And this is throwback, retrograde, oh-so-’80s being-gay-is-something-that-happens-in-prison frat house humor. And this is the first presentation of a same-sex relationship or anything resembling a gay character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe across eight movies, five one-shots, and fifteen episodes of television. And that is the part that burns.
As a gay man watching this, let me tell you how I respond. I try to laugh. Why do I try to laugh? Because that is the good, obedient, go-along-to-get-along thing to do. My identity is being presented up there on the screen as something that should make the audience laugh, and I am conditioned to think that I should find this funny and laugh along and not cause a scene — even though I am watching this movie on my own and there is no-one here to cause a scene for.
We are so used to being clowns for the majority audience that I feel like I’m letting people down if I don’t laugh. I feel like I’m inconveniencing straight people if I say, “Please sir, can I not be the punchline?” Do you know how painful that is? How shameful it is? How it makes me want to cry that I would want to laugh at being dehumanised rather than stand up and protest, because I’ve been led to think that protesting makes me a bad person? Do you know how it stings to feel conditioned to want to betray oneself like that?
Some of you surely do. Which begs the question: Why is our entertainment making us feel like this?
And it turns out I can’t laugh. Not today. Not any more. Because I am not a clown. And I want better from Marvel Studios than this.