News24

Congratulations to Archie for gay marriage!

2012-03-05 13:56

Georgina Guedes

Last week I read an article in the Guardian about how the issue of long-running Archie comic featuring gay marriage on the cover had sold out. This was despite predictable calls from the American Family Association’s website One Million Moms for the cover to be pulled from Toys R Us’s stores across the nation.

Let’s take a step or two back. I haven’t read an Archie comic in years, and I’m delighted to learn that a gay character – the fabulously named Kevin Keller – had joined the gang whose exploits I followed as a child. This shows that while I’ve been busy growing up and moving on, Archie, which felt like a relic of my youth, has been keeping with the times.

I’m sure that this is not the first storm of controversy to hang over Kevin’s head, but I’m glad – and not a little surprised – that he exists in Riverdale. Of course, the response of the One Million Moms bunch is less surprising, given the anti-tolerance rife in the Land of the Free today. In fact, if anything, I’m surprised that their response was so moderate.

However, it’s their statement that homosexuality is a concept “too complicated” for children to understand that I’d like to unpick. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only complicated if you make it so. If you help your children to understand from an early age that sometimes men love men and women love women, you’ll avoid a lot of scandalised eye-covering and urgent letter-penning, and probably mitigate a lot of bullying and intolerance to other children who do not conform.

The Moms complain that as a result of the comic’s presence in the shops “a trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for”. Sorry, moms, I’m not buying it. The conversation should already have been had. Your gay friends and relatives should be sitting in your kitchen sipping Starbucks without anybody batting an eyelid… What? Oh, no gay friends or relatives? Well, get some, for goodness sake!

Or, in line with Archie comics co-chief executive John Goldwater’s sentiment: "Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It's an idealised version of America that will hopefully become reality someday.”

People often ask me why I, as a married straight woman, stick up so fervently and frequently for the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – not a sandwich) community. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with gay people around and find the homophobic posturing of a certain set of South Africans and Americans offensive.

It also has something to do with the fact that I believe that so many straight people are in unhappy relationships for reasons of security and societal conformation, and I admire every gay person for the struggle against what is expected of them in pursuit of honest love and happiness.

And in general, it has a lot to do with the fact that I believe that what people get up to is their own business, and that we have no right to judge or condemn anyone as long as they’re not hurting others.

I grew up in a tolerant and unbiased environment, and I turned out tolerant and unbiased, but still straight. I believe there’s no inherent risk in exposing children to these notions from birth. Which brings me back to the Archie comic; what a great way to simplify and normalise choices about orientation and promote open-mindedness.

I’m delighted Goldwater’s feedback to One Million Moms: “We're sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people."


- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Comments
  • Unfound - 2012-03-05 14:21

    Well said, Georgina.

  • Nibiru - 2012-03-05 16:05

    If you had children would you prefer them to be straight or gay

      Rudolf - 2012-03-05 16:18

      I'd prefer them to be healthy!

      Godfrey - 2012-03-05 16:19

      I don't care. I just want them to be successful and happy. What would you do if you found one or more of your children were gay? Disown them? Nice!

      Wesley Bischoff - 2012-03-05 18:52

      It wouldn't matter, because a person's sexuality doesn't determine their character, morals and actions. I would love all my children, even if he/she were to turn out transgender...

      alyn.adams - 2012-03-07 12:39

      Makes as much sense as "would you prefer them to be blondes or brunettes", or "boys or girls". What parents would PREFER has no influence on what IS.

  • Godfrey - 2012-03-05 16:16

    There is no difference between the current homophobes and the christian racist bigots who supported slavery 150 years ago and Apartheid more recently. Christian racists now wish to apply the same discrimination against homosexuals and other people who differ from them. The bigotry and cruelty is identical. When some religious people want to use ancient texts to justify acting upon their prejudices, citing the book of Leviticus suits them just fine. On the other hand, when such people want to indulge in practices prohibited by those same ancient texts, ignoring the bible suits them just fine. For example, Leviticus. Particularly the bit about no tattoos. It's amusing stuff. I frequently wonder why, among the many rules and prescriptions therein, Christians don't sacrifice oxen or go to the "priest" to be inspected for "white marks". It's all there, right next to the warning regarding the abomination of homosexuality. Fortunately, civilisation is moving on and away from bronze age superstitions. In the not too distant future the overwhelming majority of people will look upon such hatemongers with distaste and members of weird and dangerous fringe cults.

      Craig - 2012-03-05 17:03

      Godfrey, I agree whole-heartedly regarding racist bigots. However, in as far as the basis of any spiritual expression should be compassion and tolerance, I think you should be more specific about who you target in your tirade. No doubt, as we learn more about the complexities of human interaction and human behaviour, organised religion as we know it will slowly transform into a more holistic representation of this new-found enlightenment. Until then, I politely suggest you refrain from imposing your own world-view on millions of souls who call themselves religious, yet are not the racist bigots that you are so quick to assume they are. You run the risk of removing the sacred, or the truly spiritual, from life, and when nothing is sacred, everything is for sale. Perhaps you don't believe anything is sacred? It is your right to believe what you want, but I suggest you only have to look around at the marvellous complexity of life, or the trust in a child's eyes, to know that something truly awe-inspiring is in front of us. Not a sky-fairy, as you have been known to say, but nevertheless something quite esoteric, something bigger than ourselves. And humanity needs something bigger than itself to live for, to strive for. Temper your words with some compassion, for we are all together on this planet, whether we like it or not. Real change comes from deep understanding. Go well.

