An Ongoing Conversation

By | Tuesday, October 18, 2022 Leave a Comment
A lot of has been made in the news lately on LGBTAQIA+ issues generally and with a heavy focus on trans rights over the past 6-12 months in particular. And it spills over into comics via non-binary characters or creators who even suggest trans people exist. The so-called "Moms for Liberty" group has been particuarly active at local levels, trying to get graphic novels banned from schools and libaries. You've might've seen it come up on your social media feeds or heard about it on NPR or something. And you might be thinking to yourself, "Where the hell did all of this come from all of a sudden?" Why are people pressing so hard now for all this?

The thing is, though, it's not new and it's not all of a sudden.

The Gaylactic Network
You ever hear of the Gaylactic Network? They're a science fiction fan group with chapters from San Diego to Washington, DC. And, as you might well guess from the name, the group is about supporting LGBTQ creators and fans. (Strictly speaking, all of the Gaylatic Network materials I can find only cite "LGBTQ" and not "LGBTQIA+" or any other variations, so I'm only citing who they themselves claim to represent. In any event...) There are local meetings to support things at a community level, and they host Gaylaxicon at a national level and hold the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards, "given annually for outstanding LGBT content in sci-fi, fantasy and horror genre publications." Even if you haven't heard of any of this before, you're not especially surprised, right? I mean, it's 2022 and the Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is the law of the land, so you'd expect a group like this exists.

They were founded in 1987. 1987. That's 35 years ago. A third of a century. And that's just the oldest formal fan group I happen to know off the top of my head, without having done much research. I don't doubt there were earlier ones.

Turtel Onli has been a central figure for trying to coalesce the Black comics community in the Chicago area. He started writing/drawing his NOG comics back in 1979. In 1993, he pulled together the Black Age of Comics convention in Chicago, and it's been hosted in other years everywhere from Los Angeles to Detroit. 1993, you'll recall, was also the year that Milestone Comics started. That's nearly three decades ago.

What you're seeing now isn't new and it's not sudden. These discussions have been going on for decades. The difference now is that social media has reached a saturation point where you (the middle-aged cishetero white guy) are seeing the conversations that are scrolling through your one minority friend's feed. Your neat and tidy social circles haven't exactly collapsed, but the borders between them have substantially blurred.

This isn't a new conversation. You're just now becoming aware of it.
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