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Updated: Larry Doherty and Larry’s Comics at it Again. This Time Hate Speech Towards Transgender People.

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.

But quickly devolved from there.

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.

But, Larry being the agitator he is, continues.

And…And…

And the insensitivity continued…

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.

No Larry, it’s not the same thing, but thanks for showing us you can not learn a lesson and move on.

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Categories: Commentary

Author:Brett Schenker

Brett is a political consultant who resides in Arlington, VA. He grew up in Cleveland, OH and Buffalo, NY and attended the University at Buffalo, majoring in Political Science. Since then Brett has made his mark on politics working in various positions such as a Legislative Staffer for the Erie County Legislature, Special Assistant for Senator John Kerry, as the Database Administrator for Forward Together PAC, Deputy Internet Director for Chris Dodd for President, and Internet/Database Director for Virginians for Brian Moran, and Email Deliverability Czar for Salsa Labs. In 2007 Brett formed 5B Consulting providing his expertise on database solutions, new media and email strategy. He's a long time geek, reading comics since he was a child and learning to spell his name on an Atari 800. When he's not working, he's reading comics, playing video games and relaxing with a nice cup of tea. You can follow him on Twitter @bhschenker

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20 Comments on “Updated: Larry Doherty and Larry’s Comics at it Again. This Time Hate Speech Towards Transgender People.”

  1. David
    October 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    For a man who is registered as a sex offender Larry Doherty sure proves he is more then a child molestor he is also a racist and a bigot! Charming. I say lets’ make sure we don’t support his comics. Why give money to someone so disgusting.

    • spcld2k
      November 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      Although a dick I’ve never heard of him being a sex offender. Care to offer proof?

  2. October 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Larry blocked me on Twitter back when I called him out for making racist jokes in regards to Miles Morales becoming the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Well, first he threatened to knock out my teeth, then he blocked me.

    It’s shameful that this type of behavior is overlooked and accepted, ever, in our community. Racism? Sexism? Hate? Homophobia? Transphobia? Bigotry? Those are traits of villains, not heroes. If you support heroes in your comics then also support the heroes who sell them and don’t frequent shops run by bigots who behave in such a reprehensible, heinous fashion.

    Take a look at Midtown Comics or Jim Hanley’s Universe in NYC for a lesson in good business practices that don’t discriminate and certainly don’t bully people for the way they were born.

  3. October 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    The problem here is of communication, on both sides.

    At no point does Christian explain that the reason “sir” is offensive is because it’s inaccurate. A simple, “I’m a Miss (or Ma’am, or Ms. or whatever Christian’s preferred term of address is) not a sir.” could have prevented a lot of ill feelings both ways.

    Oftentimes in communications (not just written, but verbal as well) the use of the terms “Sir” or “Ma’am” are used sarcastically. That is, they’re used as disrespectful titles rather than the original respectful use. In some cases, people ask for them not to be used simply to avoid confusion regarding whether the term is being used respectfully or disrespectfully. At least one comics publication, Comics Buyer’s Guide, has had a long-standing policy of removing such terms to avoid people being misconstrued. Larry may have simply thought that was the case, and went with the less-weighty “dude” instead. BTW, according to Wikipedia, “dude” “can encompass all genders.”

    On the other side, it is *also* up to Larry to find out why his use of “Sir” was offensive. A simple, “Why does Sir bother you?” could have opened up the dialog in a more positive way.

    With the limitations of Twitter (140 characters, not being able to determine “tone of voice”), it behooves users to ask questions to clarify positions, rather than make assumptions. It doesn’t help either that Larry has a reputation for being both a friendly guy in person but a near-troll on the internet. When you’ve got a rep, you really need to spend a little more effort than others to be clear about what you mean.

    Unless you like having a bad rep, which is a distinct possibility with Larry.

    • October 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Christian thinks Larry was aware, but I don’t have proof one way or another. But it’s clear Larry was asked to stop using “sir,” he didn’t, in fact he continued to use male terms when talking about her. He knew what he was doing. It’s the attitude of his and a few others that controversy sells and his followers want his “frank, honest, talk.” Never mind when one descents from his opinion he attacks and then blocks you. I was blocked for saying I disliked a comic he was promoting. One incident would be one thing, but this is a pattern and has been an issue numerous times.

  4. October 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    “I would of reached”

    have! You would have reached…
    otherwise, fine article

  5. October 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    As an outside observer, unfamiliar with either of the people involved, I have to agree with Secret Headquarters that unless you already knew Christian was transgendered, the conversation was really not as straightforward as it’s being made out to be.

    The first instance of the use of “Sir” was not met with “please don’t call me that” (which can also be ambiguous) or “I’m female” which would have removed any doubt.

    Rather it was “Sir?” as in… why are you calling me that. This is a response I’ve sometimes received from *males* who identify as *male* when I call them sir. I was raised to call older men ‘Sir’. It’s a respect thing. If they’ve served in the military, often times they’ll actually request I not use it – the specific term – not the same as asking that I not refer to them by male pronouns.

    Also would point out that Christian ended her own reply with ‘Sir’, which may have not helped get the point across.

    Larry’s second use of the term Sir was met with an obvious statement not to be called sir, but again devoid of the “I’m female” that would put the request into context. At this point, I will point out, use of the term sir *was dropped*. It was dropped in favor of other male pronouns, possibly because the qualifier “I’m not male” was never stated.

    It is easy to see how the objection could have been to the specific term ‘sir’ and not the male pronoun aspect of it, so yes, sometimes these things need to be stated.

    So ‘man’, ‘dude’, ‘fellow’ etc were all used as possible replacements for the objected to term ‘sir’. But again, the *reason* for the objection to these terms was never made clear.

    Now, reading through it, it does seem that Larry was purposely pulling out new and different masculine pronouns to use, so maybe he did know. But maybe he didn’t. Seems he was being a jerk, but didn’t actually get what the issue was. Maybe he really was unaware of Christian being transgendered and since the name was masculine, the pronouns being used were masculine, and he was just flat unaware of why Christian kept getting angry over their use.

    Again, complete outside observer, just pointing out that while transgender *should be* accepted as completely valid, it’s also *rare* and sometimes you do have to state it in order to get the point across.

    “Don’t call me sir” is only obvious if you know the person is objecting to the use of sir as a masculine pronoun rather than as an implied honorific term (military, knighthood, etc)

    Some men object to sir on the latter basis, but that does not mean we assume a female pronoun in addressing them based on that.

    “Don’t call me sir, I’m female” removes *any* doubt.

    • October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      And the first thing I did was ask Christian if Larry knew, and it seemed he did. But to me, the telling thing is the repeated use of terms like “sir,” “dude” and “fellow.” That to me tells he knows what he was doing and was doing it to be a dick. Don’t disagree comments back could have been clearer, erasing all doubts though, but I read it as above.

      • October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

        Fair enough, I don’t know either person involved. Well, some people are just jerks, then. :(

  6. October 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    The fact that you had to explain what the problem was illustrates that the issue simply isn’t readily apparent.

    • October 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

      I explained it as the average person might not know, but those involved didn’t need explanation.

  7. Chris
    October 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    “I would of reached out …” – “would have”, please!

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