June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month. LGBTQIA+ is an acronym used in the Library’s collection policy statement to signify lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to highlight titles and anthologies within our collection that either include queer characters, were created by LGBTQIA+ talent and creators, or serve as memorable firsts in comics history.
Why does LGBTQIA+ representation in comics matter? In an interview with Reading with Pictures (a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy through the use of comics in the classroom), Sarah Elkins, a panromantic asexual writer who’s worked in comics since 2008, states:
“It’s important to have different identities represented in comics because it not only helps people feel like they’re not alone, helps to educate people who may be looking for the right words to describe themselves, and also helps to inform people of other orientations and identities. Representation in comics helps people overall become more accepting of one another including themselves.”
- When the character of Batwoman (aka Kate Kane) was revealed in the spring of 2006 (52,#11), her lesbian sexual orientation was announced at the same time.
- Miss America, aka America Chavez, is Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQIA+ character to star in an ongoing series.
- The first appearance of a same-sex wedding in mainstream comics is featured in Astonishing X-Men, #51 (August 2012). In this issue, written by Marjorie Liu, superhero Northstar weds his longtime partner Kyle Jinadu.
- Created by writer/artist Dan Parent, Kevin Keller is the first gay character to appear in the Archie Comics universe and premiered in Veronica #202, published in September 2010.
Love Is Love: A Comic Book Anthology – In this book, the “comic book industry comes together to support the survivors and honor those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. Writers and artists from across the globe have created exclusive new material expressing their sorrow, compassion, frustration, and hope, all inspired by the tragic event. In doing so, they celebrate the victims, survivors, and their families while also spreading a message of peace and inclusion” — page 4 of cover.
Others include (but are certainly not limited to): Be Gay, Do Comics (public library) from The Nib; Qu33r; Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Anthology; Gay Genius: Comics; and Embodied: An Intersectional Feminist Comics Poetry Anthology (find it in a public library).
Items from the Library’s Small Press Expo Collection:
Tender-Hearted is a collection of autobiographical comics and Melodica contains themes that focus heavily on LGBTQIA+ subjects and issues and is written for a young adult audience. Other favorites include Robot Tot, Secure Connect, and I Love This Part.
As the Crow Flies – A webcomic by Melanie Gillman is a story about Charlie — a queer 13-year-old girl who finds herself stranded in a dangerous place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. It has been nominated for the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize (2013) and an Eisner Award (2014).
What’s Normal Anyway? A webcomic About Being Trans Male is a comic that discusses the trans male experience through the story of Mel, who takes the big risk of being himself and transitioning from female to male. This comic aims to add another voice representing a part of the wide spectrum of human diversity.
More LGBTQIA+ standouts to consider:
- Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond “Gay” and “Straight.” Edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen; foreword by Carol Queen, Ph.D.; endpapers by John Lustig. Seattle, WA: Northwest Press, 2013.
- A Survey of Queer Looks. Edited by Zora Gilbert & Cat Parra. Pittsburgh, PA: Margins Publishing, 2018.
- Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition. Julia Kaye. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2018.
- The Life and Times of Butch Dykes: Portraits of Artists, Leaders, and Dreamers Who Changed the World. Eloisa Aquino. Portland, OR: Microcosm Publishing, 2019.
Do you have any favorite comics of your own? Please let us know in the comments! And Happy Pride!