Robert Louis “Bobby” Drake, Iceman, has been declared to be gay. In the All-New X-Men #40, a time-displaced teenage version of Bobby Drake is revealed to be gay, while the current (older), Iceman is believed to be straight.
The teen Bobby was outed by the teen Jean Grey and never actually admitted to it on the issue. When someone accuses a gay person (especially when they’re still in the closet), most homosexual men go on the defensive and actively lie or deny the fact. There’s something about someone telling a secret that isn’t theirs to say that terrifies us all. This is something that happens every day and that most gays would be horrified it happened to them, especially at a young age.
Brian Michael Bendis recently told The Huffington Post:
“There are thousands, if not millions, of stories of people who, for many different reasons, felt the need to hide their sexuality,” he said. “The X-Men, with the conceit of time travel, give us a fascinating platform in which to examine such personal journeys. This is just the first little chapter of a much larger story that will be told.”
Some have said this is just another writer pulling out the “gay” card but many other writers before him like Peter Gillis, and Scott Lobdell could very well have been involved in creating the closeted X-Man. Let’s go back and analyze the current universe’s Iceman, and how he may, in fact, be gay.
Bobby’s closest friends while as an X-Man were Angel, Cannonball and Rogue (this will be crucial later). He has a little brother/sister relationship with Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey. Bobby is very well liked by his friends and teammates, but many have noted that he is very moody, and his insecurities tend to push them away.
Iceman’s romantic relationships all seem to be short lived or end due to his personal issues. In the Defenders #132, writer Peter Gillis played with Iceman’s sexuality and was probably the first to hint at his homosexuality.
Bobby ends up being attracted to Cloud, a nebula that takes human form. Cloud has feelings for her female teammate, Moondragon and platonic feelings towards Iceman. Because both Cloud and Moondragon are women, Cloud decides to solve this problem by transforming into a he. As Cloud is figuring out his/her sexual gender, Bobby has a hard time coping with Cloud’s male form and becomes extremely uncomfortable while Cloud’s body is that gender. Eventually, the two end up becoming just friends.
How is this significant to Iceman’s sexuality, wasn’t he interested in the female version of Cloud? Well, a majority of gay men as they’re coming into their sexuality go through phases of denial. Society tells us that we should be attracted to the opposite sex. And while most people would be a bit confused when a potential partner completely switches up the game and becomes the same sex, denial and rejection of homosexual tendencies and any hints at it are things many closeted gays try to do.
Iceman appears to get over this and begins to date Opal. They go steady for a few years, but then, writer Scott Lobdell starts to poke and prod at Bobby’s sexuality again in 1993’s Uncanny X-Men #301.
Opal confronts Iceman about how he isn’t committed to the relationship and ends up breaking up with him. She argues with Iceman and tell him he has some “unsettling stuff” in his head. Northstar, a popularized gay character in the Marvel universe, had an unrequited crush on Iceman, perhaps the gaydar works in the mutant world as well.
Later on in Uncanny X-Men #311, Emma Frost (The White Queen), who had been in a coma switches bodies with Iceman. While in control of Bobby Drakes abilities she, was able to do feats that Iceman couldn’t even hold a feather to. She could turn his whole body into ice and become nearly invincible. When their bodies were switched back, Bobby confronts her about how she was able to use his body better than he ever could, she points out how he knows that the real reason it. In X-Men #331, the White Queen makes another pokes at Iceman, saying that he should be an interior decorator.
In the Uncanny X-Men issue #319 which came out back in the 90s, over twenty years before this sudden reveal of the younger Iceman’s sexuality. Bobby Drake brings Rogue to have dinner with his parents. The strange thing about this was that neither characters had any previous interest in one another in a sexual way before, which immediately prompted a red flag. Why did he suddenly need to bring a girl over to his parents house?
The story focuses on Bobby’s upbringing with a bigoted father. Bobby had shown several attempts to appease his dad. This need to fit the mold despite his real feelings (ring any homosexual bells?) and despite he best efforts, he never gets his father’s approval.
Throughout the dinner, Bobby’s dad makes several discriminatory remarks about Asians and mutants, which eventually leads Bobby’s outburst. He uses his powers in a fit of rage and storms out of the dinner.
So, why would Iceman, choose Rogue to be his date when he had several other suitors on his team better suited for the job? Couldn’t he have brought Jean Grey or Psylocke instead? Both their powers could come in handy for them having a private telepathic dialogue between Bobby and one another. Why didn’t he choose Storm, a powerful, independent woman who would not stand for any of Bobby’s ignorant father?
I don’t know… maybe because her natural mutant ability doesn’t allow them to be in physical contact? Was this a personal test for Bobby to see if he could live the type of life his father wanted?
Whatever the case may be, the end of the issue Bobby created an elaborate, Asgard-esque city of ice. He asks for Rogue’s support and that’s the storyline moves onto other characters.
During Astonishing X-Men #62, writer Marjorie Liu takes a psychologically damaged Iceman to face some of his inner demons. After returning from the alternate universe of Age of Apocalypse, Bobby is suffering from the pain and trauma of nearly killing everyone on earth. Granted he was being mind-controlled by a fragment of Apocalypse, he still needed to deal with the fact that he did that.
He faces his ex-girlfriends and former lovers like Shadowcat, Polaris and even Mystique. Now Mystique and Bobby have a very short relationship but there’s something about the these two polar opposites that brings them together. They both refuse to show their vulnerable side. They both hide behind masks. Mystique can shapeshift to take on whatever form she wants and Iceman hides an icy mask. Both characters create walls and barriers to keep friends and loved ones at arms length. But together, they brought something out of each other that they never told anyone else. “I don’t know what I bring to the X-Men. I’m not sure who I’m meant to be.” Of course, Mystique uses this to her advantage and she betrays Iceman’s trust. Raven has more than a few chances to kill Bobby, but she doesn’t. She wants to push Bobby Drake to his full potential.
What does that mean? I feel that she was getting him to stop being who everyone else wanted him to be and let go. Maybe get him to admit he never really wanted to be with a woman. Maybe I’m speculating too much. But if Mystique is true to her word, that one day Bobby will fall for her again, she just might be a man.