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Outed in Batman's backyard: writer Greg Rucka brings lesbian cops to the ongoing story of DC Comics' Gotham Central. (culture).

Many gay and lesbian police officers have exercised the right to remain silent about their orientation due to fears of homophobic reprisal. Imagine then how difficult a place the closet might be if one had to fear being outed not just by fellow officers but by costumed supercriminals as well In a world that includes Batman and Superman, can two lesbian cops weather an explosion of personal closets?

Put away your over-art-directed versions of Joel Schumacher's Gotham City from the Batman films; the atmosphere of the DC Comics monthly series Gotham Central is as gritty, dark, and dangerous as it comes. The day shift of the Gotham City Police Department's Major Crimes Unit is led by Capt. Maggie Sawyer, a recent transplant from Metropolis. Sawyer was first introduced in the Superman mythos in 1987, a creation of writer-artist John Byrne. Although Sawyer has never before been explicitly out--she has, however, been shown cuddling with female partner Toby on multiple occasions--Gotham Central writer Greg Rucka says his story won't beat around the bush, as it were. "Maggie's gay," he says. "It's fundamental to the character. It's who she is, and therefore it influences everything that comes out of her."

One of Sawyer's most trusted squad members is Det. Renee Montoya, a tough young Latina who rose through the ranks of the corrupt police force with all her morals intact. Montoya first appeared in the Batman comic in 1992 and was transplanted to Fox's Batman: The Animated Series soon after. "I've always thought Renee was gay and closeted, ever since I first encountered the character," Rucka says.

As revealed in Gotham Central's current "Half a Life" story line (featured in issues 6 through 10), Montoya has been hiding the fact that she's a lesbian from both her coworkers and her very Catholic family. When a well-known Batman villain outs her with photos of her kissing her girlfriend Daria, Renee's private life becomes distressingly public. "It's a very calculated assault against Renee," says Rucka. "Somebody is really trying to break her down."

The author of eight novels and many comics, Rucka shares the writing chores on Gotham Central with Ed Brubaker, with the two alternating multi-issue story arcs. "One of the things that all of us working on this story really broke our backs on was that we wanted to make it as emotionally honest to the experience as we could, without sacrificing our story and without turning it into 'a very special episode of Gotham Central."

Rucka promises that both Sawyer and Montoya will continue to appear in Gotham Central and other future Batman comics. He also notes that the sapphic story line here won't be his last--his upcoming summer novel from Bantam, A Fistful of Rain, features a lesbian lead character. And his newest comic book assignment, for late 2003? Gay icon Wonder Woman. So will there be lesbians on Paradise Island, now known as Themyscira? "Hmm," he says. "Island full of women. Five thousand years. What do you think, culturally, is there? Yeah, Amazons are gay."

Mangels is a best-selling Star Trek, Star Wars, and entertainment writer.
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Article Details
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Author:Mangels, Andy
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 27, 2003
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