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You heard it right — this past Sunday, at FlameCon 2 in Brooklyn, Chris Claremont, one of the definitive writers of the X-Men in the late 20th century, basically told us all that Kitty Pryde is the queerest character he ever wrote.
Of course, the man speaks in riddles, so it takes some unraveling to see it.
At the tail end of the panel “Pride and the X-Men,” panel member (and New X-Men artist) Phil Jimenez asked Claremont: “Who is the queerest character you’ve ever written?” After a mild amount of demurring, and Jimenez clarifying that ‘queer’ here could mean basically anything from ‘off-kilter’ to ‘gay.’
Claremont proceeded to reply:
“In X-Men: The End, volumes 1 through 3, a certain character is President of the United States, and…she is notable (a) for being the fiftieth president of the united states, which, if you’ve read Days of Future Past you’ll know is the last President of the United states, but (b), she is notable because she is a historic first, and it’s not because she’s a mutant.”
I submit you can’t get more cryptic than that.
To unravel: he means Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde. In the The End continuity, Kitty goes into politics and wins the presidential election. Kitty’s history practically bleeds gay subtext, too; take, for example, Rachel Summers. While appearing on Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men’s 100th episode, Claremont compared their relationship to that of Jean Grey and Wolverine, saying:
“[…]Kitty is as bound to the Phoenix in her own way as Logan is.”
And also, regarding that X-Men: The End timeline:
“The significance of Kitty’s two-term stint as POTUS is not that she’s the first mutant President of the United States […] the person that’s constantly by her side is Rachel. And when you get to the White House, you never see who is the First Spouse, but the key visual is that one of the kids is a redhead.”
So, here’s to Word of Gay on Kitty and Rachel, at least in Claremont’s vision.
Considering Claremont’s reticence to otherwise talk about intended gay subtext in the X-Men when he wrote them, it’s huge that he’s this frank and open about Kitty and Rachel. Even in this panel, Claremont insisted his obliviousness, back in the 80s. He didn’t realize that he’d written subtext that LGBT readers to relate to. As such, he didn’t intend any of it back then.
However, I spoke to Mr. Claremont after the panel, and we talked extensively about interpretation. He stated that having many interpretations of works is good. I agree — there is room to interpret so many of the X-Men as non-cisgender or non-heterosexual, and to have the implicit blessing to interpret them that way by Claremont himself is extremely good for an LGBT audience. Plenty of writers, both past and present, get uncomfortable speaking frankly and honestly about stuff like this. I’m so grateful that Mr. Claremont is not one of those writers.
Now I’m wondering if Kitty will be the next X-Man to officially come out.
Let’s hope Jean Grey has nothing to do with it this time.