10 LGBTQ people of color comic characters

The Backstagers, Lumberjanes, and Koi Boi

On the heels of my post about LGBTQ people of color animated cartoon characters, here’s a look at 10 LGBTQ people of color comic characters. While a number are from DC and Marvel superhero comics, others are from webcomics, graphic novels, and smaller publishers.

Again, these are characters that first appeared in comics, not in animation. (Though one character barely makes the cut-off on a technicality.)

Jory (“The Backstagers”)

The Backstagers” is a graphic novel (and prose novel) series created by writer James Tynion IV and artist Rian Sygh. The Boom! Studios published series is about the stage hands at an all-boys’ high school, who deal with supernatural goings-on backstage. (The series has a few similarities to “Lumberjanes.”)

Jory is an African American new student at the aforementioned high school, and soon finds friendly faces (and a boyfriend) after joining the drama club’s “backstagers.” Jory’s interest in drawing come into play over the series’ run, especially in the prose novel spin-offs.

Jackson Hyde / Aqualad / Aquaman (DC Comics)

"Aquaman: The Becoming" #1
“Aquaman: The Becoming” #1 (November 2021). Art by David Talaski. (DC Comics)

Jackson Hyde, also known by his Atlantean name “Kaldur’ahm,” first appeared in “Brightest Day” #4 (August 2010), written by While he was created by Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti and Phil Bourassa for the “Young Justice” TV series, Jackson first appeared several months earlier in the comics (thus barely qualifying him for this list).

Jackson is the son of Aquaman’s archenemy, Black Manta, and an Atlantean woman (specifically, someone from Mera’s home realm of Xebel). Raised by adoptive human parents, Jackson eventually learns of his birth parents and powers, and becomes a superhero. Initially going by “Aqualad,” he eventually renames himself “Aquaman.”

Jackson’s powers are similar to those of Mera: enhanced strength, durability, senses, as well as the ability to breathe underwater and generate “hard water” constructs. Jackson also possesses some electrical powers, similar to electric eels (yes, another Black hero with electrical powers).

Jackson’s sexuality becomes a focus in the non-canonical young adult graphic novel “You Brought Me the Ocean.”

Anissa Pierce / Thunder (DC Comics)

Anissa Pierce, also known as the superhero Thunder, first appeared in “Outsiders” (volume 3) #1 (August 2003). She was created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney.

The daughter of Jefferson Pierce, Anissa is the older of the two Pierce siblings. Anissa’s younger sister, Jennifer, is the superhero “Lightning.” (One guess what Jennifer’s powers are.) Anissa possesses the ability to increase her body’s density, providing her with superhuman strength, invulnerability, and the ability to create shock waves by stomping the ground.

As a member of the superhero team the Outsiders, Anissa meets and starts dating her fellow teammate, Grace Choi.

Anissa’s appeared in spin-off media, including the “Black Lightning” TV show on The CW.

Clarice Clifford (“Dykes to Watch Out For”)

Alison Bechdel’s long-running comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” has several LGBTQ people of color characters, but I’ll just focus on Clarice here.

An environmental lawyer, Clarice was once in a relationship with the strip’s main character, Mo, before becoming involved with Toni Ortiz, a CPA. Over the course of the strip, Clarice and Toni have had a commitment ceremony, a civil union in Vermont, and an actual marriage (when it was briefly legalized locally; this was before same-sex marriage was legalized across the US in 2015). Ironically, the two ended up splitting up. Clarice and Toni have one son, Raffi.

Goldie Vance (“Goldie Vance”)

Goldie Vance vol. 2
“Goldie Vance,” vol. 2 TPB. Art by Brittney Williams. (Boom! Studios)

Goldie Vance” is a graphic novel series created by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams. It’s set in an alternate version of early 1960s Florida, one where racism and homophobia aren’t present. The lead character Goldie lives at a resort hotel with her father, who’s the hotel’s manager. Goldie’s life goal is to become a detective, and sets about solving mysteries at the hotel and around her town.

Other characters in the series include Diana, a fellow teen who works at a record store, and eventually becomes Goldie’s girlfriend.

