An Education In LGBTQ And Allies For Pride Month
Well, what an interesting start to Pride Month it's been so far in the world of comics. From the controversies with artist Berliac to Howard Chaykin and Image Comics on The Divided States of Hysteria, what more could there be in the first week?
Popping outside of comics for a moment, clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire for a Pride Month tweet, which they have since deleted, that read "the pride community is everybody, not just LGBTQ people." Which is a sign of rather missing the point.
Well, as part of Jamie Me's weekly Comic Book Hour, wherein people can follow the hashtag and see answers to questions on the comic industry from a range of sources — indie creators, self-published, pros, and retailers — all get involved. This week, naturally, had an LGBTQ bent, and featured for its second question: "Who are the influential #LGBTQ creators you look up to?" This got the following response from Nottingham-based comics store Page 45.
As with the Abercrombie & Fitch tweet, my immediate thought, as someone who is actually part of the LGBTQ community and a comics creator, was that they replied to a question asking for LGBTQ creators with an answer of non-LGBTQ creators — completely missing the point. An opinion shared by fellow Bleeding Cool writer Kaitlyn Booth:
Understandable point to make: Allies are hugely important to have in any movement. But if we look at it from a different context, say about "Who are the most influential black writers in comics?" I would not be right to answer "Brian Michael Bendis" because he wrote Luke Cage and Miles Morales.
Placing allies above actual LGBTQ people is not beneficial to the LGBTQ experience or the fight for rights and acceptance, which we continued to try to explain:
As Kaitlyn points out, we were not out to attack, but educate. It seemed evident that Page 45 did not give their answer out of malice or disregard, and as they say themselves, they are very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and creators. They are well known as a very progressive comic store. In fact, they have later gone on to clarify the store is around half LGBTQ in terms of staff too!
However, still, to place non-LGBTQ creators ahead of actual LGBTQ creators, when the question specifically asked for LGBTQ creators, feels a little off-topic.
This is important to bear in mind during Pride Month. While the work of allies is valued and hugely important, Pride Month is not for the allies. It is for the LGBTQ community, who face hardships that allies simply do not face. Yes, standing up for the rights of a group you are not a part of, or creating comics featuring representation for groups you have no personal vested interest in is hugely important and greatly appreciated — but it should never be at the expense or invalidation of those actually going through the experience.
Well, it would seem that Page 45 weren't too happy with a little well-meaning education and discussion on the topic:
For the record, neither me nor Kaitlyn, or anyone else I had seen responding to Page 45's original tweet, accused them of being LGBTQ unfriendly. Nor do I think it's fair to be called "idiots" for wishing to educate from my position as someone who is part of the community too. But despite the response, it's worth checking out their thread here, as there's some great reviews of some awesome books with LGBTQ themes or actually by creators who are a part of the community.
So hey, just keep it in mind this Pride Month, and any time: when asked about LGBTQ people, in any way, maybe don't respond with those who are not.