Back in the 90s, I attempted to write a gay character in my self-published comic. Problem was, I couldn't decide whether I wanted her gay or straight so I guess you could say she ended up being bi. I had in mind a future sub-plot where she would meet an actual lesbian and have a relationship with her, but that never happened. It's just as well, because it probably would have been crap. I didn't know a great deal about gay culture back then, so at times my character tended to fall back into stereotype. If I were to write her today, not only would she be completely different, my approach to writing her would be completely different.
I wouldn't say I was ever afraid of gays, but I was definitely ignorant about them in a lot of ways. That changed later in the decade when I spent about four years working directly with an older gay man. He was basically a decent guy (though he was far from perfect). We worked at a video store with an excellent selection of classic and independent and foreign films, and through both him and certain films we would watch together in the store, I got quite an education, which I'm grateful for.
One of, if not the most, important things that gave me a deeper insight on what it means to be gay is without a doubt the graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. It's my all-time favorite graphic novel for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it made me realize the notion of "civil rights" applies to more than just African-Americans.
I was greatly disappointed to learn that a significant proportion of the Prop 8 supporters were blacks
, because it showed a startling lack of perspective on their part. There is the factor of religious beliefs involved, of course, and that's one hurdle that seems insurmountable (especially when you consider the Mormons' activism for Prop 8
). To that, all I can say is that I believe education is the best solution. If someone is willing to do what it takes to understand why equality for gays is worth fighting for, I think it's entirely possible that an understanding could be reached... and I hope that includes a certain president-elect.
And oh yeah, raise a glass to the late gay gift shop An Open Book. I only went in there maybe two or three times total, but I liked it. It's a shame that it's gone.