A relaxed, happy man in a white shirt looks up at the sky, removing his sunglasses and smiling an easy smile. This is a man in love. Now, if I told you that same man was the hard-drinking, swaggerific John Constantine, you’d probably laugh. But that’s just where Legends of Tomorrow takes our favorite blond antihero in Season 4.
Constantine, bisexual master of the dark arts and general misanthrope, joined the crew of the Waverider on Legends after gallivanting through both Constantine and Arrow. While he flirted his way through the crew—and beyond—and had a friends-with-benefits situation with Time Agent Gary Green, Constantine’s encounters with men had mostly been relegated to his time spent off screen, remaining solely in the world of implication. However, in Episodes 7 and 8 of Season 4, “Hell No, Dolly!” and “Legends of To-Meow-Meow,” all that implication became explicit (in more ways than one).
Legends has already firmly established itself as a queer delight, and these episodes only take the queerness further. Both contain adorable bisexual side stories where Sara tries to get Ava to bond with Rory, Gary tries to woo Mona (who wants to woo a magical fugitive with wolf-like qualities), and the shapeshifter Charlie flirts with Gideon and Zari. The main event, however, is Constantine and his doomed boyfriend, Desmond.
Six months before joining the Legends, Constantine stops for a pint and a meal at a greasy-spoon diner in New Orleans. Who serves him but the dashing, debonair Desmond? The two fall madly in love with one another and rent an airy, bright, cute AF apartment. They linger in the kitchen and the bedroom, Desmond smiling at Constantine dreamily, softly, knowingly, lovingly. Love is something entirely new for John “I walk alone with the darkness” Constantine.
But this is still John Constantine, and there’s only one way relationships with him end: badly. Neron, a very big-time, very scary demon, wants Constantine’s help, but he refuses, resulting in Neron setting his sights on destroying him.
When Desmond learns that something wicked this way comes, he loans Constantine a family heirloom, a medallion containing a protection spell. Desmond promises to leave town while Constantine faces Neron, but instead, he makes a deal, binding the demon to his own soul so he will spare Constantine. A pained Constantine only realizes what Desmond has done when he sends Neron back to hell, dragging Desmond with him.
Constantine meets Desmond’s great-great-grandmother while on a mission in 1856 New Orleans, and she commands him to save her final living descendant. Apparently, permission was all he was waiting for. Bucking all common sense and Time Bureau protocol, Constantine returns to the time when he and Desmond were happily cohabitating to ruin things before Desmond can get attached.
It takes a few tries, but Constantine’s cruelty has the desired effect and Desmond leaves, erasing their love from the timeline. A ripple emanates out into all of existence, with dire consequences for the Legends crew. Constantine loses his grip on reality as the timeline with Desmond and the one without battle for supremacy in his mind. He’s arrested and imprisoned by the Time Bureau under suspicion of having altered the timeline. (Understatement of the century, amirite?)
Meanwhile, without Constantine’s magical know-how, members of the Legends team die in terrible ways at the hands of magical fugitives across multiple timelines. Desmond is also no longer in hell, but sadly, that is where Constantine must return him to restore the prime timeline and save the rapidly crumbling world.
While the Constantine of the moment heads out to buy groceries to make Desmond brunch and the Constantine who ruins the moment heads up to break Desmond’s heart, the now contrite Constantine lies in wait to intercept Desmond. After the two reconcile and before Constantine removes Desmond’s conflicting memories of multiple Constantines, Constantine says, “Know one thing, Desmond. I’m not quitting on you.”
Constantine of the new timeline leaves Constantine of the original timeline to connect with Desmond. Just in time, just as things are about to get much, much worse, original Constantine kisses Desmond, sending a shockwave of queer love—and a corrected timeline—out into the world.
While the kiss in and of itself is significant to the story, to Constantine’s arc, and to the whole Legends team, there’s something even more powerful about the fact that it’s a queer kiss shared by a couple doomed by forces outside their control. Not only does the kiss affirm Constantine’s long-closeted bisexuality boldly, but also it stands as a beacon of hope against the tide of evil.
In our reality, a tide of evil, a tide of hatred and discrimination and fear, is trying to erase and destroy the lives of queer people right now, right here. Queer folks are fired from jobs, stabbed while walking home from the club, legislated against, and mercilessly murdered just because of who we are. And what do we have to fight back with? We’re not a large voting bloc. We don’t tend to patrol in packs to defend everyone under our rainbow. We’re really just a loosely affiliated group filled with people who dare to live and love outside the norm. And that love, queer love, defines us.
Queer love is our superpower. Queer love strengthens us. Queer love can save the world, even if just for a moment, even if we will have to save it again later. The impact of that love is revolutionary. Just ask Constantine.