I feel like I’ve been far too lax in getting the word out about Little Heart, a forthcoming comics anthology full of great comics work, that’s also supporting a great cause. Below, you’ll find the first draft of my introduction to this book (sure to be edited because it runs 1200+ words!) and I hope that in talking about my life and the work in this book, I can convince you to take a chance and buy one today. Full details about this book and purchasing info at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/765505753/little-heart-a-comic-anthology-for-marriage-equali. And, not to rush you, but you need to do so by next Friday March 16th at the latest. – Chris
I married my husband Andrew in 2006, shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the gay marriages that had been performed by our provinces since 2001 (give or take) were in fact informed by Canadian values, not merely provincial ones. Despite a challenge or three from the Conservatives, the law… and my marriage… has remained on the books to this day.
Growing up as a gay kid, and then a gay teenager, and finally a gay adult, the notion that I could ever get married was simply not something that occurred to me. Perhaps it was just a failure of imagination on my part, but from what I knew and had experienced of gay culture, gay people could have just as loving, committed, and important relationships as heterosexual people could… but ‘marriage’ was just something that wasn’t for us. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be wrong about that, and I am forever in the debt of the brave gay and lesbian couples that fought the battles, and won them, that allow me to have rights that I quite frankly should’ve been born with. That gay kids today, and the gay teens and adults of tomorrow, will hopefully never have been without.
I met my husband in 2004, and I’ve spent the better part of our 8 years together indoctrinating him into the world of comics and graphic novels. I’m a comics guy; I’ve read written, drawn, lettered, published, talked about, and sold comics since I was 8 years old, and indoctrinating new readers is just what we do. Andrew didn’t really have comics growing up—I think he’d only ever read Spiegelman’s Maus for school when he met me. He’s an opera, symphony, perfect diction kinda fellow, and so when sharing my first comic with him I went the intellectual route and chose McCloud’s “comics textbook” Understanding Comics. Frankly I was/am so in love with Andrew he probably could’ve hated it and we’d still be together, but he loved it and we talked about it at length, and he was curious for more. Now I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure the very next comic I gave him was Maurice Vellekoop’s sadly out-of-print classic Vellevision, a repository of accumulated gay culture, gay wisdom, and gay folly. It’s was also quite the unique work at the time as, save for perhaps Howard Cruise’s excellent Stuck Rubber Baby, it was the only ‘gay graphic novel’ I was aware of that wasn’t intended solely as pornography (though, make no mistake, Vellevision’s got some pretty great scenes in it that address those particular interests…!). He loved that too, and when Vellekoop’s “A Nut At The Opera” came out it was the best of both worlds for both of us!
In 2011, it was very heavily rumoured (and somewhat supported) that if the Conservatives in Canada were elected with a majority government they’d reopen ‘the marriage debate’ and that future marriages between same-sex couples, and even already-conducted marriages between same-sex couples, could be stopped or annulled. I know, it seems crazy that something that’s been happening for 10 years (give or take) could, with a change in government, be stopped or rescinded, but looking at the rhetoric coming out of the Republican party right now, where they’re seeking to roll back women’s rights 50 or 60 years, well, it still doesn’t seem so far-fetched does it? I made a fairly impassioned plea to vote against the Conservative party because I didn’t want the nature of my relationship attacked or invalidated by a bunch of government thugs… and this is where Raighne Hogan, editor of this book, noticed what I was saying and decided I might be a good person to say a few words on its behalf.
And here we are.
Little Heart: A Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality is a fascinating document of a time and a place, of comics creators coming of varied sexualities and genders and backgrounds coming together to comment on the nature of marriage and the nature of love. Of course Maurice Vellekoop is here, and his journalistic piece on the realities of gay marriage in Canada 5-10 years later is just as melancholic and just as ironic and just as delightful as his work has ever been. Marinaomi’s wonderful piece about the trials and tribulations of getting married in a ‘non-traditional way’ certainly hit home, as did Noah Van Sciver’s thoughtful piece of comics journalism about miscegenation—last century’s marital ‘boogeyman.’
Probably the pieces in this book that ring truest to my experience are the ones by Jeremy Sorese, and Emily Carrol and Kate Craig. Sorese’s “Love Me Forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!” resonates deeply with me, because the incredibly talented Mr. Sorese, at 23, has all the same questions about life and relationships and especially gay marriage (“Who is walked down the aisle? Who wears white?”) that I did at 29 on my wedding day. My only advice to Mr. Sorese, 10 years my junior, might be that I found my answers to those questions by doing them, and if that’s what he wants I hope he gets the opportunity. Likewise for the talented Carrol and Craig, mine and my husband’s wedding rings are vintage (or perhaps ‘second hand’ if you’re feeling uncharitable), and I couldn’t help but wonder at the lives lived by the bearers of those rings before we wore them. Carrol and Craig in their ring neatly encapsulate the hopes of marriage, of commitment and anticipation, that I feel unite anyone who enters into the practice, while still making allowances for the unique relationships and agreements that define every union.
Even the pieces that don’t directly address marriage, but instead talk about queerness obscured, like “Roosterlegs” by Ed Choy and Sam Sharpe, or mediate on the complicated nature of young love, like Joseph Remnant’s “I Told You So,” speak to human experiences that touch all of us. Moreover every contributor to this book answered the call, “Help us support marriage equality in Minnesota,” by doing what they do best; creating comics—regardless of style, theme, or materials used. They’ve come down on the side of supporting the rights of all people to equality under the law and by picking up this book and supporting this fight you have too.
I was taught from an early age that equality needed to be fought for. I learned last year that what should be inexorable rights are not always so, and we must fight on. I learned from Jeremy Sorese that rights are worth fighting for even when they might not speak to us directly, from Marinaomi that celebrating what we have does not come at the expense of fighting on the behalf of others, from Noah Van Sciver and Emily Carrol and Kate Craig that love—and marriage—have always faced questions and obstacles, and from Maurice Vellekoop that even when marriage turns out not to be what you think it would, that the core concept of equality is still incredibly important. Finally, I learned from Raighne Hogan, 2d Comics, and the dozens of contributors to this fine volume that this is a battle that may need to be fought state by state, and even heart by heart, but that people regardless of background can come together and lend their voice. I’m happy to be lending mine and, by purchasing this book, thank you for lending yours.
- Christopher Butcher, March, 2012.