Last year, Archie comics caused a stir when they introduced their first gay character — Kevin Keller. Now, the recent announcement that Keller will get married in the January issue has sparked off an international debate. While many feel the first gay wedding in Riverdale marks a milestone, there are some who think it’s an unnecessary move by the publishers.
“The mainstream hetero-sexual community may feel the need to debate because they don’t know much about the gay community. Yes, debating is good, but one must be willing to digest the other point of view,” says Shobhna S Kumar, founder-director of Queer Ink, an online retail site for books on gay themes. Jatin Verma, founder of Comic Con India, says, “I don’t see any harm in introducing a gay wedding in Archie, considering it’s legal in many parts of the US. I don’t see any reason why people should get offended!”
Fans are also excited. “It’s a wonderful idea, but I’m unsure about the response from Indian readers. Archie comics, in a way, introduced concepts like dating to young ones, then why not this?,” says Deepak Chennakkadan, 18, a diehard Archie fan. Jasleen Singh, 21, a Delhi University student, says, “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a cool twist to the usual predictable stuff, I must say. I am really looking forward to reading it.” Swaha Kumar, 24, a gay rights supporter, says, “If a comic book as widely accepted and popular as Archie is promoting the concept, I am sure this will pave the way for positive change in society.”
However, there are some who disagree. “It’s unfortunate that a comic book series usually seen as depicting innocent, all-American life is now being used to advance the sexual revolution,” said Peter Spriggs, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council — a Washington DC-based lobbying organisation promoting Christian views, in an interview to Fox News. “I don’t know how much it will help in India. Here, we are far from the marriage topic, we are right now asking for equal rights,” says Mohnish Kabir Malhotra, gay rights activist.
Iconic characters going the gay way
Batman: Ever since the 50s, there has been speculation that the superhero is gay, and possibly in a relationship with his sidekick Robin. Several female characters in the modern age Batman comic books are lesbian.
Spider-Man: A few months ago, Marvel Comics had revealed that Spider-Man has been given a makeover as an Afro-Latino. The creators have said that in the future they would not rule out making him gay.
Sherlock Holmes: A new tele version of Sherlock Holmes hints at a relationship between the detective and his sidekick Watson. The pair also have a meal in London’s gay district Soho.