ROGUE ELEMENT 100

Rogue Element #100: Gay Marriage – A Right to Life


By Avril Brown

A few weeks ago with the footsteps of my 100th Rogue Element column here at Comics Waiting Room drawing ever closer, my eternally awesome editor told me whatever I choose to write about for my milestone column, it should be something special; something that evokes passion and has personal meaning. I thought long and hard about what I would pen for my centennial entry, feeling it should be as iconic as its numerical designation.

‘What is happening right now that resonates so strongly with me, both in comics and reality, that I want to shout it from the rooftops?’ I wondered. ‘What is screaming inside of me to be heard?’ Eventually it dawned on me: though I came out as bisexual in one of my earliest columns and discussed my joy at seeing a variety of sexual orientations being represented in comics and pop culture, I never really spelled out how staunchly I support LGBT rights, particularly when it comes to gay marriage.

I support gay marriage. I strongly, wholeheartedly and with every fiber of my bisexual, comic-loving, tattoo-addicted soul believe gay marriage should be legalized. I believe in the right to love, and the right to live openly with that love. I believe in the basic human right to be with the person you want to be with, whether they have the same genitalia, different skin color or a twenty year age difference. I believe in the freedom of falling in love.

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted: “Gay marriage is a divisive issue that separates intelligent people from idiots.” While I would not put it quite so bluntly, I cannot say I necessarily disagree. As it relates to almost all things in life, I have staked my tent in the ‘To Each Their Own’ camp, which means whatever you believe in, as long as you do not hurt anyone else and/or you do not try and force your beliefs on anyone, is fair game. Roughly translated, if you believe being gay is a sin, but you’re not holding a sign that says ‘God hates fags’ or penning a petition keeping a couple in love from saying ‘I do,’ well, knock yourself out. Can’t say I agree with you, but I will not try and forcibly change your opinion. The idiots are those who are trying to deny basic rights to people they do not know based on their own conceptions that have absolutely nothing to do with the people who wish to marry.

Legalizing gay marriage is not about bring the haters into the rainbow light, it is about the right to live, and love, without fear or discrimination. Marriage is a legally binding, federally recognized contract allowing couples access to rights denied to those in a partnership or civil union. Two of my mother’s closest friends, a heterosexual couple, were madly in love and together for years before tying the knot, and what finally pushed them down the aisle was hepatitis and the complications involved. Every time he landed in the hospital because of this disease, there were roadblocks with regards to paperwork, decisions and visitation rights due to their unmarried status. They finally married (due in some part to my mother and other friends’ severe scoldings) and he received a liver transplant, simply one step on his road to better health, but their ‘grow old together happy ending’ was stolen from them by ovarian cancer. Though their years together were cut tragically short, he was at least able to be by her side for the entire fight, holding her hand, cheering her on, doing everything he possibly could until they were forced to say goodbye.

Even writing this while remembering their love and loss, I cry. Can you even imagine how this would feel to them and to those who knew of their commitment to one another if they were not allowed to be together in the hospital? There are couples everywhere, everyday, suffering this agony. My parents’ friends, who became my friends as I aged into some semblance of maturity, solved this problem by getting married. One white dress, lots of flowers, a small ceremony coupled with a big party and viola, their legal drama was resolved. In almost every state of the so-called Land of the Free, gay couples are denied such a luxury and thereby often denied the basic human right of holding the love of their life as their time on Earth ends.

Again, legalizing gay marriage is not about asking people who are against it to change their minds. I personally feel that homo and bisexuality is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of, but there are those who feel it is against their religion, or a crime against nature, or whatever excuse people are conjuring up nowadays. Fine, whatever, take your reasons and clutch them tightly to your chest, but do not force others to share your opinion. Queers do not want to marry you; the gay community has no secret agenda to turn the world fabulous by preaching their same-sex-loving ways via marrying their partners. What LGBT people want is what anyone wants: the freedom of choice.

The Marvel Comics Universe has been home to openly gay characters since at least the early nineties and has dropped very insinuating hints about not-so-open characters years before that, but the One Who Came Out First will also (hopefully) be the first gay Marvel character to walk down the aisle with his partner. Jean-Paul Beaubier aka Northstar was the first mainstream American superhero (even though he’s French-Canadian) to come out of the closet, and if all goes well with the next couple of issues of ‘Astonishing X-Men’ he’ll be marrying his long-time boyfriend Kyle. I say ‘if all goes well’ because you never can tell with superhero weddings. Jean-Paul and Kyle could last years, like Scott and Jean Summers before the former started a psychic affair with Emma Frost right before Jean died for the third time (oh, comics!), or it could go horribly awry, like Alex Summers and Lorna Dane’s attempt at nuptials, called to a halt because of his (temporary) love for his nurse and her (temporary) insanity. (What IS it with these Summers men?)

