Tag Archives: lgbt

Robinson Apologized for Airboy Issue 2 Because We United and Took Action

“If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”. – Frederick Douglass*

Airboy02_CoverActivism gets results. Graphic Policy and The Rainbow Hub were criticized by people in the comics community when we took action against the extremely transphobic second issue of Airboy. But because we raised hell we made progress. That’s the lesson people should be taking away from this.

On June 30th Graphic Policy and The Rainbow Hub‘s Emma Houxbois published stories calling attention to the rampant transphobia in the second issue of the Airboy comic. I’d lavished praise over the comic’s first issue. We knew the context the story took place in and it was the story itself that was transphobic, not just words that characters said while “behaving badly”. Our sites’ explained how the comic’s narrative repeats the dangerous myth that trans women are out there trying to “trick” men into sex with them. We explained that this myth endangers trans people and in a world in which “trans panic” still gets used as an excuse to murder trans people we need to react as strongly as possible when it is repeated.

And we heard crickets in response.

On July 2nd I emailed GLAAD, the most powerful media watchdog for LGBTQ people. We know that when GLAAD speaks out they can’t be ignored and the comics world knows it too– since GLAAD’s known for giving awards to comics that have positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters. GLAAD sprung into action. They issued a statement. And between their clout and the outcry we organized, we forced the comics community to pay attention to the problems in the comic.

And then James Robinson apologized. Robinson heard what we said, and he listened and explained that he now realizes that he “fucked-up” (his words) . I’m not trans but his apology seemed earnest and thoughtful to me. Some trans people were not impressed but others have responded favorably to his apology.

Only July 6, artist Greg Hinkle went so far as to THANK people who spoke up on Twitter and offer to continue the conversation at Comic-Con.

Meanwhile, what about all those defenders of Airboy #2? They continue to promote bigotry. Robinson acknowledged the problems with his comic. He wants to do better. When the artists who created the comic are saying that they now see the problem in what they made, their defenders should probably take a minute and use their hearts and their heads to listen. More importantly, they need to stop and listen to transwomen like Emma Houxbois who’s written powerfully about the problems in this comic and in comics at large.

In the end, the defenders of Airboy want to marginalize comics as an medium because they want to perpetuate a comics industry that excludes people who aren’t like them. They are bringing comics down. Also, to all of the “serious comics journalists” who were willing to acknowledge that there  “may be problems with Airboy 2″ but criticized Graphic Policy and Emma for demanding the book be pulled? Guess what. We got results. If we had played it quiet and POLITE we wouldn’t have brought the attention we brought to the problem.

Remember, we started out by just writing reviews that explained the comic’s transphobia and no one was talking. As soon as we demanded the book be pulled the conversation exploded. This chart Brett made illustrates the silence around Airboy until we made our demands. GLAAD has made it very clear: activism is key to creating change. They said:

“GLAAD is very grateful that the Rainbow Hub and Graphic Policy brought ‘Airboy’ #2 to our attention, and used their social media reach to spark an online discussion about the transphobia in the issue. GLAAD was happy to use our platform to boost their signal, and then to work with James Robinson to distribute his response.” – Nick Adams, Director of Programs for Transgender Media at GLAAD.

If you value politeness over creating change then you don’t really care about making change.  

As Katie Schenkel aka ‏@JustPlainTweets tweeted “People who care more about the idea and purity of ART than about marginalized people’s humanity being chipped away bum me the hell out.”

And From @sarahnmoon: ” If your gentleness is tone-policing and silencing anger, it’s not truly gentle because it doesn’t care about what others are hurt by”

Oh, and what of Image comics – who had their twitter icon wrapped in the rainbow flag while publishing a transphobic comic? Image is still silent. But they took down the flag….

To everyone who tried to change the conversation into a debate over censorship, I recommend Brett’s blog post that explains the difference between our demands and actual censorship (which we oppose). Meanwhile, you can buy two Image Comics that are trans positive right away: The Wicked + The Divine and the new Arclight. You should also buy Sophie Campbell and Kelly Thompson’s hilarious, youth-friendly and suspenseful Jem and the Holograms which has a trans character and is by a trans artist.

