Friday, April 23, 2010

Legitimizing Homosexuality


New York, NY (April 22, 2010): Archie Comics, home of the famous Riverdale High students Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead, is about to welcome a new classmate this fall! On September 1st, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first openly gay character, will be welcomed into the town of Riverdale.

"The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie's hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books," stated Archie Comics Co- CEO, Jon Goldwater.

(The above is from


As a devoted reader of Archie Comics in the late '60s and early '70s--have they really been around that long?--I was thrilled when I read the above in "The Vancouver Sun" this morning.  

Here was my thought process around this announcement:  How progressive for the makers of the Archie Comics to introduce a gay male character.  What took so long?  

Then:  I wonder how parents of children who read Archie Comics today will react to their sons and daughters experiencing a gay character at Riverdale High, mingling amongst all of the well-known and beloved straight characters.  Will any parents forbid their children from buying and reading them as a result, because they just don't want them to see a gay character legitimized in the pages of something supposedly as innocent and harmless as comic books?     

And then there was this thought:  How different would my growing up experience have been if I'd seen a gay male character in the pages of Archie Comics, if I'd seen myself interacting in a positive way with the whole Archie gang?  How isolated I felt way back when, not knowing there was anyone else like me in the world, with the same feelings and impulses I didn't understand. Imagine how much better I might have felt about myself, knowing there was a character by the name of Kevin Keller? Surely, he would have been a hero of mine, someone I looked up to, someone I wanted to be like.  I would have seen all the positive things that happen to him--for example, the other characters accepting him for who he is, as I'm sure they will--and I would have had reason to hope for the same.        

Yes, my gay experience would have been a far different one.  At least I hope so. And I can't help but be envious of children today seeing a gay character like Kevin portrayed in a positive way, symbolizing the diversity that makes each of us special. 

Thanks, Archie Comics, for this bold and forward-thinking change.  Without realizing it, you will play a role in helping many a young gay kid grow up feeling positive about himself, and seeing the possibilities for his life rather than the limitations.  I don't read Archie Comics anymore, haven't for nearly forty years, but I'm a fan, a big, BIG fan.   

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