While it's easy for the rest of us (or maybe just me) to judge the comics as not quite queer enough, when you think about them as being stuck in a time-warp, you realise you have to look a little closer at the closet cases involved in order to pick them out. Television might have its L-Word's and Will and Grace's and lesbian sisters of Jamie on Mad About You, and the silver screen can have its fancy pants Jack and Ennis and Kissing Jessica Stein, but the comics are just fine without all the bells and whistles. No, they don't need your pity; all they want is your respect and your time as you kids look more deeply into them for their queer folk. Yeah, it might not be as easy as calling someone on your cell phone or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, but if you read between the lines, reinterpret the artwork, and just make things up, you can find the representation you're looking for.
First, check out this Friday's They'll Do It Every Time:
Don't let the fashion fool you; this is supposed to be now. This single panel is about a guy who calls the women in his office "sweetheart" and "m'love". And he's somehow singing at the same time. Now there's really only one sort of guy who can get smiles for that sort of behavior - the office "glad" (maybe Scaduto means that he's just happy?).
I just reread Richard Isay's Becoming Gay, and I must say that even though it was written in 1991, there is a cultural difference between the gays of his time and mine, so much so that I can't wrap my mind around a statement like this: "[I] was concerned about the effect coming out would have on my marriage" (37). The clothes tell me that Buttbrain here might be a part of that generation.
So TDIET, like an anachronistic Seinfeld, is supposed to poke fun at different types. This type, with whom those two guys in the Bronx are so familiar, is a great guy deep down inside. Buttbrain is that type of person who has just come out to himself, later in life, and has come out to some of his women friends far from home and has become a sort of desexualized confidant and office mascot because of it. But being partly in the closet, especially to one's close family, is only going to help build his self-esteem about this one part of his identity and create resentment towards compulsory heterosexuality, which ultimately will be transfered on the most visible representative of The Opposite Sex in his life - Helgar. I've seen this misdirected anger a lot among partly out queer people; in fact it seems that's the fuel of the Catholic hierarchy.
So what's Buttbrain to do? Well, he has to take that final step. No, it won't help his relationship with Helgar, but maybe he can become a better role model for his son who can't stop wearing the same blue-vest-striped-shirt outfit.
This Friday's Blondie:
Aversion therapy for heterosexuals.
And your Judith Butler rewrite of The Family Circus: