Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye To Comics #5: Lesbian = Woman Who Reads Comics?

Goodbye To Comics #5:
Lesbian = Woman Who Reads Comics?

I am often asked a lot of things related to comics because I am a woman who reads comics and thus I am a freak.

1. Is it weird to be a woman who reads comics?

2. How did you get into comics?

3. What type of comics do you buy?

4. Sit on my lap?

I’ll tackle the first question first. How has it been like being a female that reads comics? In terms of the first 16 years of my life, it has been sheer fucking hell except for the introverted part where I’m in a world of my own and am having sex with Wolverine.

Why has it been sheer fucking hell? Because I knew NO other girl who read superhero comics, and because I was made fun of, kicked, beaten up, spit at, and called a fucking dyke. Of course, I was partially resposible for this as that at some point, around age 11 or so, I knew that if I only stopped the comics, started wearing feminine clothes, and made some token effort to be like the other girls things would have at least been bearable. But I consciously made the choice then, buoyed of course by the sensational return of Jean Grey that there was no way I was going to miss thank you very much, that I would continue on my peculiar path.

But it was always curious to me how the lesbianism thing was connected, at least by my various tormentors, to the comics.

I mean really, what is so gay about Batman?

Ok, let’s start over again.

What’s so gender-specific about a superhero narrative? About the graphic story-telling medium?

And yet, I was called “a fucking dyke.” Obviously the sensible shoes and my GI Joe collection didn’t help the situation. But I was stung, and the connection between “lesbian” and “comics” stayed in my mind.

Worse, all the boys who I hung out with as a child who talked comics with me were by the age of 12, only interested in fucking. So I couldn’t hang out with the boys or the girls. But it was ok. Because I had the comics.

I would stay loyal to the comics.

Besides, my bipolar dad seemed to get more and more agitated as I physically developed and neared puberty. I don’t think he liked women very much. I don’t think he wanted me to be a woman. Had he not passed away two months before my first period, I don’t even know if I would have made it to being a woman.

That summer he had become more violent than I had ever known him to be. A frequent target of his rage was my comic collection, neatly filed with bags and boards, that he would grab by the handful and throw at me as he called me a fucking ungreatful bitch. He beat me within an inch of my life.

And yet, that was such a great summer. We went to all the cool comic shops in Manhattan. We had lots of ice-cream. I filled out the back-issues of my Claremont/Romita Jr. X-Men.

It was such a bad summer.

It was such a great summer.

It was such a bad summer.

It was such a great summer.

Ok, so I’m in the hospital room, right, and they’ve just given me the knockout gas so they can sew up my wounded vagina. I’m in Oz, so to speak, I’m talking technicolor and Peter Allen in a amazing glow-in-the-dark patchwork coat. It’s wild.

In the dreamscape I am walking past a long corridor filled with the writhing bodies of what I can only assume are the Dead. To build up my confidence I start singing,

“My name is Cuban Pete...I’m the king of the Latin beat...and when I dance I go boom-chicky-boom boom-chicky-boom boom-chicky-boom...”

I’m suddenly reading the first scripts for the Rose and Thorn adaptation by Gail Simone. The irony of this story as it applied to my life was not only striking, it was choking.

I was an assistant editor, theoretically. Theoretically in a theoretical company.

Several weeks later I approach an openly lesbian co-worker at a company function and confess that I am bi-sexual and that I desperately need somebody to give me advice.


  1. When I was a child, I was called "Church Lady" all the time. And "fag," of course. I was chased home day-after-day for the first two years of elementary school; I was a pariah. This was all for coming from a religious family. Mom was one of those who believed Halloween was the devil's day. We didn't give out Halloween candy.

    This only made me stubborn. As the years went by, I became self-righteous. I was being persecuted, in my mind, a martyr. For me, it was more true that I had become an ass about the faith. I despised kids who didn't believe in (the Protestant) God. I was utterly alienated.

    I had my comic books, but my mother hated them. Eventually I burned them. A couple times. It's hard to remain convinced that reading Spider-man is leading one toward evil.

    I was never beaten. In fact, I have a hard time believing such violence exists in people, only because I've never experienced it. Old Mother Williams has, and I've heard her stories, and I am amazed at the similarities between your story and hers.

    I suppose my point is that I feel a certain sympathy toward you. I've known alienation, though not the parental violence. My wife has known that piece. I don't know if it does any good to tell you that, but I hope it does.

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