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Watchmen Marks The Moment Gay People Are Treated Like Human Beings In Comics
The first real crack in the invisibility of gay people in mainstream comics arguably came with the publication of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. With only two confirmed gay characters (and one possible third), Watchmen was not overtly created as a comment on gay rights. However, it deconstructed the fascistic undertones of the super hero genre, giving particular focus to the way authoritarians tend to enforce social hierarchies rather than simply fight for justice. One of the more subtle ways Alan Moore accomplished this is with his depiction of gay characters.
In the miniseries' backstory, the character Silhouette is publicly outed as a lesbian and subsequently fired from The Minutemen, the group of costumed adventurers who inspired the vigilantes in the main story. Soon after being rejected by her former friends, she winds up murdered by a former adversary seeking revenge (and, presumably, able to find her more easily thanks to the public humiliation she'd just endured.)
Another scene has the character Hooded Justice save Silk Spectre from being raped by The Comedian. Hooded Justice delivers a severe beating to The Comedian, until the Comedian mocks him for being gay and implies he's not afraid to blackmail Hooded Justice over this information. It is later implied that The Comedian kills Hooded Justice, in part over lingering anger from this event, and in part because The Comedian simply despises him.
While these are tiny aspects of the overall story, the somewhat realistic depiction of the way the professional and personal lives of LGBT people were perpetually at risk of being ruined, as well as the clearly sympathetic, tragic portrayal, represented a major leap forward.