But using your comics buying dollars to support positive portrayals of trans people isn’t enough. We can’t just leave it at that. Not when comics are repeating dangerous tropes that their audience can’t even identify as a problem. Not when people are making money off of transphobia.

So yes, we took action. 

And no we don’t apologize. 

* Note on that Frederick Douglas quote: I’m not comparing what we’re doing to the scale of Frederick Douglas’s work. I use his quote to illustrate the point we are making and to show the theory behind activism.

For more on this story and comics media activism listen to our podcast from July 6th.

FlameCon: NYC’s Queer Comics Convention

Graphic Policy was at the first ever queer comics convention, FlameCon, in NYC. It was amazing. Here’s what I saw.

.@tecktonickbootz is the worlds best Jubilee. #flamecon

A photo posted by @elana_brooklyn on

#flamecon mascot Flamey seems awesome.

A photo posted by @elana_brooklyn on

Flamey is #FlameCon‘s mascot. In the pre conference materials sent to press FlameCon explained to reporters that we should not assume to know the gender of attendees. They said we should always ask what pronoun’s to use and gave the example that when referring to the conference mascot we should use the pronouns “they/their/theirs”.

Some of the gender pronoun stickers we could use. Also included an “Ask Me” option. Wonderful!

The History of LGBT Character in DC Comics

DC All Access has released a brief history of LGBT characters found within the DC Universe, featuring The Advocate’s Jase Peeples. From the early days of the Comics Code all the way to Catwoman’s recent same-sex kiss, Jase looks at touchstones and turning points, revealing how far we’ve come and illustrating why it’s so important that comics remain inclusive.

Gen Con Works to Protect LGBT Attendees After Discussion with Gov. Pence

For those new to the story, Gen Con, the largest game convention in North America, took a stand against Indiana’s SB 101 which would allow people to use their religion to discriminate against individuals amongst other things. With the legislation passed, the state has come under fire, with corporations freezing investment plans, and others refusing to travel there, along with calls for a boycott.

With millions on the line, and the state made out to look like bigots, Governor Mike Pence is doing what he can to spin the legislation claiming it’s for religious protection. It doesn’t help the Governor was surrounded by bigots when he signed the legislation, nor refused to answer a simple yes or no when it came to a question about LGBT discrimination on This Week.

Gen Con updated its community, saying they spoke with the Governor and disagree with his take on the legislation and situation. They are working with the Mayor of Indianapolis to ensure con-goers are not discriminated against and have a good time.

They are also urging the Governor, and other elected officials, to amend the legislation to make it clear and protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender orientation.

“We believe freedom from discrimination is a fundamental human right.”

The biggest news is the convention has halted its “expansion into Lucas Oil Stadium, and plans for further expansion into other hotel convention spaces.

The convention is urging individuals to write elected officials and call the Governor’s office, though his phone has either be disconnected or voice mail filled since this all started.

Gen_Con_Pence_SB_101_3.30.15

Gen Con Releases a New Statement Concerning Indiana’s SB 101

We’ve been covering Gen Con‘s reaction to SB 101, the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Gen Con, which threatened to leave the state if passed, has issued a new statement about the legislation being signed into law calling the decision “disappointing,” and “not unexpected.”

The short version, the convention has a contract to stay in Indianapolis until 2020, however bidding on where the convention will head after that begins about 5 years out, so in other words, within the next year.

The convention said in the mean time, they will focus on inclusion and fun. They have also want to hear about any positive or negative experiences with local hospitality during the convention, and will solicit feedback from the community about their experiences.

We stand behind the convention fully, and are proud they have stood up for inclusion and against bigotry.

You can read the full letter below.

GEN_Con_SB_101_Follow_Up

With SB 101 Signed, What Will Gen Con Do? Follow Salesforce?