      Godfrey - 2012-03-05 19:47

      "No doubt, as we learn more about the complexities of human interaction and human behaviour, organised religion as we know it will slowly transform". What you are saying then is that you will change religion to suit the latest fashions. You will mold it to suit whatever you think your god should be. So what's new, you guys have been doing that for centuries. "removing the sacred, or the truly spiritual, from life". What on earth is that supposed to mean? I sense you are making a special pleading. Please define sacred. "temper your words with some compassion". No. not unless you can provide some evidence for the truth of any religion. Do you expect me to treat the beliefs of al qaeda with compassion? You are not thinking clearly. You are simply pleading for unquestioning respect. While I will respect you I will not give the same courtesy to unfounded beliefs.

      Godfrey - 2012-03-05 19:47

      @CraigB Further, I understand some people feel sad when they see a figure they were taught as a child to revere, whether Prophet or Pope, being subjected to rational examination, or mockery, or criminal investigation. But everyone has ideas they hold precious. Only you, the religious, demand to be protected from debate or scrutiny that might discomfort you. The fact you believe an invisible supernatural being approves of, or even commands, your behaviour doesn't mean it deserves more respect, or sensitive handling. It means it deserves less. If you base your behaviour on such a preposterous fantasy, you should expect to be checked by criticism and mockery. You need it.

      Craig - 2012-03-06 06:44

      Godfrey, You make the mistake of assuming I am religious. I am not. I never go to church. I don't believe in the Christian concept of God. I despise the politics and machinations of organised religion. But I do respect someone else's right to believe in this. Even more importantly, I believe that only petty, scared people need to hurt others by mocking and denigrating their beliefs. You come on this News24 forum a lot, and you never have a single nice thing to say about anybody or anything. Worse, if someone does not believe the same things you believe, you pour venomous scorn all over them. So yes, I repeat my suggestion that you temper your words with compassion, because a man who cannot be compassionate even to those with whom he violently disagrees is dead inside and deserves my compassion. I am sorry you have no understanding of what sacred means. Only through living life and experiencing all its beauty and horror does one appreciate what sacred means. Nothing religious. Rather, something eternal and immutable. Again, go well.

      Godfrey - 2012-03-06 10:01

      @CraigB "I believe that only petty, scared people need to hurt others by mocking and denigrating their beliefs". I happen to also be ok with people wanting to believe in a god or two. They can go right ahead. Worship him/her/it in their homes and churches. Find all the comfort they want from their faith communities, their hymns and their rituals. But while they are at it, they must consider keeping their god out of my community’s science curriculum (i.e., intelligent design/creationism). And out of the country’s medical agenda (i.e., stem cell research, abortion and contraception). And out of the country’s laws. Most atheists are happy to live and let live, But, as long as believers insist on pushing their religion into our lives, we have no choice but to push it right back. AND Because people are killed because of their belief in God. Because people kill others because of their belief in God. Because bad public policy decisions are made because people want to follow a God’s will instead of relying on common sense and decency.

      Craig - 2012-03-06 10:18

      @Godfrey, I fear you are lumping all religious folk into one category, and that's both unfair and detracts from the rest of your argument. In any case, in truth do religious people really push their dogma into your life? I mean, to the extent that it prevents you from exercising any of your own rights? Maybe, if you grew up in a religious household, then that happened to you when you were younger, but in your life at the moment can you honestly say religion invades your life? I am assuming here that no one you know has been killed by religion, or killed for religion. I am also assuming that no policy decisions have been made due to religion which directly influence your life? Even not being able to buy alcohol on a Sunday is hardly an inconvenience. A little bit of forethought on a Saturday afternoon, and less thirsty mates, and Bob is your proverbial uncle. You are free to do whatever you want, from having a beer or sex outside marriage, or eating the sciatic nerve of a fish upside down in a taxi on a Sunday...I can go have a beer or stand around a braai with certain mates who are born-again headcases. It takes all my wit not to laugh out loud and tear their argument down with science and logic, but it's not about my wit or lack of it. It's about respect, pure and simple. And they are my friends and good people. So I must choose between my ego and my friends. I know which one I choose.

