On stands today: Riverdale’s “hot new guy,” who’s gay. Yes, that Riverdale, home of Archie, Jughead, Betty, and now Kevin, who is really, really, not interested in Veronica. As comics fans first heard in the spring, “the most mainstream, Middle-American comic book” — which last made headlines with a good old-fashioned traditional marriage — has now officially gone the way of, well, actual communities with gay people in them. Win.
What’s extra-cool here, as Barbara Spindel reports in the Daily Beast, is how — how mellowly — the gayness is presented and framed. “After Kevin and Jughead enjoy some homosocial bonding at a hamburger-eating contest, Jughead warns the new kid that Veronica isn’t likely to stop pursuing him until he returns her flirtations. ‘It’s nothing against her. I’m gay,’ Kevin explains nonchalantly, showing how much more casual coming out has become since the X-Men superhero Northstar made headlines in 1992 with this clunky announcement: ‘For while I am not inclined to discuss my sexuality with people for whom it is none of their business — I am gay!’”
Also, Spindel notes, the fact that he’s gay does not become the plot. Instead, it gets absorbed right in as the basis of some true-to-Archie-world hijinks: “Far from being labored, Kevin’s coming out feels entirely relevant to a comic book about how teens relate. What’s more, Parent uses Kevin’s sexuality as an ingenious plot device that fits seamlessly within the well-worn Archie narrative. ‘Kevin is going to tell her that he’s gay, but Jughead tells him not to because he enjoys seeing Veronica making a fool of herself,’ [veteran Archie artist Dan Parent] explains. ‘Everyone knows he’s gay except Veronica. Betty doesn’t push it because she realizes if Veronica is chasing Kevin then she’s got the time for Archie.’”
Setting aside my only concern — Veronica’s gaydar clearly needs to go into the shop — what I also like here is the reminder of connection made between gayness and wholesomeness (if, indeed, wholesomeness is to be considered a worthy goal). Gay here (and in real life) does not (necessarily) equal subversive, alterna-, Adam Lambert, or “worse.” Why, the gays fit right in, see? That’s what always puzzled me, in a certain way, about the whole gay marriage thing. It’s like, “People. We scared you when we were flamboyant and counter culture. Now we’re trying to settle down, just like you, and you’re really freaked out?!”
Speaking of marriage — and perhaps the best news of all — Archie Comic Publications editor in chief Victor Gorelick noted to the Daily Beast that protest was much more vociferous when the news broke that Archie would marry Veronica. Perhaps we can look forward to seeing Riverdale celebrate the wedding of Kevin and, I don’t know, Steve?
You may know him from “How I Met Your Mother” or “School of Rock,” from his popular YouTube channel, or from his critically acclaimed, extended-run show at Hollywood’s Celebration Theater. Or you may know his sidekick, Lucas Coatney, from season 3 of Idol! He’s Ryan O’Connor, a self-described “big fat gay singing Kathy Griffin, and his big fat gay singing show, “Ryan O’Connor Eats His Feelings,” is coming soon — very soon — to a cabaret near you.
The show tells O’Connor’s life story through song and gab, covering his childhood and adolescence in conservative Arizona, his relationship with a Mormon ex-college-football star from Salt Lake City, and his lusts for everything from food to theater.
Our own Amy K. caught up with Ryan as he was preparing for his national tour’s June 7 launch in San Francisco (that’s Monday night!):
AK: Are gay breakups different from straight breakups?
RO: The truth is, gay breakups just tend to be more dramatic. But I’ve also noticed that the transition from boyfriend to friend is more prevalent in the gay community than the straight community. My boyfriend and I are always going out with exes of mine or exes of his. Truth be told, they’re usually his — I’m not as good at it. My breakups tend to be more abrupt. Besides, it’s not my favorite thing, if I’m going to be completely honest. I feel like if you’ve cut it out, really cut it out. That’s part of the magic of crossing that line — knowing that once you cross it, you can’t go back. If I’ve been naked with you, I can’t un-see you naked. And with my boyfriend’s partners? I try to be the bigger person, but I can’t help but be like, “you slept with it?”
AK: I know what you mean! I have my husband’s ex-wife to contend with!
RO: Oh, that’s even worse! Not only did you sleep with it or live with it — you married it! That’s one of the blessings of not having gay marriage — not having ex-husbands to deal with.
AK: Well, speaking of — what did you think of the Prop 8 experience here in California?
RO: It was so surprising, when the Supreme Court even made that ruling in the first place, and it came as a total shock to most of us. I was single at the time, and suddenly there was this right we didn’t know what to do with. We were all aware there was this tiny window of time when we could get married and have it be legal, and it felt like there was tremendous pressure to partner up — now! It was like a giant game of emotional dodgeball.
