Why Archie needs a gay character.

So there has been some backlash after the recent announcement of Kevin, the gay character who will be making his debut later this year in the Archie universe. Some people think there should be a warning for parents on the cover so they can protect their child from reading about a gay character. While I totally believe a parent should be involved in what their kid watches on T.V/reads, you must be out of your fucking mind if you think Archie needs a warning. Out of the thousands of honest to God bad things for your child, an Archie comic is probably the last thing that should be on the list. Life does NOT give you any warnings. I don’t expect my $2.99 comic book to give me one either. At this point in my life I (and you) should be adult enough to realise how silly a warning over a gay character is.

Archie has done a terrific job in keeping up with modern times. Both myself and my sister have recently finished high school (myself in 04, her in 09) and I can safely say there were and will be gay kids in any middle/high school. My highschool has a Gay/Straight Alliance. My college has a coming out day. These sheltered kids will eventually run into a gay person, and how do you want them to re-act to them? I would hope by getting to know them as a person and not being judgemental by them for being gay.  By introducing Kevin to a younger audience, they can see that a gay person is no different than anyone else. This can hopefully prevent school dances  from being cancelled, or a teenager being killed for being gay. I honestly do not think Archie will lose money over this.

While I could go on preaching forever, my pal Mick said it best on an internet message board. Allow me to copy and paste:

“The Matthew Shepards, Lawrence Kings, and Carl Walker-Hoovers of this world–and there are MANY–who can’t walk the hallways of our schools without bullying and harassment because they are gay or perceived to be gay . . .they deserve better. A stat that always gets thrown out [but I feel sums up the problem rather well] is that LGBT youth are 3X more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. Is that something that so-called conservatives can sign on to? A more Jesus-like thing to do would be to figure out how we can fix this horrible societal malady and act accordingly. . .unless, of course, you think that LGBT youth DESERVE to be bullied in the halls of our schools. Acting accordingly would, by the way, not entail just kicking back, shaking your head, and letting it happen.

Whoever said it was a lifestyle choice apparently has never walked those hallways and taken the brunt of that bullying, because NO child would choose to enter into that realm of anxiety, marginalization, and fear. Students have enough concerns and anxieties over the course of a typical adolescent or teen day withOUT being bullied for being different in some way. You wanna talk choice? I’d say subscribing to religious philosophies that condemn people for their sexual orientation or gender preference is a choice. You can continue to drink the Kool-aid from the intolerance bowl all so that you’re nice and malleable when it comes time to vote for important things like health care, public education spending, and corporate greed. I’d say THAT’s a choice.

A gay character in Archie will likely have little lasting effect on sales, but if it does save a single child’s life because the character isn’t portrayed as some cliche, but rather, as a fully human character, then it’s worth it. It’ll be hard to tell whether any lives would be saved, but I can tell you that as a third grade teacher with a treasure chest full of comics (incentives for accumulated good behavior), there are few comics that are more popular with 8 year-olds than any of the Archie titles. They love them. I have a hard time believing that these 8 year-olds are part of the “conservative reader base” somebody was referring to.

What core conservative readership? Is there some anecdotal research you’re basing this on? Or is there some empirical evidence? Please point me to the data, either way. My students haven’t developed much in the way of long-term political philosophies just yet, but I can assure you that there are few people with a purer sense of social justice than a bunch of 3rd graders. I’d be willing to wager most kids are the same in that sense, regardless of religion or affluence in any classroom in the country, (going by anecdotal observations, no doubt). That’d place my third graders amongst those evil people who believe in a world where all people are treated fairly. The Becks, O’briens, & Hannity’s of this world would have you believe that it’s some commie or “socialist” conspiracy. I think it’s just that kids tend to want fairness for all. Call it what you like, but that doesn’t sound like a conservative readership to me.

And I’ll buy my students Archies until the cows come home when the publisher makes a commitment to addressing the societal malady of homophobia by doing something as revolutionary, as subversive, as beautiful as inserting a gay character into a plotline to underscore how life for characters like Archie and the gang can continue unabated and along a totally normal trajectory in the otherwise escapist realm of Riverdale. Take a deep breath. Some of our closest neighbors colleagues, friends, and [shudder] family are from the LGBT community. . .and we’re all going to be just fine. ”




4 Responses to “Why Archie needs a gay character.”

  1. michael sean morris Says:

    You and I may be adult enough, but are the kind of people calling for a warning adult enough?

  2. DanParent Says:

    It’s interesting….I get a call last Friday from a 12 year kid….says he’s gay, and thanks me for Kevin. I guess things that seem little to some of us mean a lot to some people.

  3. Girls with Comics Says:

    That’s really, really sweet. If you can help one kid feel good about himself, then I feel as though you’ve done one helluva job!

  4. Interesting Article « Save Archie! Says:

    […] Interesting Article Read it here. […]

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