Growing up I was a comic book junkie, not as bad as a lot of kids my age were, but serious enough. As I grew older though, my interest died down a bit, but never went away completely. I still knew what was going on with my favorites, even if I didn't read the books all the time. So when Northstar came out of the closet, I was thrilled. I had enjoyed him for a few years and found him to be my favorite of Alpha Flight, so him being gay just topped of my love for him.
Born Jean-Paul Beaubier, Northstar had a rather hard childhood. Shortly after he was born both of his parents were killed and he was separated from his twin sister. He was raised by distant relatives until they were both killed when he was six, and he was put into foster care. As he got older he started to realize that he was both gay and a mutant, he has the ability of super speed and can manipulate his own kinetic energy. He acted out by petty theft until someone took him under his wing and introduced him to skiing, an activity that allowed him to train his powers as well. He had a brief run as a trapeze artist for a circus but quickly went back to skiing, where he won an Olympic Gold Medal. A medal he had to give back years later when the public found out he was a mutant.
He eventually joined the Canadian team, Alpha Flight, were he was reunited with his twin sister who went by the codename Aurora. She shared his same ability and when they touched, their powers were amplified. Throughout the years he was been killed, turned into a zombie, brainwashed to kill other heroes, and adopted a young baby girl with AIDS who dies shortly after. Now since this is superhero land, he was done all this in different alternate realities, instead of in the same time and space.
His sexuality has been both ignored and explored, in one reality he dated Colossus. He has had issues with his sister and the public over it and has even mentored another young hero who was gay. He was been a role model for thousands of gay kids who needed a hero they could look up to, and thankfully the Marvel writers (for the most part) have allowed him to do just that.