Amidst a blaze of fog, smoke, ice, and debris we see the X-Men exchange a knowing glance with one another as they eye the four medical vials laying on the ground beside them. The tubes contain a liquid that can “cure” mutants, but it is not the mutants who want the cure, it’s the heterosexuals, er, I mean the non-mutants.
My Freudian slip may reveal that some in society have been seeing more than mutants in this summer’s blockbuster film X-Men 3. I saw the movie and discovered that almost every scene in it somehow parallels the struggle to integrate gay and lesbian people into society.
In a world where some are born “normal” and others are born with genetic mutations that give them superpowers, those without the mutations decide to formulate a serum that can normalize the mutants. Most of the mutants argue that they don’t need a cure, asserting that their mutations are innate to their identities, but still some who aren’t happy with their mutations embrace the chance to change.
The movie has stirred up controversy particularly among those who feel that society has rejected gays merely because they are “different.” Even one of the films lead actors Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the villain Magneto, has noticed the similarities. McKellen spoke at the Cannes Film Festival shortly before the release of X-Men 3: "As a gay man, some people think that it ought to be cured and made normal again, and I find it as offensive as someone saying that they have a cure for the color of their skin. This particular story was close to my heart; it has an important message to young people who may for one reason or another be disaffected with society because society points at their differences and says that they’re inferior to the rest of us."
The film also parallels the inner-turmoil experienced by those who grow up with a gay orientation and fear the reaction of loved ones who may not understand. X-Men 2 has a scene where a mutant named Bobby (Iceman) tells his family for the first time that he can turn any object into solid ice. Having heard about mutants in the news, Bobby’s parents knew they existed, but never imagined that their own son could be one. Their suggestion that Bobby change and try “not being a mutant” is met by saddened stares from Bobby and his buddies.
In the third film we see a similar reaction from Warren Worthington II, the creator of the cure and father of a mutant son also named Warren (Angel). The son, who was born with a fully functioning set of angelic wings, initially submits to his father’s request that he inject the cure. Shortly thereafter young Warren is strapped onto an operating table, but when the procedure begins Warren decides that his wings are a part of who he is. After breaking from his father’s shackles, both literally and figuratively, Warren flies out the window and away.
The movie makes some worthwhile points, to be sure, as many in the gay and lesbian community suggest that those of us who have chosen not to embrace the gay identity have done so primarily because we fear the stigma of society or the rejection of our families. Indeed, some of the mutants in the movie may have changed their “orientation” for the wrong reasons, as is the case in the real world of men and women struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. Therefore to the degree that the Christian church has used shame or fear to motivate gay and lesbian people to change Sir McKellen’s criticism is warranted. Nonetheless, there remain many individuals in the Christian church who have abandoned their homosexuality not because they fear man, but because they love God.
As a young man I had an encounter with God in which he made it clear to me that homosexuality was not what he wanted for my life. I knew that if I wanted to experience the fullness of an intimate relationship with my creator I would have to put my sexuality on the altar along with everything else. I can remember complaining for hours to my mentor Lenny about the pain, struggle and temptation that I endured when I first submitted my sexuality to God. Lenny would always listen very patiently to my pain, and when I was finished he would just whisper into the phone the words, “Chad you know I’ve been down that road, and I’ve felt all that pain, and I can tell you now that I’m at the end of the road that he’s worth it. He’s worth it.”
Lenny and I didn’t give up our homosexuality because we feared man; we gave it up because we loved God. The movie gives us a parallel for that as well: Marie (Rogue) is a mutant whose powers inflict great harm on anyone she touches. It’s great for battling bad guys, but not so great when it’s time to snuggle up with her boyfriend Bobby. Again and again Marie would try to get close to Bobby but to no avail. Each time they tried to kiss, hug or even hold hands her superpowers would begin the process of eating away at his flesh. After years of frustration with her own inability to be intimate with Bobby, Marie heads for the offices of Worthington Laboratories to be injected with the cure. On her way out the door she runs into her friend Logan (Wolverine) who figures out where she’s going. He says it’s fine with him but he cautions her to “just make sure it’s what you want.”
Even as a fellow mutant, Logan realized that some mutants just weren’t happy being mutants, therefore he respected Marie’s right to change. His only concern was that she do so for the right reasons. Indeed, Marie didn’t seem too concerned about what society thought of her. She changed not because she feared man, but because she loved Bobby. She knew that giving up her superpowers was the only way she could ever experience true intimacy with the man of her dreams.
And he was worth it.