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Why Marvel celebrating LGBTQIA+ "Allies" for Pride Month isn't a surprise

In fact, it probably just started - like so many things in comics - as a sales tactic

Pride tshirts featuring Marvel and Avengers logos
Image credit: Marvel

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Remember those years (did they ever stop?) when Wolverine showed up on virtually every cover of a Marvel comic, whether or not he showed up in the pages of said comic? A similar motive may be behind Marvel's 'Pride Allies' variant covers, or at least I think so. I can just imagine someone who makes decisions at a big company saying, "Who would want to buy a cover featuring just Northstar or Iceman? Why not find a way to slap Captain America and Spider-Man on the covers? Call them... Ally covers."

Or, the whole thing could have been on the inverse, where someone, from a good place, thought it might be cool to give queer artists a crack at characters they might not usually get hired to draw (though that's a problem in itself, isn't it?).

Pride Allies cover
Image credit: Davi Go (Marvel Comics)

Either way, this poorly made decision to highlight "allies" during the month of Pride has already begun to backfire on the comics internet. And whether the idea for the line came from a good place or not (I can honestly imagine a group of people thinking this was a good/affirming idea), it highlights an ever-present danger when it comes to narratives surrounding the struggles of the marginalized - the privileged distancing themselves from the actual struggle.

Why centering Allies on Pride Month is a problem

We see this with the 'White Savior' narrative, but the White Savior isn't where it stops and starts. Stories supposedly about struggles for justice focusing on those who are least impacted by the issues coming in to 'help' not only prioritizes a specific sort of activisim, but it also helps distance those in power from empathizing with those actually caught in the struggle.

In the White Savior (or in this case, the Ally) story, it's the White Savior you're meant to relate to. And in this pattern, a dangerous precedent is set. The Savior is the Hero, and the persecuted is the Other, meant to be saved. When you relate to the Hero as opposed to the Other, you start to believe that you couldn't be persecuted too, that you're different in some special way to those persecuted.

The fact that these variant covers are called 'Allies' variants signals this divide clearly. I don't think there would be a problem to have Daredevil on a Pride cover, but the fact that Marvel is highlighting 'Allies' in the title and making the divide so clear, (Oh no, it's not that Daredevil's queer, he's just an Ally) is the problem. It takes that attention that should be placed on queer stories and instead places it at the dynamic between the 'ally' and the queer hero, focusing the celebration on the ally and allyship, instead of the people that Pride Month is meant to celebrate.

Is this the best we can expect?

It's easy to say that, at the very least, this line is a betrayal to the spirit of Pride Month. But when compared to what DC Comics is doing on the other side of the pond with their Pride Anthology, Marvel Comics' attempts at Pride Month celebration looks behind the times and naive, and it also reflects (badly) their regular portrayal of their queer characters. The fact that practically none of the queer characters being spotlighted in June currently have their own series echoes this issue.

It has recently become a common refrain to say that you should support and celebrate queer people all year round, not only in June. But perhaps some people need to be reminded that if you are celebrating queer people in June, you should actually celebrate them, not their straight friends.

Marvel celebrates Pride Month 2024 by focusing on LGBTQIA+ characters & straight allies.

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About the Author
Tiffany Babb avatar

Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.