Then when Prop 8 went through, it was such a letdown. It all happened at once. I was at Obama’s headquarters in Century City here in LA, and it was this huge ballroom where all these giant TVs were showing the announcement that an African-American had been elected president. And on this tiny TV in the corner with about 15 gay and lesbian men and women huddled around it, and that’s where I found out Prop 8 had gone through. So there was all this hope on one side, and disappointment on the other. But never fear. A lot of people have had their consciousness raised by this. I think California will have gay marriage by 2011.
AK: I’ll take that bet. You talk a lot in your act about being a compulsive overeater. What’s that like on a date?
I’ll tell you, I’m so fortunate because my boyfriend is what you might call a chubby-chaser. Though that has its own complications: if someone loves me for the thing I hate most about myself, could I lose the man I love just by getting skinny? I’ve learned to love myself in a whole new way because he loves my body the way it is. And I have to, too: because if I can love myself at any weight, dropping pounds is just icing on the cake — no pun intended!
AK: What’s the show like?
It’s called cabaret, but I’m going out of my way to make it accessible to people who’ve never been to cabaret in their life. Even though it’s very specific, it’s completely relatable — it’s called Ryan O’Connor Eats his Feelings, but it could just as easily be called John Doe Drinks his Feelings or Tiger Woods Fucks his Feelings. Because it’s about learning to feel your feelings through music and laughter rather than whatever addiction you have.
To me, it doesn’t make sense that cabaret is not as popular as standup. They’re both storytelling. Cabaret should be as mainstream as Kathy Griffin or Dane Cook. It just takes a few people getting out there and starting it.
Click here for Ryan O’Connor’s full tour schedule!
But beyond that, we can’t put how we feel about the Gores’ split any better than FOBG Rebecca Traister, writing in Salon:
My attempt to sort out why I am unexpectedly gutted by the news of Al and Tipper Gore’s separation:
1. Of course we only see publicly performed versions of political couple-hood, but the Gores’ public performance was pretty damn heart-warming, even if it did tilt a touch too far on the ew-gross-mom-and-dad-are-making-out spectrum. But that’s the point! Mom and dad made out and they still couldn’t make it?
2. Forty years. You get through forty years — of ill-behaved children and ill-behaved bosses and stolen elections — and then you split? This is precisely the kind of mysterious and inexplicable narrative of marriage thing that scares the bejesus out of people who are newly or not yet married. Forty years?
3. Relatedly: so soon after Robbins and Sarandon? Really? Couldn’t divorce have taken the Bushes, or maybe the Broderick-Parkers, first, and given us some respite from confounding and embarrassingly inappropriate sadness over the personal decisions of celebrity couples whose marriages we didn’t even realize we had any emotional investment in until they dropped this bomb all over our post-Memorial Day Tuesday and now we can’t work because we’re really, stupidly sad?
4. Good god, does this mean that Al Gore is going to date? And plus, oh please please please tell me he has not already been dating. Do not want to know. Nyah, nyah, nyah. I cannot hear you. I cannot heeeeaaaar you.
5. Relatedly: they were supposed to be the functional couple. The ones who personally disapproved of the cigars and the thongs and the rest of the ridiculousness so mightily that they eschewed the Big Dog’s help in 2000 and look what happened! All because they were the functional couple!
6. It had never occurred to me that it would bother me in the slightest if Al and Tipper Gore got a divorce mostly because it had never occurred to me that Al and Tipper Gore would ever get a divorce.
…I didn’t know I had any room at all to care about the Gores’ relationship, but maybe because it’s something so much smaller, so much more personal, a headline so much easier to absorb than the other larger tragedies playing out around the globe that this small piece of political gossip turns out to be such an unbelievable freaking bummer.
Openly lesbian Cambridge, Massachusetts Mayor E. Denise Simmons will marry her longtime partner Mattie B. Hayes Sunday, August 30. The couple will exchange vows in a predominantly African-American church, a possible historic first.
“I believe this may be the very first African-American church to hold a same gender wedding, and that’s something that just wouldn’t have happened years ago,” Simmons said in a press release.
“But times are changing, people are becoming more accepting of their fellow citizens, and we are slowly arriving at more of a ‘live-and-let-live’ kind of world,” she added.
The ceremony will take place at the historic St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church near Harvard Square and will be conducted by Rev. Leslie K. Sterling.
The announcement of an Episcopal Church blessing a lesbian marriage comes quick on the heels of a historic church vote that gives bishops the discretion to bless gay unions, especially in states where gay marriage or civil unions are legal.
The state of Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage five years ago. Since then over 16,000 gay and lesbian couples have exchanged vows in the state.
In 2008, Simmons made history when she became the nation’s first openly lesbian African-American mayor. She replaced Kenneth Reeves, America’s first openly gay African-American mayor.
“It’s not an easy process, and there have certainly been some detours along the way,” Simmons said about the acceptance of gay men and lesbians in society, “but I think all the kind words I’ve received about this ceremony suggest we’re living in a friendlier, more open society. Our society is definitely making progress.”