Queer Comic Book Characters: Rorschach and Ozymandias (Oct 7th) Watchmen 3 of 3

Both Rorschach (Walter Kovacs) and Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) are also possible LGBT characters. However, the text does not directly identity either them as gay; it only gives undertones and innuendos. This could be Moore and Gibbons’ way of saying that neither Rorschach nor Adrian are self-aware enough concerning to their sexuality to self-identify and/or act on any urge, and both are essentially asexual. This could also mean that neither of them are gay as Moore and Gibbons had no problem identifying Ursula Zandt (Silhouette), The Hooded Justice, and Nelson Gardner (Captain Metropolis) as LGBT; and the latter two were very closeted, though couldn’t keep their relationship with each other a secret from their team members.

Rorschach (Walter Kovacs)

Rorschach

As probably the most popular Watchmen character, Rorschach is an anti-hero with a black and white sense of right and wrong. He serves as narrator for a lot of the comic. He is extremely socially conservative, homophobic, and misogynist. Rorschach also completely lacks any psychosexual development and in general, is psychologically immature. His inability to self-express is worsened when he’s forced to take off his mask (in Chapter 6) and Moore passes along the narration to his psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Long. While Rorschach’s the most naive and child-like of all the characters, it’s also literally his way or the highway; if you cross into the black hat wearing zone, he (as a white hat) will kill you and often brutally. This is no doubt part of his appeal to us readers.

Rorschach’s sexuality largely centers around witnessing his mother’s prostitution at an early age. This was deeply traumatic for him, so much so that he freely calls any woman he meets a slut or a whore. Even Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre II) who fights on his side and helps rescue him from jail still gets called a whore. There is no way Rorschach could make friends with a woman, much less engage in any sort of sexual or romantic relationship with her. And since he lives and dies by his strict morals, he is also not going to hire a prostitute (of any gender), which would no doubt just remind him of his mother.

One of the biggest undertones that Rorschach’s gay is his friendship with Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II). Dan’s perhaps the only person in the book who genuinely likes Rorschach and is the one who suggests he and Laurie break Rorschach out of jail. Everyone else dismisses Rorschach as crazy, a jerk, or pity him. Rorschach trusts Dan in a way that he does not with the others and follows his lead. There’s a bit where the two of them are investigating Adrian and both Moore and Gibbons draw from the buddy-cop genre: a genre full of homoerotic innuendo. This is perhaps the only moment in the comic where Rorschach almost seems happy, determined to find the bad guy, but happy all the same.

This all said, there is no conclusive evidence to know where Rorschach fits on the Kinsey scale. In the comic, he is only portrayed as either asexual or most like anti-sexual, in how morally reprehensible he finds any notion of sexuality.

Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias)

Ozymandias

Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) is interesting in how his sexuality is portrayed in the comic book compared to the movie. In both, he’s given roughly the same background: wants to fix the world, neglected by his parents, largely raised by the television, brilliant, and head of a vast commercial empire. He’s one of the only characters who’s secret identity is publicly known. So much so that he sells action figures of himself. He’s also obsessed with ancient emperors, especially Ramesses II and Alexander the Great.

In the comic book, I argue that his sexuality is underdeveloped due to his personal skills being put on hold for his brains and his love of TV isolating him from human interactions. He appears largely asexual. Except for his love of Alexander the Great and how he wants to be him. Adrian uses Alexander the Great as his role model in his business dealings. Perhaps this also extends to Adrian’s personal life, and Alexander the Great was either bisexual or gay. Interestingly enough, Rorschach pegs Adrian as possibly gay when investigating him.

In the movie, I argue that Adrian is portrayed as either bisexual or gay. While consistent with the comic, Adrian has no romantic or sexual relationships on screen, there are other hints that Adrian likes men. In the opening montage, Adrian is seen hanging out with the Village People, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie at Studio 54 in the 1970s; a time when all these men were synonymous with gay male culture. In another opening scene, he’s seen with Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, who were also both gay. Though perhaps the biggest tell is when Dan looks through Adrian’s computer and finds a folder labeled “Boys,” along with his evil plans, of course. I’ll just hope those boys are all over 18 because we don’t need that stereotype.

Adrian's computer folders
Adrian’s computer folders

Similarly to Rorschach, I don’t think Adrian has a defined sexuality in the comic book. However, when it comes to the movie, it seems that Director Zack Snyder agreed with Rorschach’s assessment of Adrian’s sexuality.

If neither Rorschach nor Adrian are gay, it’s rather sad that Moore and Gibbons chose only to include straight (or asexual) characters in the Crimebusters, unlike the Minutemen. But if they both are gay, Rorschach just adds to the LGBT body count and Adrian plays into the gay turned evil stereotype as well.

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About Erica

Erica McGillivray is the showrunner of 6'7" & Green. I love comic books and enjoy taking a critical and a fun eye to them. If you're interested in knowing more about me, check out my main site or my Twitter account.
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6 Responses to Queer Comic Book Characters: Rorschach and Ozymandias (Oct 7th) Watchmen 3 of 3

  1. Tim says:

    I do believe Rorschach is gay. The police-report from the night of his arrest lists him as carrying a bottle of “Nostalgia” cologne. (he also applies this cologne, when talking to Dan – his crush – during a flashback panel on page 3, chapter/issue 7)

    One of Veidt’s corporate memo’s mentions that Nostalgia cologne has been marketed using “androgynous” female models, who they believe will help them break into the gay male marketplace.

    The connection is tenuous, but i believe it’s another small hint that Rorschach is gay, though, yes, probably unaware of it.

    As for Veidt, i’ve never seen evidence one way or the other.

    • Erica says:

      I didn’t catch the thing about the perfume. Nice one.

      In the film version, Vedit has a folder on his computer that is labeled “boys.”

      • Dead Metal says:

        I don’t think Rorschach is gay, he’s only ever portrait as a-sexual.

        He did have Nostalgia on him, but the report also states that it’s “Nostalgia Men’s cologne”, you can also see how he got it. He got it in Chapter III page 24, yea he stole it from Night Owl II’s bedroom. Yea Rorschach steals a lot from Dan. Also using men’s cologne doesn’t make you gay.

        Also Veid’s corporate memo states that they’re hoping to break into the “gay marketplace”, not “gay male marketplace” but just gay, the ad is also for the female perfume in the round bottle, while Dan’s/ Walter’s was the male square bottle.

        I also don’t see how being friends with Night Owl could make him gay? The reason why he only gets along with Dan is the fact that they used to be a team and worked together a lot back when Night Owl was still active and before he when completely over the edge, plus you know Dan is the only one who treats him like a friend. Also, being male and having male friends doesn’t make you gay.

        Veid however, does seem gay, or at least in love with himself.

        Sorry if this sounded angry or anything, I just found it weird that the most a sexual character was being discussed as being a possible homosexual. Other than that the Watchmen articles you’ve got going here are very good and informative.

        I found your blog while searching for Watchmen images and symbolism for a presentation I’m doing. I’m sure to check it out again in the future 🙂

        • Erica says:

          Glad that my blog could be useful for your research for your presentation.

          While I do agree that Rorschach is asexual, he does have more than just a friendship need with Night Owl II. But Rorschach is far too traumatized with shame about sex that he would ever go forward on any feelings.

  2. Brittany says:

    In the before watchmen comic they actually cover Adrian’s sexuality as being more pan or omnisexual. He wants to bang a person’s spirit, the body is inconsequential

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