I am in favor of gay rights. Yet, today’s news is, well, a bit goofy. Is it possible that Ellery is not the progressive, tolerant Dude that I have cultivated? First some background…
20 years ago, my business partner, Gerry, and I walked across Central Park. We were wearing blue jeans—and for some reason that I don’t recall, we were horsing around and slapping each other on the back. Suddenly, a news photographer popped in front of us and took our photo. He wasn’t carrying a snapshot camera, but a big, professional photo-journalist camera. He may have asked permission to publish the photo—I don’t recall. We certainly would have given consent. Our company was undergoing venture financing. I figured the investors would get a lift by seeing their new partners in a story about the first day of summer, park beautification, or whatever.
But later, as we strolled toward a crowd on the far side of the park, we learned that this was Gay Pride Day. Overhead banners urged supporters to show their pride by wearing jeans (Don’t we all wear jeans?!). TV & news photographers zoomed in on men holding hands, butts or cuddling amongst the crowd. The next morning, Gerry and I were splashed across the front page of our nation’s newspapers. We were mortified! The caption didn’t identify us, but to our friends, colleagues and communities, we were presented as gay lovers. Outed…And we weren’t even members of the club!
I’m not gay and I doubt that Gerry is, either. At the time, I was beginning to turn away from five years of intolerance at college. As I matured, I not only mellowed, I came to abhor anti-gay activism. I became an advocate for ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, especially when it rears its head in law and public policy. Homophobia is not only callous and unfair, it arises from religious doctrine, a narrow minded perspective—or it indicates repressed homosexuality; that’s my favorite explanation.
Today, I am tolerant and progressive. I favor ratification of gay marriage (not just a “civil union”. That’s a whitewash). The time has come to recognize that this issue is more about personal freedom, expression and privacy—than about any legitimate right for a government to discriminate.
But now, DC comics has revealed that Green Lantern likes to French kiss his mate and cuddle with him as they walk down a street in Hong Kong(?!) Is it necessary for the stewards of our super heroes to turn the comics into a political statement? I realize that Superman has Lois Lane and Batman flirts with Bat Girl (N.B. Even she has been recast as a lesbian!). I am 100% comfortable about gays in every walk of life. Not just tolerating their presence, mind you. I honestly think that they add a rich cultural dimension to the fabric of society. But I am just a bit troubled that DC is using the issue to push back into everyone’s face and begin the desensitizing process within the pages of a super hero comic.
Look at the collage of cartoon frames released today by DC Comics (from the upcoming June 2012 issue, Green Lantern, Earth 2). Is this a distraction—or legitimate and non-political character development? Is it a reasonable part of the story line? To me, it seems like a subplot with an agenda. Even though the agenda is not offensive, I can’t quite justify it in this venue. I would be much more comfortable encountering it on the editorial pages, among my friends, and in books & films. Just, not within a DC comic. Does that make me a hypocrite? Honestly, I’m not sure. Tell me what you think?
The title suggests that Green Lantern has “come out of the closet”. Actually, the new issue shows him to have been openly gay all along. Additionally, the character is not Hal Jordan from 60s and 70s, a member of the Justice League. He is Alan Scott, a retro character from the early comics of the 1940s.