“The #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend hashtag has fluctuated among the list of trending topics, at some points reaching as high as #3 in the United States in the middle of the night and early dawn hours. The tag continued to trend throughout much of the day, becoming a gathering ground for not only Steve and Bucky shippers, but Steve and Tony shippers, supportive Steve and Peggy shippers, and non-shipping fans who are strongly in favor of some LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU.”
Angel at The Geekiary
Year of Origin: May 2016. It reached more than 54K tweets on Tuesday, May 24.
Platform of Origin: Twitter
The Wound: According to GLAAD, LGBT representation in recent Disney films (to which the Marvel Cinematic Universe belongs) is statistically non-existent. Their report reads that “In 2015, Walt Disney Studios released 11 films, of which 0 included appearances by LGBT people, amounting to 0%.” LGBT fans and allies who watched Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War noted that the entirety of the conflict in the film was triggered by the dedication and devotion of Captain America to his best friend, Bucky Barnes. Fans also noted the plot’s central conflict between Captain America and Tony Stark. As a rule, fans often discover and pursue “gaps” of story in a narrative and the depth of emotion felt between the two (sets of) characters did not go unnoticed as an opportunity for representation.
Narrative Bender (leading figure or figures behind the movement)
None that I could find. (pending further searching)
Followers of the movement often cited canonical evidence from the Marvel films to support their campaign and included GIFs and screenshots from the films in their Tweets.
Fans also created fanart (and cosplay, as seen above) to visualize this bent narrative.
The counter-movement to this campaign (#dontgivecaptainamericaaboyfriend) and similar sentiments often cited the “American” nature of the classic superhero as a reason to keep the figure straight. There were complaints that this would alter his origin story or become a “liberal” retcon to the canon, for lip service only and not for true fans. Proponents of the movement cited the fluid nature of comic book canon, the context of Captain America’s origin story being perfect for a gay character to be closeted, and the importance of representation in media – and in particular adaptations for the world today.
The question is not about “making” Captain America a gay character. The question many fans were asking was “What *if* Captain America is gay?” and still others asserted that evidence was there for him to be a bisexual or gay character already. What happens to the story then? Captain America and all that he represents becomes more inclusive, but not less honorable.
This campaign came very quickly on the heels of the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend Twitter campaign for the Frozen character, which trended a month earlier. This often resulted in an overlap of users of both hashtags and a citation of the previous campaign as the progenitor and inspiration of this one. Both campaigns are directed to the production company behind the characters and films, the Walt Disney Company. Both campaigns were supported by GLAAD.