In a long interview dense with discussion of creative intention and identity representation in media, past and current Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka confirmed to Comicosity’s Matt Santori-Griffith that in his ongoing run, Diana of Themyscira is queer.
After asking whether Wonder Woman, as Rucka and artist Nicola Scott have presented her in their Year One story arc was queer, Santori-Griffith clarified, "For the purposes of this conversation, I would define 'queer' as involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender."
"Then, yes," answered Rucka, simply.
Wonder Woman: Year One is a long gestating passion project between Rucka and Scott, a retelling and recodification of the character’s origin story for the modern reader that has been running in alternating issues of Wonder Woman since June. While the comic has not plainly expounded on the sexual or romantic lives of Diana or her sister Amazons, it has alluded to them.
Rucka explained to Comicosity that the existence of romance and intimacy — and all that entails — within Amazonian society is obvious, as is Diana’s participation in that part of her culture. But a society exclusively composed of one gender would have very different ways of thinking about and labeling its own behavior.
"When you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due," Rucka said, "the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise... But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist.
"Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes."
Rucka and Scott’s Diana is not the first canonically gay or queer Amazon in the core DC Universe. For example, Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta has often been paired with her general Philippus. And, in her 2008-10 run on the title, Gail Simone wrote a Diana who introduced her male lover to a traditional Amazonian courting ritual, making clear as she did so that, yes, Amazons did use this ritual even when there were no men around.
But fans and readers have been waiting patiently for years for Wonder Woman herself to be explicitly confirmed as queer, lesbian or bisexual alongside her fellow Amazons. Even from a desire for our media to better model the diversity of humanity, there are plenty of simple, logical narrative reasons for Wonder Woman to be queer. Rucka himself mentions one explicitly in the interview. If Diana is only attracted to men, it is very easy to read her origin story — in which she leaves Themyscira forever in order to help Steve Trevor — as one motivated by romantic desire.
"I believe that diminishes her heroism," he told Comicosity, "She doesn’t leave because of Steve. She leaves because she wants to see the world and somebody must go and do this thing. And she has resolved it must be her to make this sacrifice."
Still, Diana’s sexuality as established in Wonder Woman: Year One is still subtle enough that Rucka’s interview is the first undeniable, inarguable proof of he and Scott’s intention. Rucka admitted surprise that the first issue of the arc, Wonder Woman #2, didn’t read as confirmation, and the issue in question does have some strong indications. But in the history of the depiction of women who love women in mass media, queer subtext is a tricky idea.
For example, stories about love between two women have a history of being forced to be presented only subtextually, for fear of losing audience or advertisers. There is also a history within the queer community of seeking out and enjoying works with unintentional queer subtext because of a severe lack of works with intentional queer subtext. And then there’s how the dismissal of "queer subtext" between actual queer women is common enough to have its own satircal Buzzfeed list about it.
And yet there is also a legitimate demand for stories about queer relationships with greater nuance than the "very special episode," and series about queer characters where their sexual identity is not their defining narrative quality. This creates a tension: between allowing LGBT characters to star in stories where their LGBT-ness is as minimal — as minimal as heterosexuality is in any story about a heterosexual character that isn't a romance — and making sure that their LGBT identity is established gracefully and firmly enough that cannot be ignored or denied. Threading that needle is a challenge for any writer. But not a greater challenge than, for example, updating any of DC Comics’ 75-year-old characters for the modern reader.
How Rucka’s interview stacks up against the prospect of undeniable textual confirmation within the Wonder Woman comic itself is ultimately up to the individual reader — but two exciting things are still true either way. For one, Wonder Woman: Year One is not over. And for another, Wonder Woman, one third of DC Comics’ leading trio of superheroes and the world’s most famous female superhero, is a queer character.
Your move, Wonder Woman movie.