It started out scribbled some time in the 1930s with almost an afterthought just a tacky label for a supposedly two dimensional character in a children’s comic book. An “S” for Superman, essentially a god fallen to earth, distant from us and unreachable. Over time that character got fleshed out, to this idea seen across every modern incarnation, one of hope and inspiration from Ka-el, last son of Krypton, and Earth’s finest champion, who leads not by strength, but by the idea of justice, truth and the real american way.
I know I’m a bit of a comic book and superhero geek, and I’ll freely admit that without needing to resort to torture. There is something so powerful about that symbol that inspires hope even when he’s a fictional character. I know that each and every one of you gets a tiny tingle of something warm when you see it. There’s all that mythos and idealism wrapped up in it.
I remember an Elseworlds story set in which the puritans never fell from power and reached across the world with their tyranny. A very different Bruce Wayne sets out to be Batman, to fight for justice, and he finds the corpse of Superman, who of course had never had the chance to fly in this world, but even his kryptonite poisoned remains still was a symbol of hope.
When I was looking for a rainbow flag picture to form the basis of our new site banner, I came across a beautiful shot of a rainbow flag. It wasn’t just any rainbow flag, it is the giant flag that flies proudly above the Castro, day in and day out. It seemed a good omen, and a good sign to put at the top of my blog.
There was a time when we didn’t have our symbol of pride, in fact our only real symbol was the pink armbands the nazis put on our wrists in the death camps. But in San Francisco that changed, we knew we were not something dark and evil, but something wonderful and glittering. The rainbow showed our diversity, our richness and our origin in the light. It is our symbol that helps inspire us and keep us strong. Maybe we don’t have superheros, and maybe our heros are just as flawed as us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things better.
I wish there was a real superman, just as honorable and incorruptible as the comic book one. He never betrayed the idealism the way that Captain America or Iron Man did. He never looked down on those he flew above. I suppose its delusional to talk about him as if he’s a real person, but then again its not that different than religion. If I have to believe in something that’s impossible I’d rather believe in the child who fell from the stars and was a real savior, rather than someone who just claimed to be the only savior.
However we make our own gods, our own beliefs, and our own inspirations. that flag is our hope, our god, and our guiding light.