots? You can see this in heroes, and you can also see this in whoever is the “Batman of the era.” Which means Batman is comic books’ first major ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-gay main character. Writers either have him in the closet or out. He is either a cruel agent of establishment masculinity and heteronormativity OR he is an individualist with an alternative perspective of family, society, and justice.
I could write a much longer schpiel, but homeboy’s gotta make money. Basically, I think that queerness is at the heart of most superheroes with a secret identity — who must find a way to be themselves and also grapple with complex and occasionally contrasting notions of identity. A certain kind of double consciousness, that many folks employ to survive in a world that only deems you valuable if you are cis, white, male, and/or hetero. [Hell, you don’t always have to be a sexual minority to deal with the world this way–as a straight black male who openly acknowledges his emotions & politics (despite how uncomfortable it make people when he is angry) I get this.] Wear a mask. Work a regular job. Keep your head down. Say somethings you don’t believe to make folks believe that you are “one of them.” Do your real work/live your life at night.
I think when interpreting Batman, this subtext and identity grappling HAS to be part of the interpretation.
(I know this was a nonsense rant, but ya boy is at work.)