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Viva Mi Gente!: 12 Latino Celebrities and Characters Who Thrust HIV/AIDS Into Popular Culture

May 15, 2013


Extraño/Gregorio de la Vega

Extraño/Gregorio de la Vega

Looking down the (short) list of gay superheroes, you will see a lot of names of Caucasian characters -- and many of them did not come out until the '90s, 2000s, or 2010s. However, DC Comics did have a (horribly stereotyped) gay Latino superhero in the 1980s, and his name was Extraño -- which literally means "strange." Extraño (whose real name is Gregorio de la Vega) is a master sorcerer from Peru who when introduced was an effeminate man who wore loose, colorful clothing and was lively and jovial. He usually referred to himself as "Auntie," and often acted as a parent-like figure to other people on his superhero team -- The New Guardians, a group selected by the Guardians of the Universe to take part in an experiment on human evolution.

Here's where things do get a little "strange": Extraño was not handled well by DC, and many have since tried to talk about his history. People have tried to explain what happened to him, and some gay geeks have tried to resurrect his legacy. Extraño never came out, but he utilized a lot of slang terms, spoke in over-the-top sexual innuendo, and embodied a lot of other stereotypes. It was later revealed that Extraño was HIV positive, after being attacked by an "AIDS vampire" that was called ... wait for it ... "Hemo-Goblin." Though he came out as HIV positive, it was unclear whether he was previously positive or actually infected by the AIDS vampire. Even weirder, the storyline goes that Hemo-Goblin was created by a white supremacist group to eliminate anyone who was not white by infecting them with HIV.


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