One of my favorite comics of all time, 9 Chickweed Lane, is currently irritating me greatly. Let me explain. In the current story arc,Seth, a character who identifies as gay, is taking it upon himself to inform another character, Roger, who is married with many children, thatRoger is also gay. Family members of Roger are variously surprised that Roger hasn't figured it out for himself.
Now, this is offensive to me. I find it incredibly insulting that having a character presume to dictate to another person what that second person's sexuality should be is used for humor. The gay community has dealt with this sort of thing for...ever, actually. Many a gay person has been told they could just be straight, they really are straight, if only they'd realize it. And that's insulting. It's no less insulting when the situation is reversed. Seriously, I would not consider doing such a thing or even offering it as a joke to tell someone what their sexual identity should be. It is deeply wrong.
It offends me, too, because usually 9 Chickweed lane is perceptive, sharp, and aware. Mr. McEldowney has impressed me for years with his story lines, his sharp jokes about everything from politics to religion to cats, and yet here he seems to have a giant blind spot. That "everyone" (well, one person so far, but that character is a stand in) proclaims to know Roger's sexuality better than he does is just more mud.
Seriously, I'm of the opinion that, all other things being equal, how someone chooses to identify is his or her own damned business. If someone wants to live a life of denial, well, that is his or her right, just as it is someone's right to say "I'm gay", "I'm bi", "I'm transexual" or even "I'm straight". It's not up to anyone else to dictate, to walk over and say "Hey, you are gay."
You know, in many situations, that's considered bullying, and there's a lot of outcry about it. But, in this case, the character doing the bullying is also gay, openly and apparently happily. This gay character tried living in denial for a while but came out to himself and the world, and yay for him. It would be nice if such things were non issues, if someone's sexuality was like someone's eye color, just another factor of identity without particular judgment attached. But the particular behavior being used here is so very wrong, no matter how it's being couched for purposes of humor, that I find myself just shaking with anger about it.
However, being gay does not give one any more carte blanche to dictate sexuality to others than being straight does. It simply isn't acceptable in any case. It isn't "context appropriate". Gay people are insulted, bullied, tormented and made miserable by this very behavior and if it's wrong to try to make gay people be straight, then the reverse is also wrong. That should be obvious.
Anyway, I'm angry about it and I wish I could tell Mr. McEldowney that. I was holding out a little hope that he was going to make the very same point I am making and have Roger get up on Seth about Seth's control freak, presumptuous, bullying ways, but today's strip took that possibility off the table and made me think that Mr. McEldowney thinks that it's perfectly fine and appropriate behavior without considering the ramifications of it.
Yeah, I take my comics quite seriously.