Gen_Con_LetterOn Tuesday we brought you the news that Gen Con, the four day gaming convention (and one of my favorite conventions of the year) sent a letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence warning the convention may leave the state if SB 101, the supposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was singed into law. The convention, as many else also feel, felt the legislation is discriminatory, and would “allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees.”

The Governor is so proud of the bill, he signed it into law in a private ceremony. Indiana becomes the first state this year to enact such legislation out of the dozen or so states in which similar proposals have been introduced.

The fallout from the legislation signing was quick and fierce. Salesforce, on the the top software as a service companies out there, has decided to “dramatically reduce” their investment in Indiana. The CEO of the company Marc Benioff said in a series of Tweets:

gen-con-logoGen Con isn’t the only convention to take place in the state. Awesome Con expanded this year to host a convention in Indianapolis as well. We’ve reached out to both conventions for further comment as to their plans or reactions, but have not heard back as we went to press.

Geek conventions don’t have the best record when it comes to these things. In 2010, Arizona signed into law SB 1070 which some say unfairly targets Latinos, and is a violation of the civil rights of all Arizonans. Boycotts of the state due to the law cost the state over $141 million in 2010. Announced in 2010, but launched in 2011, the Amazing Arizona Comic Con was launched, though calls for boycotts were still in full effect. We questioned the choice of not just the convention, but those attending and supporting it. Companies who “champion” diversity and inclusion, and “pushing comics forward” have had no issues pumping money into the economy of a state which clearly cares little of these things. Though, in fairness, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill similar to the one Gov. Pence just signed into law. So, they just dislike people of darker skin there, but homosexuals are ok.

We’ll keep on this story as Gen Con has promised a follow up letter today. The convention in 2011 committed to stay in Indianapolis until 2020.

Pence released the below statement after signing the pill into law:

Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith.

The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.

One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Fortunately, in the 1990s Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—limiting government action that would infringe upon religion to only those that did not substantially burden free exercise of religion absent a compelling state interest and in the least restrictive means.

Last year the Supreme Court of the United States upheld religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but that act does not apply to individual states or local government action. At present, nineteen states—including our neighbors in Illinois and Kentucky—have adopted Religious Freedom Restoration statutes. And in eleven additional states, the courts have interpreted their constitutions to provide a heightened standard for reviewing government action.

In order to ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year our General Assembly joined those 30 states and the federal government to enshrine these principles in Indiana law, and I fully support that action.

This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.

Indiana is rightly celebrated for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance, and values of our people, and that will never change. Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.

And a Tweet by the Governor:

Gen Con Threatens to Leave Indiana Over SB 101

This afternoon Gen Con, a four-day gaming convention, sent a letter to the Republican Governor of Indiana Mike Pence warning that if SB 101 becomes the law, the convention may leave the state. Gen Con LLC’s CEO and owner, Adrian Swartout, said in the letter (which you can read below) that passage of the bill “will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.” The convention focuses on gaming of all types including board, card, miniature, and role-playing.

Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.

Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy.

Proponents of SB 101 would prevent state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest.

Opponents of the legislation says it gives a license for businesses to discriminate, particularly against gays and lesbians.

The legislation is being pushed by social conservatives.

The digest description of the legislation:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

Some have said the legislation is similar to what led the Supreme Court to side with Hobby Lobby concerning contraception. This legislation could be interpreted much further allowing systemic and widespread discrimination by businesses, for example a bakery refusing to serve a gay couple.

The legislation passed the House in a 63-31 vote, and Senate a 40-10 vote.

As of this post, the convention has garnered support and positive feedback from their Facebook community. Some dissented feeling this is “social justice warriors” making their way into gaming.

According to Facebook demographics, 10% of the convention’s “likes” are “interested” in the same-sex.

The convention, which began in 1968 in Lake Geneva by D&D creator Gary Gygax, moved to the city in 2003. It’s the convention center’s largest annual convention, bringing in excess of $50 million in revenue for the city of Indianapolis every year.

