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I knew it! Batman and Robin's secret relationship

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As a young boy I used to watch the old Batman TV show. My parents probably thought I was watching it for the silly super hero camp and the cartoony fake fighting. I always knew "bat-pole" was a euphemism. Little did they know I was glued to the set because of those legs. Oh yes, Burt Ward's legs that just went on forever until they met those tiny little green shorts and.....But I digress.

Finally, we have proof: Actual excerpts from the comics over the years that prove what we've known all along. And they thought they could keep it Lewinsky-private. Hah!


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Holy Canoli! I'm... well, I'm amazed. I can hardly believe they're original and haven't been photoshopped. Mind you, I used to watch them too and though he could be really annoying, Robin was definitely - Zowee! - the one. ;)

My mother wasn't keen on the theme tune!

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There's an interview somewhere with Burt Ward, the actor who played Robin / Dick Grayson in the TV show. He was around college age but looked younger. He was required to shave his legs for the costume. The rest of the interview does get into how he and Adam West and others joked about the subtext.

I was blissfully, naively unaware of the subtext as a kid, reading the comics or watching the TV show. As I got into my teens, I was, "of course" (usually) "too old" for cartoons. Usually is the keyword there. I still didn't quite clue in on the subtext. But yes, eventually, it does soak in.

Comics and manga are fine. Kids know it's pretend. They know it's about role models and good and evil and cops and robbers. They know the stories are fun as well as about morals and things like being athletic, "fit in body and mind."

And straight boys and gay boys alike want to be handsome, masculine, physically fit, and attractive to someone they like. They probably know that, and art, is why those guys and girls are presented in skin-tight costumes with lots of muscles. The women are all shown as very curvaceous and beautiful. The men are muscled and handsome. It's about fantasy powers, after all.

Yet it's also about learning and teaching roles and anatomy and that kind of thing.

And yes, for those of us who grow up and begin to realize we like other guys (other girls) we begin to wonder about those skin-tight costumes, or why Tarzan and Conan and all run around in a loincloth (or less).

Probably the really funny thing is this also shows our collective cultural biases: Either to make it clear it's not sexual (supposedly) or because of several cultures that are shy about nudity, almost none of these superheroes or villains run around nude. Unless, of course, they have "mutated" or are aliens, in which case, the guys still have mere "bulges" where they would actually have actual "anatomy" showing. ;)

Fun comparison: Compare Chewbacca and Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Whatever Chewie's got, it must be something, wouldn't you think? But it's hidden under a whole lotta hair (pause for chorus). But Harry, if you notice some of the pictures, is allowed to have something a little more realistic, even though yes, they were pretty careful about that. Harry hangs out with the young son in the movie, but we can all tell that our buddy Harry is more like a lovable, likable brother or buddy than any subtext there.

We seem to have this idea that we have to wear something for swimming too. The girls wear bikinis, though some wear something less revealing. The boys wear board shorts or shorts or sometimes a swim brief or Speedo. (And yes, not every guy who wears a Speedo really should, um....) -- But isn't it funny that we think everyone has to be wearing a swimsuit, and people get upset over any nude beaches or skinny-dipping? -- You'd really think people would realize, if you're going to wear briefs or a Speedo or a bikini, why the heck not just go nude? -- Probably the same for tights.

I say this as someone who did grow up mostly innocent of all the subtext (until puberty) and as someone who grew up mostly body-shy and with a pretty strong (not exclusive) nudity taboo at home. Yet I also grew up close by the Texas Gulf Coast, so it was commonplace, growing up, for people to wear shorts and for guys to go shirtless or wear a tee or tank top, while girls might wear a halter top. So again, there's a blurry standard there.

Um, one note, though. I sure did like watching Flipper as a boy, and even though that was very much like how my friends and I dressed most of the summer, uh, as I got a little older (early teens and on) it did begin to dawn on me that, hmmm, say, watching those two guys sure is entertaining in all sorts of ways, and had been as a kid too, I just hadn't known quite why yet. And yes, you bet I watched Flipper reruns. (That is, until it really hit me just what was so much more interesting, and I got embarrassed and uptight. Wish I hadn't been so self-conscious and judgmental.) ... So anyway, let's hear it for Flipper!

And hurray for comics. It's all in good fun, and it's a learning experience. Heck, for some of us, it's even more educational, not to mention fun.

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A little less grumbling than my above post:

There is also this article on the Queer Side of Comic-Con International 2012. If you're a comics/manga/anime geek or scifi/fantasy geek, it's well worth reading about. There are all sorts of good things, gay/queer or not, at San Diego Comic Con each year. I'd love to attend someday.

Note: Overall, you'll find science fiction and fantasy conventions and fans more generally friendly to LGBT folks. After all, if you can conceive of friendly alien lifeforms, possibly friendly human lifeforms of alternative orientations are not so outlandish. At least, in general.

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There's an interview somewhere with Burt Ward, the actor who played Robin / Dick Grayson in the TV show. He was around college age but looked younger. He was required to shave his legs for the costume. The rest of the interview does get into how he and Adam West and others joked about the subtext.

Burt Ward talked about this quite a bit in his autobiography. He didn't have to shave his legs -- he actually wore tights on the TV show:


But in his book My Life in Tights (literally the title), he says they had a lot of trouble with his, ah, appendage, and had to use great care to make sure neither he nor Adam West was too "bulgy" in wide shots.

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George Takei did not come out until 2005, but it was pretty widely known in the industry and among fans that he was gay, going back to the 1980s. I met him a few times in the 1970s and had my suspicions even then, but didn't have a chance to find out. Takei has gone into his gay history in great detail on the Howard Stern Show on Sirius Radio, and has said his first sexual experience was when he was a teenager in summer camp, and had a fling with an older teen who was a camp counselor.

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