10.11.13 // It’s National Coming Out Day!
In honor of National Coming Out Day, I thought I’d date myself by sharing some of my favorite queer comics.
I came out in 1995 in Minneapolis, an earnest young bi-dyke feminist, with the requisite shaved head and combat boots (did I mention it was the 90s?). I was lucky enough to have a community of feminist and queer friends to come out into, who offered their support and introduced me to queer culture. We drove eight hours just to see Ani DiFranco perform, we held kiss-in protests in front of a known skinhead house, and we made zines protesting hegemonic standards of beauty. In short, it was a pretty radical time to be a young queer.
Amazon Bookstore (no, not that Amazon, this was before the giant corporate website) was a huge influence on me. It was the local feminist bookstore. It was the place where I bought books by Audre Lorde, Robyn Ochs, and Leslie Feinberg. It was the place where I sheepishly glanced at the “adult” products in the case in the back, and then ran away to the safety of the magazine rack, where Bitch Magazine was just getting started. And it’s where I discovered queer comics.
Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel (yes, that Bechdel), was among my first loves. Featuring an incredibly diverse ensemble of characters, the stories often paralleled my own life, and would continue to do so over the years. Plus! The bookstore in the strip, Madwimmin Books, was based off of—you guessed it!—Minneapolis’ own Amazon Bookstore. Which made me feel pretty chuffed, as a Minnesotan.
In a less realistic vein, the righteous rage of Hothead Paisan stoked my own fires of political passion. Not for the faint of heart, Diane DiMassa’s creation is heavy on the violent fantasies (which is, y’know, sometimes a side effect of being violently oppressed) and scathing social commentary. Many’s the time I would think “damn, if only Hothead were real” when someone shouted homophobic slurs at my friends and I as we walked down the street. And I personally know more than one dyke out there with a tattoo of Hothead’s beloved cat, Chicken.
An openly bisexual woman, Erika Lopez was a big favorite of mine. Her loose memoir-style comic novels about Tomato Rodriguez’s deeds of derring-do captivated me, and I loved her brash, unapologetic style. Her book Flaming Iguanas sparked in me the love of road trips and the idea that I could do whatever the hell I wanted.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’m sure there are plenty of 90s-era queer comics artists that I’m missing. And I have to say: this little trip down memory lane has made me realize that there’s a vast world of queer comics out there now that I have yet to explore, so share your favorite past and current comics in the comments!