Character Profile - Otis Jackson (Bulwark)
Otis Jackson (Bulwark)
Place of Origin: England
Otis doesn’t dedicate time to working out, you’ll never find him in the gym or lifting weights, but he does like to take care of himself and stay somewhat in shape. He is quite an active person and hates keeping still for too long, occupying himself with dancing or pacing, normally with a book in his hand. He has a few physical scars, but none that are visible unless he is roaming around topless, which he is unlikely to do.
Otis has only really known the darker side of humanity, presenting itself in the form of bullies, religion, homophobes, and now mutie haters. Despite this, he looks for the best in people, he somehow finds their inner light and tries to pull it to the surface. This has allowed him to form some great connections with people but also allows others to take advantage of his caring nature. He knows the world can be a better place and wants to be part of making that dream a reality.
Early years Biography
Otis has known fear and hate for longer than he can remember. His parents, part of the Windrush generation, emigrated from the Caribbean to the UK in the late 50s in the hope of a better life for themselves and the family they planned to have. Blessed with two daughters and a son, Winston and Yvette found life challenging in the predominantly white area in which they settled in the Midlands. Racist attacks were frequent, which wasn’t helped by the constant fearmongering tactics of the British tabloids and news services. Despite all of this, the Jacksons kept their head down and counted their blessings as things could always be worse. They kept steady jobs, they had a roof over their heads, and they rarely went to bed hungry.
School was a difficult time for Otis, he felt different from the other children in more ways than one. He often wished he could join in their games and just be a ‘regular’ boy. More reserved than the other members of his family, he often found solace in his own company, expressing himself through his art and reading any books he could get his hands on. Dreaming of the faraway places his imagination could take him only widened the gap between himself and his peers. As he grew older and moved into secondary school, he found his voice and sense of worth. Excelling in the arts, drama, and English he was able to express himself in ways he hadn’t discovered before. He even made a few friends and for the first time in his life, he no longer felt lonely.
One friend in particular made Otis feel special in a way he had only read about in his books or seen on the television set when his ma was watching her stories. Benny and Otis spent a lot of time together, reading comics, listening to music, and talking about all the adventures they would have when they were old enough to leave. Otis believed that the two had an understanding that when they left together, they would also be together. This ‘understanding’ was onesided and when Otis felt brave enough to express his feelings, Benny rejected him. Rumours spread quickly around their small community and it wasn’t long before Winston and Yvette questioned their son about his sexuality. He had no intention of telling his extremely religious parents that he had feelings for another boy and so he lied. However, the rumours grew and he returned home to find his room ransacked and every story and drawing he had made about Benny out on his bed, for the whole world to see.
Forced to attend shock therapy once a week for months, this only confirmed to Otis what he knew all along; he was destined to be hated and feared for just being who he was, first for being black, then for being gay. They say things come in threes and not long after his seventeenth birthday he found this to be true. During a particularly gruelling session, he felt a pain like none he had experienced before. Just when he thought this was the end of his short life, a shimmering aura expanded from him, destroying the aversion machine and harming the ‘doctor’ in the process. Scared and fearing repercussions, Otis fled.
Otis moved to London to make a new life for himself and for a while he was happy. He had a job, he had friends, and for the first time, he truly felt as though he belonged. Accepted by his peers for being black and gay, he didn’t want to push his luck and so kept his growing mutant power under wraps. Though the propaganda against mutants was growing daily, he had other more pressing concerns; AIDS, or “the gay plague” as it was known, was running rampant in the gay community. By the mid-eighties, Otis watched a number of his friends die from the disease and he couldn’t help but wonder if this was a message from God and the lifestyle they had chosen. Choosing to arm himself with information instead of hearsay and fear, Otis did whatever he could to spread the message of safe sex and protection across the country’s gay communities. This wasn’t an easy job and was often met with resistance and violence, thankfully his developed mutant ability kept him, and others, safe.
Times were hard but Otis pressed on, not wanting others, especially young boys, to ever feel as alone as he once had in his childhood. He also wanted to make sure that people had the correct information and guides instead of the misconceptions and hatemongering the government was so eager to spread up and down the country. Eventually, he heard of a place where he could make a difference on multiple levels, where he wouldn’t have to hide any aspect of himself, and hopefully be fully accepted as the man he had become.