Georgina Guedes

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/ 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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