Lance Powers (“Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast”)

Lance is the most prominent African American character in “Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast,” a webcomic by Greg Fox. According to the strip’s character bios, Lance is an ad executive from Los Angeles. Moving to Long Island, New York for a job, Lance settles into the titular bed and breakfast. Despite its name, the B&B also serves as a boarding house, as it’s the home of multiple long-term residents.

Lance comes off as fairly high-brow in terms of interests, though still makes time for his friends at the B&B. He seems to clash the most with fellow B&B resident Price, a wealthy egotistical snob.

Jo (“Lumberjanes”)

The long-running Boom! Studios comic “Lumberjanes” (created by editor Shannon Watters, writers Grace Ellis and ND Stevenson, and artist Gus Allen) is about a group of campers at a girls summer camp, where strange supernatural events happen. (Think an LGBTQ version of Disney’s “Gravity Falls.”) One of the main campers is Jo, a level-headed trans girl who has STEM-related interests, and serves as the “techie” of the gang.

Jo is raised by two Dads, who appear during a “Parents’ Day” story. One of the series’ artists, Kat Leyh, states Jo is Navajo.

America Chavez (Marvel)

America #1 variant cover
“America” (vol. 1) #1 variant. Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson. (Marvel)

America Chavez, also known as Miss America and Ms. America, first appeared in “Vengeance” #1 (September 2011), and was created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta.

Initially, America’s origin was that she was raised by her mothers in another dimension, and eventually left after said dimension was destroyed by a catastrophe. A later retcon (and the current official backstory) states America’s mothers were actually ordinary Earth scientists trying to cure a genetic disease held by America (and her sister). The “dimension” was actually an island where the scientists’ research facility was located; said island and facility were owned by a billionaire who turned out to be evil. Events led to America’s parents dying at the hands of said billionaire; America escaped, but apparently with distorted memories (i.e., the original origin) of what happened. Her powers stem from said facility’s experiments.

America’s powers include superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and flight. However, her most famous power is the ability to create star-shaped dimensional gateways, which she uses to travel anywhere across the Marvel multiverse.

The comics state America self-identifies as a lesbian. Her birthday, fittingly, is on July 4.

Outside of comics, America’s appeared in some other media. Her most prominent media appearance (as of this writing) is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” which uses her original (and less convoluted) “from another dimension” backstory.

Ken Shiga / Koi Boi (Marvel)

Ken Shiga, also known as the superhero Koi Boi, first appeared in “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” (vol. 1) #2 (February 2015), and was created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

Ken’s a second-year computer science student and classmate of Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green. Both students attend New York City’s fictional Empire State University, famously the alma mater of Peter Parker.

As a superhero, Koi Boi has the Aquaman-like ability to communicate with fish. He’s a “human mutate,” Marvel’s lingo for someone that receives their powers from an external source (radiation, spider bites, etc.) versus mutants (those born with their abilities). Ken’s usually shown taking his crime-fighting quite seriously, though in a Silver Age-like fashion.

In “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” (vol. 2) #9 (August 2016), Ken’s seen wearing a chest binder. Artist Erica Henderson later confirmed on Twitter that Ken’s a transgender man. Ken being trans is also briefly mentioned in the 2022 “Squirrel Girl” podcast; Ken is voiced by out trans actor Leo Sheng.

Ian Soo (Marvel)

Ian Soo first appeared in “Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!” #1 (February 2016), and was created by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams.

Ian is an Inhuman with telekinetic powers. Shortly after gaining his powers, Ian is thrown out of his apartment by his now-ex-girlfriend. Desperate for funds, Ian decides to try becoming a supervillain and commit a robbery, calling himself “Telekinian,” a name even he later admits is lousy. Fortunately, Patsy (as Hellcat) shows up to stop Ian. After hearing Ian’s story and defusing things, Patsy decides to take in Ian as her new roommate, as well as steering him away from crime.

Patsy soon introduces Ian to her old friend Tom Hale, who runs “Burly Books,” an LGBTQ bookstore. Ian soon gets a job at Burly Books, finding his telekinetic abilities useful for moving heavy boxes. Ian and Tom also start dating each other.

Ian’s also interested in theater, including the play “Wicked.”

Image, from left to right: “The Backstagers and the Theater of the Ancients”; art by Rian Sygh (Amulet Books) / “Lumberjanes” #38; art by Kat Leyh (Boom! Studios) / Koi Boi; art by Derek Charm (Marvel)

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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