The Unlikey Muse: Bigotry in Comic Books

1912229_10202493266268143_1977853857_n“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet,
then you must write it.” ―Toni Morrison

The one thing that I’m personally learning this month is that there are a plethora of people who feel the need to create work because there is absence of something or because there is a void that needs to be filled. With that being said, here is today’s guest blogger, Denny Upkins:

They say necessity is the mother of all invention and by extension, creativity. As a storyteller I’ve certainly found that to be true for the narratives I penned.

As a queer geek of color, I’ve learned early on that geek culture is for white people for a number of reasons, and to be a PoC or an LGBTQ means to be treated like a pariah.

More than that, countless marginalized characters are endlessly undercut and buried due to the rampant bigotry that pervades the media. Extraordinary characters such as Storm (the First Lady of Marvel), Renee Montoya, Regina Mills, Freedom Ring, Midnighter, Cassandra Cain and countless others who have been lightning rods for racism, misogyny, and/or homophobia by fandom and the industry alike.

But as any artist will tell you, inspiration can often come in the unlikeliest of forms.

My online better half and partner in crime, playwright Shawn Harris and I were having a discussion one day about how bigotry can often be the best muse. We’re often empowered to tell the tales that white supremacy, homophobia, and patriarchy refuses to acknowledge. For example, if the comic book world is hellbent on not giving the proper shine to Cassandra Cain and Midnighter, then I would simply have to pen an original adventure honoring the spirit of these heroes and hopefully in the process educate, entertain, and empower neglected and marginalized audiences.

Make no mistake, this is about power. It always has been. Not only is there power in the narrative but power in controlling the narrative. Why do you think so many whites work tirelessly to block us out of spec fiction or the media in general? Power. Case in point, there’s a reason why even though the m/m slash romance genre for and about queer males, it is dominated and run by cis-gendered white women. It’s difficult to be heterosexist, homophobic and fetishistic about queer males in a genre where we’re empowered to share our truths. This is why harassment, stalking and death threats of queer males is the norm with these sociopaths in that genre. See how it intersects?

Ask yourself this. Even though X-Men is based on the Civil Rights struggle of blacks (ie OUR STORY), how many black writers have actually written for Marvel’s flagship title? For that matter, how many writers of color? Again, power.

And while their bigotry has paid off for a season, it will ultimately prove to be media’s undoing. Insiders can’t understand why Hollywood continues to hemorrhage money while Kickstarters, web series and other online media initiatives continue to gain ground. To quote Jack Harkness, it’s the 21st century, everything changes. The internet allows us to exchange ideas, information, and other resources to circumvent a crumbling and corrupt image(1)industry. We get to share our stories our way and connect with our audiences on our terms. In other words, we take our power back and excel in the face of adversity as people of color tend to do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another epic adventure to write.

And they say there’s no new tale to tell.

Mark 12:31

35__Hold_my_hand_by_becauseIRnuttyI will make this brief. I attended Catholic school for 12 years of my life. I have been taught many lessons about the holy trinity and the life of Christ. I barely remember anything being taught about hating other people based on their beliefs or actions. But, what I do remember specifically was this line: And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

So what is the big fuss over Jason Collins outing himself? Is there a need for Chris Broussard to just mention that being gay is an open rebellion to God? My personal favorite is how people are now saying that Tim Tebow was persecuted for being Christian while everyone is celebrating Jason Collins. Really? Let’s just put it out there that these are not the greatest athletes we are talking about.

First Chris Broussard is just a sorry reporter. He has every right to believe what he wants. The problem is that as a sports analyst, he needs to be objective. I would say the same thing about Charles Barkley. If you cannot be objective then it will be hard for anyone to report things straight up. Secondly, when you work for a company such as ESPN, whatever you say will be a reflection on them, period. So when he says that we live in a time of political correctness and people don’t have to say anything, then perhaps he should have not said a word.

My main point is simply this. Jesus preached to love everyone. He didn’t say love thy neighbor unless he is sleeping with another man. He wasn’t exorcising homosexuals in the streets of Jerusalem. In fact, Jesus was against the church and everything it was becoming! So I find it funny that Christians (those who follow the new testament) have to go to the old testament to pull out words like abomination when Jesus is telling the world to just love one another.

Why would he do that? So he could die for our sins. Please point out to me where in the Bible Jesus says that homosexuality is evil? 12 years of Catholic School has taught me one thing, I do not need the church to validate what I believe. But I do know that Christians of the past have used the bible to validate wars, genocide, and slavery.

So I will leave you with this:

Matthew 7:1: Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

John 8:7: And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Romans 2:1: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.