By now it’s safe to assume that most ardent Young Justice: Outsiders fans watch new episodes within a day, if not within an hour, that they’re released on the DC Universe streaming platform. Nevertheless, if you’ve somehow avoided news regarding the latest episode “Quiet Conversations,” particularly concerning Aqualad, it seems only fitting to give a SPOILER warning.
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LGBTQ representation has often been the “third rail” in animation aimed at children and YA audiences but over the last few years we’ve seen networks take significant steps in rectifying its past instances of queer-washing. After the critically-acclaimed Young Justice animated series was canceled on Cartoon Network, but before it found a second thanks to its incredible fan support, producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti frequently told fans queer characters existed in the show when asked on social media.

Kaldur’ahm, the former protege of Aquaman known as Aqualad before taking his mentor’s mantle in Outsiders, was a new character created specifically for the show and eventually integrated into the comics under the name Jackson Hyde. Voiced by Khary Payton, Kaldur was largely unseen in the first half of the Outsiders season until most recently. The latest episode “Quiet Conversations” took a significant turn for Kaldur’s character when he shared an onscreen kiss with Wyynde (a somewhat obscure DC Comics character associated with Atlantis).

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Aqualad

In previous seasons, Aqualad was shown to have romantic feelings for fellow Atlantean Tula and even kissed team member Rocket.

This season of Young Justice has seen greater queer representation than the previous two seasons when it aired on network television. Thus far new character Halo/Gabrielle Daou came out as non-binary and shared a kiss with Harper Row, who is bisexual.

Kaldur’s sexuality isn’t a complete surprise, particularly for comic readers familiar with his aforementioned DC Comics counterpart Jackson Hyde. Back in July 2016, a few months before the return of the Young Justice animated series was officially announced, after a notable absence in the pages of DC Comics, Jackson Hyde/Aqualad made an appearance in the DC Universe: Rebirth Special by Geoff Johns, where we learned that Aqualad has a boyfriend.

Young Justice Aquald sexuality
Art by Gary Frank

On Twitter, Weisman took time to address Kaldur’s sexuality and stated that it was always the intent long before his comics counterpart Jackson Hyde came out in the DC Rebirth one-shot issue.

With six episodes left before the Young Justice: Outsiders season finale, keep watching to see how Kaldur’s relationship with Wyynde develops.

[Featured art by Christina ‘Soda’ Sotta]

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