Today marks the debut of Archie Comics' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller. Given the famously white-bread series has been around for 71 years, this is the equivalent of grandpas everywhere giving the queer community a big old hug, or something like that.
Still, it's debatable how much progress the comic aspires to when you take a closer look at the character's arrival in Riverdale.
Kevin makes his appearance in Veronica No. 202, where, according to Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comic Publications, the storyline focuses less on acceptance than it does on the privileged character Veronica getting slighted:
"We're batting story ideas around and Dan [Parent] says, 'What if Veronica, who's able to get everything she wants, isn't able to get something? What if a new good-looking boy comes into town and Veronica wants to date him and he turns her down?' And I say, 'Why would he do that?' And Dan says, 'Because he's gay.' And I say, 'Now that's funny. That's a good premise.'"
On the one hand, this is definitely a step in the right direction: One of the most saccharine, kid-friendly comics in the country readily identifies the importance of diversity and change in its pages. If you are going to write a comic book about teens, you need to acknowledge (even if it's at the PG level) who teens really are and what they go through: Sexual identity is a major part of that experience.
However, Kevin seems to be yet another instance of "best supporting gay." First, he is defined primarily by his sexual preference. Second. he does not have his own storyline. Instead, he serves another character's for laughs. Goldwater claims that this is only the beginning of Kevin Keller's narrative. Let's hope so. [The Daily Beast]