The Obelisk: Not that There’s Anything Wrong With It...
By Philip Schweier
November 20, 2010 - 14:54
Recently, my wife and I visited San Diego. No, it wasn’t to stake out a hotel room for next summer’s Comic-Con. After the volume of panhandlers we encountered downtown, I’m not sure I’d appreciate another trip to San Diego so soon.
But as we often do when we visit a new city, we made the rounds of the comic shops and game stores. One store in particular, the Obelisk on University Avenue, stood out...and I do mean OUT.
First let me start by saying that I am not so interested in the personal business of other people to care much what goes on in the privacy of their own homes. Live and let live.
Secondly, I have absolutely nothing against the gay community. I live in Savannah, GA, which has had the reputation for being #3 in the United States for gays per capita, ranking behind New York City and San Francisco. Whether that reputation is legitimate or not, I don’t know, nor do I care. I just know that I have had a number of friends, neighbors and co-workers who are/were homosexual.
And according to one of my friends, there is a difference between “homosexual” and “gay.” The first is a sexual preference, the second is a cultural lifestyle. I was educated in this regard by a friend of mine who is quick to point out that he is one, not the other. He doesn’t like show tunes, dress especially well or live down to any of the other stereotypes.
The Obelisk in San Diego is a comic book store that caters to the gay community. And why not? As comic book publishers strive to reach new audiences, why wouldn’t there be gay readers, some of whom want comic books to which they can relate?
But let’s consider the content of mainstream popular comics: super-hero adventures, in space, fighting costumed villains with super-powers. Exactly how does anyone relate to THAT?
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I read comic books as an escape, as a form of entertainment to take me some place other that my normal, relatable daily life. Through comic books, I want to be on the bridge of a starship or running across rooftops in pursuit of a cat burglar or soaring through the air with the greatest of speed.
So while trying not to be critical, I think I can save myself by saying I don’t understand. I don’t understand why the Obelisk felt they had to point out certain comic book titles with stickers indicating “LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) character in this series.”
Granted, the answer might appear obvious to some: the Obelisk is pushing a gay agenda. Fine. I have no problem if that’s the case. Anyone who takes issue with what the Obelisk is selling doesn’t have to patronize that store. It’s a free country.
Nevertheless, there are people who fall into any given socio-ethnic group – gays, blacks, Jews, et al. – who allow it to become part of their identity, yet still desire to be accepted for who they are rather than what they are. My argument is that when you hold what you are before you like a banner of some sort for all the world to see, then be prepared to be judged by it.
For instance, many years ago, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
presented a young, up-and-coming comedian whose act consisted of stories of growing up in the ghetto, drug dealers and hip-hop culture. Following the stand-up routine, Leno talked with the young man, referring to him as a black comedian, which the guest seemed to resent. “Why must I be a black comedian,” he asked. “Why can’t I be simply a comedian?”
Well, because that’s what your act IS, ya dumb***! Get a clue!
So when a store pushes an agenda reflecting their customer base in some way, I tend to look at it as the same situation. If there is a desire to be accepted as “normal,” or “mainstream,” then it simply makes sense to NOT draw attention to that which makes such people different. But I could be completely wrong. Perhaps the Obelisk and its patrons aren’t interested in being regarded as normal or mainstream, and that’s okay. Individuality is a wonderful thing.
So to summarize, I encourage comic books to reach as broad an audience as possible, including homosexuals, and I have no problem with members of any given socio-ethnic group using a business to further their agenda, as long as they go about it with realistic expectations.
Nevertheless, I still question the need to label “LGBT” titles. These are comic books featuring overly-muscled people in skin-tight outfits smacking each other around.
I just think pointing out gay content seems a little redundant.
Praise and adulation? Scorn and ridicule? E-mail me at email@example.com
Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12