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Comic Consciousness

Queer is the new normal

Remember when “queer” was an insult? I guess you can still use it if you’re feeling particularly retro, but in general most people are kinda over it. All those years of outing ourselves and parading through town chanting “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” pretty much worked. 

Oh sure, rabid homophobes are still out there committing hate crimes. But let’s not dwell on the backward thinkers who continue to rail against equality. For just a few minutes, could we please ignore the bigotry-denying power-suited patriots who condone as “hijinks” brutal assaults on gay kids? Other than our potential president and those other persistent pockets of prejudice, most folks have moved on. 

Thanks to the legions of brave souls who’ve risked it all to reveal who they are, when someone you know (or idolize) comes out queer it isn’t all that shocking any more. Queer is the new normal. 

Well, not exactly normal. Not under the law, at least, for one teensy weensy example. But the wheels turning toward full equality are in motion. We’re getting there. Meanwhile, queerness is everywhere and getting more normal every day.

Look around. LGBTQ people are participating in every normal institution — the media, the military, education, religion and, despite all-out bans in 31 of our 50 not-quite-United States, marriage. Queer couples are getting married all the time, even though our marriages have yet to be federally recognized. But with the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that The Defense of Marriage Act, aka marriage discrimination, is unconstitutional, even those walls are a’tumbling down. 

We are moving forward fast. Latest news is queers are now officially normal enough to be represented in mainstream comic books. Yes, folks, when we say “We are everywhere,” we do mean everywhere. Everywhere, I am thrilled but not surprised to learn, now includes Archie comics, bastion of normal American life. Yep, now we’re here, queer and used to it in good old Riverdale, home to those über-wholesome archetypes: Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica. Can you get more normal than that?

In Life with Archie, issue #16, the popular and out gay character, Kevin Keller, marries his boyfriend Clay. Their interracial military wedding is a gaga gay gala presented as, you guessed it, utterly — if not fabulously — normal. 

Looks like the doomsday America’s gay-fearing zealots have been warning us about has arrived. Chicken Little’s sky has fallen. Children are learning that, horror of horrors, queer people are a normal part of our communities — real-life or illustrated. Naturally, the anti-gay One Million Moms group has called for a boycott, but that only makes Archie readers clamor for more. No sooner was the boycott announced than Kevin and Clay’s wedding issue sold out.

“Kevin will always be a major part of Riverdale, and we’re overjoyed, honored and humbled by the response to this issue,” says Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie comics. “Our fans have come out full force to support Kevin. He is, without a doubt, the most important new character in Archie history. He’s here to stay.” 

We can’t be stopped now.