"As the fandoms respond positively to these characters we're going to see more of them," he says

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
February 03, 2015 08:00 PM
Katie Yu/The CW

It’s not your typical comic-book storyline.

Last week on The Flash, the breakout hit for the CW, we saw the introduction of Hartley Rathaway (a.k.a. the Pied Piper), who is one of DC’s first openly gay characters. (Hartley is a genius who manipulates sound waves, and is intent on the bringing down the sinister Dr. Harrison Wells.)

PEOPLE chatted exclusively with Andy Mientus, the Broadway alum and actor portraying Hartley, who opened up about what it’s like to break new ground as a gay superhero on television.

“I think that it’s a really positive thing for everybody,” he tells PEOPLE. “We, as a country, as a culture, are figuring out that the audience for these types of shows is not what people stereotypically think it is, you know? I know that I thought of the comic book world – before I was more initiated – as being very adolescent, white, straight male. But that’s not true at all.

“I think we’ve seen some of the popularity of these shows that they appeal to all of America and all of the world. We got the news of a black Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl, which I think is incredible.

“I think it just shows that America is ready for more diversity. It’s expecting more diversity, and Greg Berlanti and the powers that be at The Flash and other shows, recognize that everyone’s ready for that. And they take the fanbase seriously enough to think that they’re not going to be scared away by a gay superhero or a black Jimmy Olsen or a black Iris West – I mean, that was a big deal, that she was a woman of color. So I just think it’s a really great thing.

“As the internet and the fandoms respond positively to these character and casting choices, we’re going to see more of them because the other powers that be won’t be so scared to change the color of a beloved character’s skin, or whatever else.”

The Flash airs on Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on The CW.