It’s been less than a year since Kevin Keller made history as the first gay character in Archie Comics. Well, the first overtly gay character.
As was convincingly argued in Kevin Smith’s groundbreaking flick Chasing Amy, “Archie was the bitch and Jughead was the butch. That’s why he was always going around wearing that crown-looking hat… He was the king of queen Archie’s world.”
Anyway, since September 2010, Kevin Keller has proved so popular that Archie Comics is giving him his own spinoff! Kevin Keller #1 hit the stands last week, beginning a four-issue series that explores his backstory as an army brat and how he came out to his father, Colonel Keller. Given how conservative and traditional the kiddie-friendly Archie books tend to be, this is a huge step forward.
And next month, Marvel Comics will publish a story dealing with gay teen suicides in the X-Men spinoff Generation Hope #9, shipping July 20. The issue tells the story of a young mutant who is outed as a mutant at school and, well, I assume you can figure out the rest.
X-Men, of course, is famously all about prejudice, difference, tolerance and self-acceptance. In fact, this isn’t the first time an X-Men spinoff has used mutants as a substitute for gay kids in a suicide story. That unfortunate honour goes to New Mutants #45 from 1985, in which teenage mutant Larry Bodine commits suicide after bullies discover his benign mutant powers and threaten to kill him. The eulogy Kitty Pride gives at Bodine’s funeral is a fantastic piece of writing; it was the first time since the X-Men were created in 1963 that the comparison to gay people was made explicit in the comics.