Times sure have changed, and they changed pretty fast. Just a few short years ago, the hinting that a comic character MIGHT be gay was enough to get a writer fired (Remember when Northstar was “outted” in Alpha Flight?) and have fans boycotting. Now you can’t turn a comic book page without hitting a gay character. This is a good thing. I believe comics SHOULD feature a wider diversity of characters; not all our heroes and villains need to be heterosexual white males. Comics should reflect real life in that regard. People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, religions and sexual orientations.
Do you sense a “but” coming?
BUT. If it feels forced. (If you are retconning an established character, for example.) Even when handled by a master scribe like Brian Bendis. If you are basically shoehorning a character into a new role—Let’s make this hero a female! Let’s make this hero gay! Oh, we need a Latino superhero now. Let’s create one!—just for the sake of having a gay/Latino/Muslim/vegan/whatever, it becomes a case of tokenism. That’s a bad word. “Token.” It cheapens the value of that diversity creators are trying to establish in comics.
Iceman has been around for 50 years. And we’re just NOW learning that he is gay?