Now that Striker is OUT and PROUD, we’re starting to hear the fallout from the religious right. I’m not surprised. With all the amazing leaps forward in the inclusion of LGBT characters in popular culture (comics especially of course), it’s inevitable that the usual suspects get their devoted Christian panties in a bunch about it. Issue #26 of Avengers Academy, Stryker’s sexuality is a 2 panel bit in an all-story no action character piece leading up to a crossroads moment. But the letters page is devoted to a well spoken, albeit ignorant ill-informed letter from a Mr. Jerry Smith of Erlanger Kentucky and a fantastic response from Writer Christos Gage.
Among other things Mr. Smith suggests Mr. Gage’s compassion would be better served by volunteering for a hotline or donating to an organization that helps kids with coming out. Jerry just doesn’t get it. What Mr. Gage is doing will help prevent the need for the hotlines in the first place. LGBT youth don’t all call hotlines when they should. Some keep their pain and misery inside until it becomes too much to bear. Revealing Stryker’s “alternate sexual lifestyle” and complicated history doesn’t just add ANOTHER gay character to the Marvel U. It lets LGBT kids out there see themselves mirrored in the pages of their favorite book and exposes straight readers to “what that gay kid they keep teasing at school” might be going through. It may even make future generations more likely to stand up for that kid being picked on… or even empower bullied kids to stand up for themselves.
Mr. Smith’s arguments and analogies all fall a bit short of their mark and are easily swatted by Gage’s rebuttal. Smith compares having a gay character in a “TEEN” rated superhero book about minors to “giving Little Orphan Annie AIDS.” While I get his point I think its off base in that Avengers Academy is not intended for ALL AGES the same way Lil Orphan Annie is. Now if the writers of Tiny Titans introduce Lil gay Bunker he’ll have a point. Until then, I agree with Christos Gage in saying that I’d put money down that Mr. Jerry Smith of Erlanger Kentucky has a problem with Homosexuality itself and not just with it’s inclusion in Avengers Academy. Gage also points out a number of characters in the Marvel U with strong religious beliefs as well as disproves Smith’s uninformed allegation that hetero romance (kissing) is rare in comics.
Only those with a “faith-based” disdain for Homosexuality see this sort of progress as a Political agenda. WE thanks Cristos Gage for his work on Striker and his letters page comments about the issues raised by the story. Read a copy of the letters page and an article about it here.
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