Whether Jean-Paul and Kyle’s wedding is to be or not to be, the point is that it could be. Archie Comics published a landmark issue only a couple of months ago where one of its characters got married to his partner. A white military man wed his black boyfriend in Archie Comics and it sold out across the country despite multiple protests. Now Marvel Comics, one of the largest and best-selling names in the comics biz, has thrown its hat into the gay marriage ring declaring as it did twenty years ago, ‘We’re here, some of us and our readers are queer, get used to it.’

When President Barack Obama declared his support of gay marriage, I have never been so proud to having cast a vote. I avoid politics as a general rule; quite frankly I simply do not understand half the shit that politicians say, and I could give a shit about the other half…for the most part. What I truly care about, and what I stand behind, is basic human rights. Our elected leader, one of the most renown and powerful people on the planet, is nevertheless on shaky ground due in part to the ever-shifting sand of the American people’s opinions and his own waffling agendas, and yet he shook his ground further by taking a stand. He voiced his opinion, and for better or worse, he cannot change what he put out there into the world, or more relevantly thanks to modern media, the internet.

Whether it be Marvel Comics or the Oval Office, I will always have a happy song in my heart, head and soul at hearing we as a people are one step closer to acceptance. Only sixty years ago in this country people were protesting the right for mixed-race couples to marry, sixty years before that it was the women’s right to vote, and decades before that it was freedom from slavery. Humans, as history writes it, will never learn from our previous mistakes, at least not enough to avoid them entirely. Here’s hoping we can at least learn from them faster than we did before and avoid, to the best our abilities, the heartache, humiliation and humbleness that comes from a lesson much needed learning.

THE HAPPY PRINCE

FAIRY TALES OF OSCAR WILDE VOL.5: THE HAPPY PRINCE
Written by Oscar Wilde
Adapted and Illustrated by P. Craig Russell
Published by NBM


Reviewed by Marc Mason

A happy prince who lived his life in a whirl of entertainment and decadence is now remembered solely by the statue erected in his honor in the city where he lived. With eyes made of sapphire and a coating of gold, he stands in direct opposition to the turmoil and poverty holding sway over his former subjects. But the soul within the statue catches the ear of a swallow heading south for the winter and engages him in an effort to stem the overwhelming pain and suffering of the city’s denizens. Ultimately, both bird and statue will give far more to the people than they could have ever imagined.

That this work would be spectacular is almost a given. Wilde is one of the greatest storytellers history has to offer us, and P. Craig Russell is one of the true giants working in the comics field today. Over a distinguished, decades-long career, he has done it all, and it has all looked incredible. HAPPY PRINCE is no different. Rich in color and opulent in detail, this hardcover presentation of his work offers up an amazing opportunity to enjoy what makes him such an amazing talent. And with the nice, large size, you can really study the pages and panels, examine the storytelling choices he makes, and get a grasp on just how effective sequential art can be in presenting all types of material to an audience.

HAPPY PRINCE also has an interesting undercurrent to it, the story resonating with the current issues of class that are prominent in our society these days. Wilde never uses the words “the one percent” but you don’t have to dig very deep when reading the story to see that conceptually, his words still ring of truth in 2012.

This is an outstanding piece of work, well worth your time and money, whether you’re a Wilde fan, a Russell fan, or just want to try something new.

CHEW 26

CHEW #26
Written by John Layman and Illustrated by Rob Guillory
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Avril Brown

The latest issue of CHEW does slow down quite a bit in terms of action, but this is expected given the explosive conclusion to the last story arc which landed our hero Tony Chu in the ICU. Focusing more on two of the other Chu’s, Toni and Chow, ‘Space Cakes Part One’ is more of a character-focused stand alone book, much like its second part aka Issue #27 which was published over a year ago. Though they can be read separately and be understood and enjoyed (apart from a scene between Toni and her boss Paneer in issue #26 which does explain a few things in her monologue to Tony in #27), I still for the life of me do not understand whether or not there was a particular point to publishing #27 out of order. Guess that’s CHEW for you.

Chow, the obnoxious cooking guru Chu, has had quite enough of Barnabus Cremini, a former colleague and now a persistent pain in the ass, so he recruits his sister Toni in a revenge scenario. Though she is a top agent at NASA and usually pretty busy, Toni has reason to avoid her office this day as things are bound to be a frosty between her and her superior after she took extreme measures to determine his sincerity. We learn more about Chow and Toni’s relationship and their individual general quirks, fleshing them out more and making Chow a teensy bit more likable. A new villain is created as well, and signs point to readers seeing him again in the future.

As always, check the background for interesting nuggets of random, such as the painting in Cremini’s hallway. And readers should hold onto to their hats because the next issue will be jam-packed with Poyo, the most deadly rooster in the world and Colby’s new partner in the USDA.