Welcome to the 12th installment of our 2020 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike – the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
Batwoman first flew onto our screens during the “Elseworlds” crossover event on The CW. Joining forces with The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl, we got a quick glimpse of Kate Kane. It did the trick, and viewers were excited for more.
There are a lot of superheroes out there, but there is one thing that sets Batwoman apart from the rest: Kate Kane is an out lesbian. Kate is someone who is not afraid to be who she is.
When she was in the military academy, she fell in love with Sophie (played by Meagan Tandy). Unfortunately, it was during a time of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Getting caught was a turning point for them. Kate was never going to be silent about who she was and wanted to run away with Sophie. Sophie, however, chose to be silent. She was afraid to be out, and she didn’t want to hurt her career.
Their paths would cross again, with Sophie working for Crows Security, led by Kate’s dad Jacob Kane. Things are awkward between the two, especially when Kate is introduced to Sophie’s husband. Despite the tension, Kate still often would work with Sophie. Both as herself and donning the cape and cowl. In fact, a powerful LGBTQ+ moment happens during one of these meetings.
Kate and Sophie meet at a fancy restaurant. With the topic of discussion serious and feelings still stirring between them, Kate reaches for Sophie’s hand. A small, but sweet, gesture. Except the manager sees this, and quietly asks them to leave the restaurant. Kate is having none of it, loudly speaking out against the hate. Nonetheless, they leave. What happens next would have everyone cheering. Kate buys the place across the street. She makes it a gay bar, welcome to everyone. And the iconic statement? She hangs a giant rainbow flag in the window for all to see, including the restaurant across the street. Way to go, Kate!
Another powerful moment happens when Batwoman herself comes out. There’s no doubt that superhero identities stay a secret. Their lives stay private when they put on the mask. Except that can often complicate matters.
When Batwoman keeps crossing paths with a male cop, both end up saving each other. The people of Gotham City become obsessed with the story, shipping the two together. This puts Kate in a tough spot. Does she reveal a part of herself to the public or deal with it. Meanwhile, she meets a cyberterrorist named Parker (who is later reformed) who was outed before she was ready. Alice (Kate’s sister, and the big bad of the show) kidnaps Parker, and tries to get Parker to our Kate.
The thing about a good hacker is they can use technology to their advantage. She makes Alice believe that Kate was outed, when in reality she wasn’t. Kate comes out anyway, her article, written by Kara Danvers (Supergirl), making the cover.
It is a moment where art imitates life. Parker sees the magazine and smiles. There’s a superhero like her, out and proud. Likewise, we LGBTQ+ viewers have a superhero to look up to. What helps the cause even more is that Kate is played by Ruby Rose, who is out and proud herself. Representation matters.
It is moments like these that makes Batwoman so special. It is a realistic and familiar part of a superhero show. Viewers can watch and see moments they can relate to — a hero they can relate to. We see the ups and downs of love and society. We see the power representation has on the public. It is powerful.
While Ruby Rose has since left the show, and Batwoman will head into a new direction with season 2, we will still find representation moving forward. The creators have made an all new lead character to put on the cape and cowl. She may be different than Kate in personality, but the one thing they have in common is that this new character is also a lesbian. Moreso, the new character will be played by an LGBTQ+ actor. A huge thank you to the creators for making sure we still have a hero we can look up to.
I am interested to see where these new paths lead in Batwoman. I’m even more excited to see that LGBTQ+ representation will continue within the show. I hope that it sparks inspiration among comic creators and that we will see even more representation in our comic books, shows, and movies!
Batwoman will return January 2021 for season two. You can stream season one on HBO Max and The CW app.