Just how queer are Batman and Robin?

Slate's history of the gay subtext between Batman and Robin collects the best panels and earliest insinuations from critics and commentators. It also looks at how the goofy 1960s TV show made Batman camp yet sexless, leading to D.C. comics nervously heteronormalizing the characters, which only solidified their earlier gayness in the public imagination.

What's interesting about it from a queer subtext standpoint is that the people involved in creating the art and stories universally insist that there was never any nudge-nudge-wink-winkery going on in their work. Batman and Robin are not lovers; the relationship is traditionally paternal. In other words, the queer subtext is either unintentional or imposed by the audience. Is this really subtext, then? Or is it just derpy inadvertent homoeroticism? Weldon's argument:

Intention doesn't matter when it comes to gay subtext. Imagery does. Remember: Queer readers didn't see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don't see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure. That panel of a be-toweled Bruce and Dick lounging together in their solarium, for example, would not carry the potent homoerotic charge it does, were the same scene simply described in boring ol' prose.

This seems contrived to let us keep pretending Batman and Robin are undeniably queer irrespective of the creators' intent. But I quite like Weldon's suggestion, because it explains why trying to turn the Batman/Robin "subtext" into text always fails creatively. Whereas plain old narrative subtext can be exposed as text without changing its implied meaning, these subtextual images can't. As soon as you identify them as such, they become mere innuendo: an insincere and superficial negotiation with censorship.