In response to a complaint at the X-Universe Message Board that there are hardly any gay mutants - despite the fact that the mutants in the X-Men's universe are popularly understood as analogous to queer or racially Othered youth - a poster named Tiger Shark wrote the following: "the X-men is already a metephor for minorties everywhere and of all kinds, so there's no need to trot out a 'gay' X-Man just to fill a quota".
There's something immediately appealing about this logic, though I'd suggest that it ultimately fails. It's appealing, I think, because claims to X-Men's metaphoricity are incredibly seductive. Under the logic of metaphor, an implicit comparison allows for the attributes of a to be read on to b. So X-Men is not just a superhero comic - depending on who you talk to, it's also about race relations and civil rights, homosexuality and homophobia, 'the red scare', Jewish-American assimilation, and/or teen alienation.
That said, a metaphorical relation implies equivalence, and some of these metaphors are more equal than others: given the overwhelming normativity - the characters are almost universally whiten, malen, able-bodied, middle-to-upper-class, and heterosexual - of the X-Men, the race and sexuality readings can be contradicted and deconstructed without much effort.
The same poster later accused me of "being too literal" and "lost in minutiae", though these sound like reasonable demands to place on language. We should be skeptical of a comic book that, literally, presents us with dozens of heterosexual characters but asks us to understand (misrecognize?) them figuratively as non-heterosexual. A certain degree of dissimilarity is expected in a metaphor, but this isn't just minutiae that I'm getting stuck on - it's a fairly evident contradiction that's embodied in nearly every X-character.
[This was all inspired by a specific textual incident, but I'll get to that in the next installment. My apologies if you've read my 'Mutant Readers, Reading Mutants' paper, which I posted here, and this sounds redundant. But most people don't want to bother with a 20 page document, and it feels helpful and necessary for me to rewrite some of those arguments in a more concise manner and with some tweaking and more contemporary examples.]