In this week’s annual DC Pride 2022 #1 comic anthology, Kevin Conroy, the legendary Batman voice actor who rose to prominence in the fan-beloved Batman: The Animated Series, has written a powerful short comic about how his journey coming out as a gay man helped him find his voice as the caped crusader.
In Finding Batman, drawn and colored by artist J. Bone, Conroy recounted struggling with doubts about his own talent early in his career. Growing up in a devout Christian household, watching the ridicule gay men faced in the ‘70s amid the Stonewall riots, experiencing the loss of close friends during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the ‘80s, and being called slurs by fellow actors in public and private led Conroy to put on a mask of his own, locking away parts of himself from the public eye for many years.
However, all of Conroy’s experiences culminated on the day his voice-over agent gave him a call about Warner Bros. seeking an actor for Batman: The Animated Series. Despite knowing little about Batman prior to his meeting with the show’s creative team, Conroy said he resonated with the superhero because of the “mask of confidence” Wayne displayed to the world while also struggling in private to overcome the agony of maintaining his dual personalities.
“I often marveled at how appropriate it was that I should land this role. As a gay boy growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s in a devoutly Catholic family, I’d grown adept at concealing parts of myself,” Conroy wrote.
Conroy further wrote that the loss and disorientation Wayne felt mourning the death of his parents in Crime Alley echoed his own childhood experience witnessing his father drunk and bloody after injuring himself with a broken bottle. He said his lived experience making “too many” compromises while balancing his public and private face as a gay man allowed him to find his voice as Batman.
“My heart pulsed, I felt my face flush, my breath grew deeper, I began to speak and a voice I didn’t recognize came out. It was a throaty husky rumbling sound that shook my body,” Conroy said. “It seemed to roar from 30 years of frustration, confusion, denial, love, yearning…Yes, I can relate. Yes, this is terrain I know well. I felt Batman rising from deep within.”