Archie Comics has put out an issue that features a gay wedding, involving a regular character who is openly gay. To me, this is cause for celebration. To One Million Moms, a conservative group, this practically signals the end times. They are threatening Toys ‘R Us with a boycott, if the chain doesn’t pull the issue from its shelves.
This is not the first time that the organization has threatened a retailer with a boycott because of their views on homosexuality – the group recently tried to get Ellen DeGeneres fired from her position as spokesperson for JC Penney – unsuccessfully.
I feel the actions of the organization (as well as the related organization, One Million Dads) are wrong for a variety a reasons. What my primary issue is with them is their efforts at censorship. They don’t want anything about gay people in print. They don’t want anything about gay people in advertising. Or on tv. Now, in either the JC Penney campaign or the Archie comic, it’s not like there is any sexual content. I’m pretty confident that the JC Penney campaign doesn’t feature Ellen DeGeneres saying “Shop at JC Penney. And I’m gay”.
In my view, having kids see or read about gay people, just living normal lives, is probably the best way for them to grow up free of that kind of hatred. And I point out that rights and freedoms go both ways: Just as people have the right to believe that being gay is wrong, other people have the right to believe that being gay is just fine.
To me, what should be kept out of toy stores is hate. Judgement. That is what doesn’t belong around children. There is a children’s book which is one I frequently recommended at work called My Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis. It is a (non-fiction) story about a little boy who likes to dress up like a princess. The whole point of the story is acceptance, and loving someone for who they are, not what you think they should be. That is what we should be teaching our children, and that is a lesson that should be true in every aspect of our lives. Ideally, we’re making our children better people than we are. (For more about My Princess Boy, visit http://myprincessboy.com/index.asp )
I finish with a quote from Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater:
“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday.
“We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”