I didn’t spend much of my childhood watching super hero cartoons, and I wasn’t a comic book reader, other than when we visited my Grandads sister, whose son had a box full of Archie comics. Thanks to my sons however, I am now well versed in all things super hero. I know real names, side kicks, back stories, powers, enemies … the lot.
I very quickly figured out who my favourites were. The X-Men. Of course, you gotta like Wolverine’s willingness to fight for justice, even with all his emotional brokenness and you gotta feel sympathy for Rogue who’s just a young girl who wants to be normal and experience normal things, and anyone with any decency can appreciate Charles Xaviers outreach efforts and desire to be peaceful but, personally I really relate to Magneto. Techniclly, he’s the “bad guy”, but in terms of ideology, I’m with him.
“They wish to cure us. But I say to you we are the cure! The cure for that infirm, imperfect condition called “Homo sapiens!”
Magneto, or Erik if you’re cool with him, makes no apologies for his Mutation. He revels in it; Celebrates it; And has no tolerance for those who would look for ways to control mutants or worse, make them extinct.
His methods may not be on the up and up, but think about how many people who are different, live their ENTIRE lives feeling the pain brought on by other peoples fear? Think about how many children are told that yes they are loved, but can they just tone themselves down a bit. Be less obvious. Blend in.
So much of autism therapy is aimed at stomping out as many of the Obviously Autistic traits that a person has. We train our children not to stim, to make prolonged eye contact, to play only with “age appropriate” items. We use words like, cure and fix and broken and hardship and nightmare and burden.
So many LGBT+ youth spend years trying to be something they are not. They know what will be tolerated and what won’t. No pink anything for boys and no buzz cuts for girls. No talk of same sex attraction. Definitely cannot question gender. I mean, we barely expect boys to wash dishes or for girls to take out garbage.
And what do we do? Those of us who are broken, sissies or otherwise not what we know our parents wish we were?
We pretend. We hide. We lash out. We detach. We self-harm. We self-medicate.
None of it is good or sustainable; And whether those unhealthy behaviours come to an end in a good way or a bad way depends on many factors.
Archangel, (in the comics), comes from millionaire, mutant-bigoted parents who sign guardianship of him over to Professor X. In the movie, The Last Stand, however, Angels father has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities and offer the “cure” to any mutant who wants it. We see Angel as a child, who knows his fathers negative views of mutants, trying to saw his feathered wings off his own back. He has grown up thinking there is something wrong with him. He does not want to be a mutant. There are tears and blood everywhere. When he is discovered in the bathroom, his fathers disappointment and horror is evident. “No! Not YOU !”
We see Angel as a young man, very reluctantly agreeing to have his mutation stripped away by his fathers injection. For his whole life, this thing has caused him unnecessary emotional and physical trauma. He tries to hide, then he tries to mutilate, then he pretends – until finally, even though he knows how much it will anger his father and he understands that his action will likely mean their relationship is over, just as he is about to get the shot, he breaks free and flies out the window unable to take it all anymore. Nothing is worth more than being his true self, in all his winged glory.
Replace the words mutant and powers with autistic or gay and (Arch)Angels story could be anyones story.
…Angels father developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives autistics their traits and offers the cure…
…He has grown up thinking there is something wrong with him. He does not want to be autistic…
…He is ashamed of his struggle with sexuality and tries everything he can to numb his feelings and to prevent his father from finding out, including constant lying, avoiding being at home – even if that means sleeping in his car, cutting himself or drinking himself into oblivion…
…We see Angel as a young man, very reluctantly agreeing to go to conversion therapy, just to please his dad, even though he doesn’t feel like there is anything wrong with him…
…We see Angel as a young man, knowing that he would benefit from ADHD medication but choosing not to take it so as not to upset his father because taking it would mean admitting that something was “wrong” with him…
…Until finally, even though he knows how much it will anger his father and he understands that his action will likely mean their relationship is over, he just cannot take it anymore and decides to live a free and open and honest and healthy life…
I’ve lived some of those scenarios above (or something resembling them) and was well on my way to passing them onto my children. It took me years to see Jays autism, as something other than a tragedy. To be able to give him a sense of pride in his autistic brain. I fought so hard against Ace being on any time of ongoing medication. Not my baby. That’s for other parents who want to change their kid and make them into a zombie. It took me over 20 years to stop spouting out the anti-gay rhetoric that I was raised to believe in and another 15 before I willingly admitted to being in a relationship with a woman.
What a waste of time it all was.
Certainly, not all the mutants are good. Just as not all autistic people are nice and not all gay people are loyal and not all women are reasonable and not all straight, white men are ethical. That doesn’t mean that illogical and unreasonable fear of those who are different from you should be excused or justified. That thinking is damaging to the vast majority who are just trying to live their best lives. I whole-heartedly believe that people should be free to be themselves and that we should all be comfortable asking for help if we need it and be proud of who we are, as long as we are putting respect and compassion out into the world.
Lastly, in case you were wondering why the heck I chose to spend time writing about the X-Men today of all days?
Honestly, it’s just cause I had some free time last Sunday and it was on Hulu so I watched it.