Marvel writer behind gay Captain America takes stand against ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Aaron Fischer, the first LGBT+ person to call themselve Captain America, jumps while holding the Captain America shield

A Marvel comics writer who was behind the first gay Captain America has joined the fightback against Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Marvel’s parent company, Disney, has been widely criticised for its response to the Florida bill, which would effectively ban classroom discussions on LGBT+ issues and is currently sat on governor Ron DeSantis’ desk.

After backlash over Disney’s refusal to condemn the bill and its history of donations to Republicans who supported it, CEO Bob Chapek has admitted that he “missed the mark” and has paused all political donations.

Amid the row, one of the writers behind The United States of Captain America comic series – which introduced Aaron Fischer, the first gay Captain America – has made a statement of his own.

Christopher Cantwell announced on Twitter that he would be giving his earnings from the first issue of the series, which came out in June last year, to an LGBT+ non-profit.

Describing the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill as “hateful” and “hurtful”, he tweeted: “Disney financially supported every legislator behind the bill. Today I donated all I was paid to write [The United States of Captain America #1] to The Matthew Shepard Foundation.” 

The charity was set up in memory of Matthew Shephard, a student murdered in 1998, aged 21, for being gay.

Cantwell added he was “honoured” and “will always be” to have been part of the team that created the “first LGBTQ+ person to ever call themselves Captain America”. 

Fellow Marvel writer Jordan Blum announced he would be following Cantwell’s lead and was “donating everything” he was paid for the comic Spider-Bots Infinity to The Matthew Shepard Foundation as well. 

Disney has faced fierce backlash after it was revealed the corporation had donated to some of the politicians behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The media giant employs 77,000 in Florida, where it operates theme parks and cruises, according to the Washington Post, and its donations to both Republicans and Democrats makes it a political heavyweight in the state.

Bob Chapek apologised Friday (11 March) for Disney’s delayed response to the bill and paused all political donations in Florida for the time being. 

Chapek admitted in a company-wide email that he ‘let down’ Disney employees at a time when they “needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights”. 

“I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve,” he added. 

Chapek had previously argued that a corporate statement from Disney would be ineffective or even “counterproductive”, and that Disney’s energies were better spent telling “diverse stories”.

Soon after, a group of Pixar employees (another Disney division) claimed that Disney had a habit of culling LGBT+ themes and “moments of overtly gay affection” from their films.