Some of us were rebellious Barts, some were learned Lisas and some — probably more than would like to admit it — were Milhouses. When most of us first saw The Simpsons we were too young to grasp the social commentary, but we nonetheless found much to relate to in the popular cartoon.
That is, except for Morris Fox. Growing up, he didn’t develop much of an affinity for the show. From creepy Smithers to John, the owner of the campy collectibles shop (the character voiced by John Waters), all Fox saw was gay stereotypes.
It’s easy to imagine Fox sitting with a group of straight friends, grumbling to himself while they watch the show and laugh, his only satisfaction coming from his secret crush on Groundskeeper Willie. “He was so ripped,” Fox says wistfully.
When Lindsay Cahill announced she was putting on a Simpsons-themed exhibit, called Homer’s Odyssey: A Simpsons Art Show, Fox saw his chance for revenge. Most of the 23 artists — who are contributing everything from poetry to video to fabric work — will be intensely fanboying and fangirling, but Fox is bringing balance to his universe by gaying up The Simpsons.
His contribution is called I’m Gay for The Simpsons. It comprises a set of 13 trading cards, each with a unique illustration based on a scene from the show. There are 13 copies of each of the 13 cards, and they’ll be jumbled together and given out on opening night. “You’ll get packages and you won’t know what will be in them; like you might have five of the same and the rest different. My hope is that people will trade them to get complete sets,” Fox says.
“[The illustrations themselves are] based on my experiences of growing up and being queer,” he says. “Like awkward moments where you have best friends and are suddenly like, ‘I think I love you’ and stuff like that.” So, in Fox’s illustrations you get things like Bart and Milhouse as dysfunctional lovers and the bullies looking at gay porn.
Fox set out to get revenge, but The Simpsons may be getting some revenge of its own. “To do this project, I think I’ve rewatched 150 episodes, and I think I might be a fan now. It’s a lot funnier than when I originally watched it,” Fox says.