Last year’s convention, held August 14-17, saw another year of record attendance numbers and unprecedented growth. That makes it the fourth consecutive year, Gen Con grew by more than 10%. The year saw 14% year-over-year growth with a weekend turnstile attendance of 184,699 and unique attendance of 56,614. 2013’s previous record was 49,530 unique attendees. Since 2009, Gen Con’s annual attendance has more than doubled.

The convention also does good, selecting a charity partner each year to raise money. Last year also saw a record year in donations. The convention raised more than $40,000 for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana’s BackSacks program, which provides weekend food to children at-risk for hunger. This donation includes a $20,000 check provided by Mayfair Games’ Cones of Dunshire event, a charitable game played Saturday, August 16 on Georgia Street. This year’s partner is the Julian Center.

It is unknown how other conventions in the state have reacted to the legislation, but we have reached out for comments.

Gen Con 2015 returns to Indianapolis July 30 – August 2, 2015! And we’ll be there in full support.

Here is the letter for you to read:

 

Gen_Con_Letter

Prism Comics announces The Queer Comics Showcase

Prism Comics announces The Queer Comics ShowcasePrism Comics, the leading non-profit organization supporting LGBTQ comics, comics creators and readers, is proud to announce the creation of the Queer Comics Showcase, an annual digital book of information and art promoting LGBTQAI comic art, to be published in June 2015. The project is now open for submissions of titles and advertising space requests.

Prism now has an online form available for you to submit your title for inclusion into the book. Apart from queer content, your series or graphic novel can be included if it is currently available in any public form: print, digital, web-series, mini-comics, strips, etc. If your work is not currently available, they will accept it if it will be publicly released or published before May 2016.

This year’s title submission window will close on May 1, 2015. You can find more information and links to submission forms online.

Every title can be listed for free, with information and sample art in a standard format, single page. However, additional pages can be purchased for story reprints. If you could like to donate original, exclusive art or story pages to the anthology, Prism will give you story reprint pages for free.

An adult-version of the Queer Comics Showcase will be created and published separately.

Display ads and classified may also be purchased by any interested party.

The funds for the creation and selling of this book will help fund the various projects of Prism Comics, a non-profit 501c3 organization committed to supporting queer creators, publishers and fans.  Prism’s projects include the annual Prism Comics Queer Press Grant, redesigning the Prism website and presenting booths and panel appearances at major conventions and events across the U.S.

Rat Queens Wins GLAAD Media Awards

26GMA_long_r1a_0The winners of 16 of this year’s 31 media categories for the GLAAD Media Awards were announced at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards March 21. The awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.

In one geek related award, GLAAD previously announced that it was acknowledging BioWare’s hit video game Dragon Age: Inquisition with a Special Recognition Award.

This year’s nominees in the comics category were:

  • Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction and published by Marvel
  • Lumberjanes, written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and published by BOOM! Studios
  • Memetic, written by James Tynion IV and published by BOOM! Studios
  • Rat Queens, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and published by Image Comics
  • Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and published by Image Comics

Last night it was announced the Kurtis Wiebe’s Rat Queens had won. Congrats to all the nominees and Wiebe on the win!

26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Nominees Announced

26GMA_long_r1a_0GLAAD every year hosts an award ceremony to recognize some of the best entertainment when it comes to the LGBT community with their GLAAD Media Awards, and this includes a category for comics. The awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. They also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community that build support for equality.

The nominees for the 26th annual awards have been announced and those being honored are:

  • Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction and published by Marvel
  • Lumberjanes, written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and published by BOOM! Studios
  • Memetic, written by James Tynion IV and published by BOOM! Studios
  • Rat Queens, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and published by Image Comics
  • Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and published by Image Comics

The awards ceremony will be held on each coast, March 21 in Beverly Hills, California and May 9 in New York, New York. Congrats to all of the nominees!

« Older Entries