      Godfrey - 2012-03-06 12:36

      @CraigB Ok, bit of extra info, I just happened to have grown up in Pretoria when the Christian National Apartheid regime was at it most comfortable, arrogant and fascist. Books banned, films banned or censored, plays shut down for blasphemy, people arrested for being in possession of a Playboy, people jailed for sex across the colour bar, people harassed and arrested and for being of the wrong skin colour (the offspring of Ham), people jailed for having abortions, school history books written from a Christian National point of view, etc. So I am well versed in how religion tries to impose its primitive superstitions on society and, given half a chance, it always does. Just recently we had the weirdo Catholics demanding the end to freely available abortion. And all crowing that they stopped a porn channel on Top TV. Look at what the creotards in the US would do if they get the chance. I know these guys. I have seen them in action; up close and personal. Of course they want to suppress criticism. They actually want blasphemy to be made illegal. So, no. I will continue to call them out and do my damnedest to prevent them trying to do it again. Remember who was responsible for the Dark Ages.

  • Alex - 2012-03-05 16:17

    Thanks for a brilliant, well written article. Can only wish i could live in Riverdale, sounds like a great place

  • Angela - 2012-03-05 16:34

    'I grew up in a tolerant and unbiased environment, and I turned out tolerant and unbiased, but still straight. I believe there’s no inherent RISK in exposing children to these notions from birth.' Double-minded much?

      Alex - 2012-03-05 16:46

      What are you trying to say? She is is saying theres no risk, how does that make her double minded?

      Georgina - 2012-03-05 20:20

      Gah! I don't believe there's any risk because I believe that people are either straight or gay no matter how they are raised. And I've made it clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with being gay. In my mind, I was debating with the Moms and I was echoing their sort of phraseology in the construction of my argument. Sorry if what I said was taken in any other way.

      KeenanMag - 2012-03-06 10:38

      Angela, you are doing exactly what religious fundamentalists do... nit-picking and twisting text, trying to change their meanings to suit your agenda. GET IT! Georgina SUPPORTS this. Fool.

  • Steven - 2012-03-05 19:07

    Some mothers would rather their Gay child use a girl, get married to her, all the while not loving her, have children, and all for the sake of being accepted. This wife has lost her chance of true love and happiness, from a straight man. What happens when this Gay man decides he's had enough satisfying his parents (usually after they die) and leaves his family to move on to his true choice in life! What if your child was being USED just to be accepted? What one sows, so shall they reap.

      Jo.Davies123 - 2012-03-06 09:41

      The problem is still "what will the pastor say?" and "what about the neighbours!" Steven I agree 100% with your statement. There are thousands of unhappy people living a lie out there, and there spouses almost always find out.

  • beryl.knipe - 2012-03-06 03:47

    "And in general, it has a lot to do with the fact that I believe that what people get up to is their own business, and that we have no right to judge or condemn anyone as long as they’re not hurting others." If it's their OWN BUSINESS - why not keep it to themselves? I don't believe that people "judge" or "condemn" but like homosexuals who CONDEMN "the world" with their opinions - surely heterosexuals also have their opinion?

      Godfrey - 2012-03-06 04:28

      "If it's their OWN BUSINESS - why not keep it to themselves"? Wouldn't it be wonderful if sky daddy believers did the same.

      Alex Panicco - 2012-03-06 07:24

      And if only people had kept quiet about their opinions on slavery, or womens lib or apartheid or child labour. Wouldn't that have been better then??

  • Daveu - 2012-03-06 08:16

    What a load of crap,

      Phoenix - 2012-03-06 15:04

      Ag ou Dave. Hope for your kids' sake none of them are gay. But then again YOU won't have gay kids, now would you? ;)

  • Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-03-06 23:02

    Georgina is spot on that Homosexuality isnt as complex as people are trying to make it out to be. The fact is, they are here and they arent going anywhere. Educating your child about different people in the world really is a no-brainer. In the 21st Century every parent should really jut tell their child to avoid 'those awkward moments'. But ultimately I think its just thr sad reality the often (but not always) religious people (of all religions) tend to refuse to acknowledge and respect that other people are different from them. All this can be solved by understanding one concept, 'Whatever makes you sleep at night.'

      Alex - 2012-03-07 13:42

      big thumbs up to your way of thinking!!

  • Brett - 2012-03-07 10:25

    Comics sure have changed since I was a kid...

      alyn.adams - 2012-03-07 12:44

      Yeah; there's lots more diversity, and not simply cookie-cutter copies of some authoritarian view of a "proper society" – isn't it GREAT?

      Alex - 2012-03-07 13:43

      yep, its called moving with the times!! Wish people would do the same...

  • Paul R. Gonsalves - 2012-03-11 08:52

    Can't believe I wasted my time reading this article

  • Paul R. Gonsalves - 2012-03-11 09:05

    It's kinda ironic when Christians get lambasted, insulted, their religion, beliefs and God mocked and attacked for their views and for their lack of understanding and tolerance. These are the very actions that SOME pro-gay's r accusing the Christians of, or does it make it right because 'the Christians started it'. Is it justified to stereotype the Christian community and make generalized statements about their beliefs, again very ironic, don't u think. How do u ask for tolerance but ur not willing to be tolerant when others do not support or share ur views.

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