What started as a friendly discussion on Twitter about digital versus print comics quickly devolved into a string of hate speech and Trans Bashing between the owner of Larry’s Comics, Larry Doherty, and Christian Beranek, a self described “Comic book writer, geek girl and rocker.” The discussion started in a friendly nature.
The issue with Larry’s response is the word “sir.” Christian is transgender. Meaning she identifies herself and lives day to day as female. So, you can see how the word “sir” might make one uncomfortable and is insulting and degrading. In fact Christian politely asks Larry to stop using the term.
This is Trans Bashing and Cyber Bullying, no other way to put it. Larry was aware of Christian being transgender and continued to use the words “sir,” “dude,” “man” and “fellow” when referring to her. All terms belittling Christian. But, this isn’t the first time this behavior has come from Larry. In 2011, he also made insensitive racist jokes about the new Ultimate Spider-Man before the character was introduced and just rumored to be black.
This is the latest example of a comic book industry struggling with inclusion, whether that’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or gender roles. Mandy Curuso took to the internet to describe the harassment she experienced this past weekend at New York Comic Con. She described it as her “first truly skeezy experience at Comic Con.” And that’s the thing, this is a minority that’s causing these issues. The majority of fans are inclusive and welcoming and like sharing the hobby and entertainment they enjoy with others.
Unfortunately, incidents like this or what Mandy experienced don’t result in repercussions. The film crew Mandy dealt with will still get press passes and Larry will still have his ass kissed by publishers and creators who overlook his behavior that gives a black eye to the industry. When will we all say enough is enough?
Christian was kind enough to respond to my inquiries and provided the following quote about the incident:
Brett, I’ve been following Larry on twitter for awhile now. I appreciate his viewpoint as a retailer dealing with an ever-changing industry in which digital is becoming more and more important. Last night I made an admittedly cheeky comment about webcomics in response to a post about Marvel. It was meant to get a discussion going and it did. Larry is very passionate about print comics and often makes condescending remarks towards those of us who work in digital. Usually it rolls off but last night he called me ‘Sir’. I let pronoun misuse slide because I understand people are still getting used to me living as a female. I always ask the person to please make an effort to correct themselves and most times people are pretty cool about it. Last night Larry was not so cool.
Larry points out that print comic sales are rising. I think that’s great for the Big 2 and others benefiting from it. But there are loads of us who are working hard to tell different types of stories in different ways. Many of the people who make comics online have never even been to a comic book convention let alone a comic book shop. Many feel they are hostile environments. I think the “Boy’s Club” mentality of comics holds us back in a lot of ways. To be fair those who act this way are in the minority but they are extremely vocal and many of them hold positions of power.
I think manners and common courtesy go a long way. I’m not trying to censor anyone’s thoughts, I just think we’d have a much more pleasant and thriving community if we considered the lifestyles, backgrounds and viewpoints of other people.
Just take a moment and listen from time to time. People will surprise you and many times you’ll learn something new. Heck, Larry and others like him might even increase their business further because of it.
Thank you for the opportunity to have a say on this matter.
I would have reached out to Larry for a comment on the matter, but he’s had me blocked on Twitter for my opinions for well over a year.
Update: After numerous hours Larry has issued an “apology.” I have my opinion, but I leave it to you, the readers, to decide how truly heartfelt it is. And thanks for the shout out as the “vindictive blog” Larry and thanks for the traffic! *hugs*
Update 2: It seems Larry clearly doesn’t understand why this was an issue, deciding to make a joke about it all.