Coming Out In Comics

Happy National Coming Out Day! Thank you SO much to everyone who offered storiesyour bravery, diversity, talent, humor, and love makes me proud all over again to be part of the queer comics community. Thanks also to the folks at Prism Comics, who posted my call for stories on their front page, and who work like crazy to support and celebrate queer comics, creators, and fans.
Originally, I had planned this as two postsone about great coming out scenes in comics, and the other focusing on coming out stories from members of the comics community. But as I looked through what I had lined upand heard from youthey started to bleed together.
I considered setting these up with a table of contents and target links but finally decided against itless because I’m lazy than because every single one of these stories deserves your full attention. You don’t get to pick and choose your sexuality; you don’t get to turn a blind eye to lives and experiences; and you don’t get to choose which stories you see.
Some of these stories contain links to comics and stories off-site. Please show their creators and hosts the same respect you would be expected to on the Inside Out forum.
And, a final note to friends in and out of comics: Inside Out is not an inherently political columnbut queer visibility and rights are an inherently political issue. This November, three states have ballot items defining marriage as ‘between one man and one woman.’ If you live in Florida, California, or Arizona, please, please get out to the polls and vote NO against propositions 2, 8, and 102, respectively. And even if you don’t live in those states, take a few minutes to make a donation or some phone calls and strike a blow for equal rights:
And now, stories!
Arion Hunter:
For a long time, I was interested in comics, but could never find a space for myself in the comics culture. The one time I did visit my local store, the man behind the counter watched me the entire time as if he expected me to shoplift. Unsurprisingly, I was suitably scared off of comics after that.
So on my first day of college, I randomly ran into another freshman and we hit it off rather well. It turns out she was a huge fan of comics, and so I agreed to head back to her dorm to inspect her collection. I had, up to this point, not been out to anyone around me. As a test of the waters, I made an off-hand comment about ‘probably not meeting another gay person on campus.’ She looks at me, laughs, and says, ‘Well, you just met one.’
She’s still one of my best friends to this day.
Siduri (originally posted at
National Coming Out Day is October 11, so it’s come and gone for 2007 and it’s a long way away for 2008. It’s been a while since I felt any need to mark this holiday. But I recently got into a conversation about gay marriage on a mailing list I frequent, and I realized: for a lot of people, I’m in the closet. I’m a wife and mother, and some people—the people I’ve met recently, including my husband’s wonderful family—wouldn’t have any reason to realize that I’m queer.
So here we go. I’m a bi woman. I’m one hundred percent monogamous and one hundred percent devoted to my husband, but in the past I’ve had girlfriends as well as boyfriends. Not at the same time—that’s called being polyamorous, and it’s a different thing from being bi—I’m bi and I’m monogamous. But I’ve had girlfriends, at least one who I deeply loved, and she’s still important to me. I would never repudiate that part of who I am.
The way the dice fell for me, my soulmate is a man, and so I could marry him. But they might have fallen another way. I could have ended up in love, forever, with a woman. That’s why the issue of gay marriage is so very important to me. And also, of course, some of my dearest friends are gay, and I witness the very real and ongoing harm that our country’s unjust laws are wreaking.
I get a ton of legal benefits from being in a heterosexual marriage. That’s actually why I don’t talk more about being bi. It seems presumptive to claim a queer identity when I’m enjoying so much heterosexual status and privilege. But I came out to my friends and family a long time ago, and I’m not willing to go back into the closet.
Hearts and minds are changed when people realize that ‘gay’ isn’t some scary person they see on TV, it’s a real person they know and love. I’m a faithful wife and a loving mother, and I’m bisexual. If you didn’t already know that about me, surprise! Maybe it won’t make a difference to you and maybe it will, but it’s something I want everybody to know. Happy Coming Out Day, late or early, and God bless us every one.
Joe Palmer of Gay League:
My whole coming out story is a gradual one and not all that exciting in its retelling. I have early memories of when I was four and five, having an internal monologue and knowing something about me was fundamentally different from everyone else around me. I didn’t have a word for it. Who does at that age. It wasn’t till I overheard my grandmother whom I loved dearly tell my mother she’d ‘better cut loose the apron strings or she’d have a sissy on her hands’ that I knew there was a word for it and hearing it reinforced the understanding to never let anyone know. I was six years old.
My understanding began to clear up some when I became fascinated with watching TV shows like Batman and Robin, Green Hornet, and Star Trek. I was consumed with looking at Kato, Sulu, and Chekov, Imagine my surprise when George Takei publicly came out. Around this time I discovered comics. Unlike a lot of gay men, my coming out and sexuality don’t have a strong, early connection and identification with Wonder Woman. It’s almost heretical, right? I fall into another group because the Legion of Super Heroes became my first and lasting passion. Here was a group of teens, more guys than girls, living together without parents. It was how I came to understand the idea of a chosen family and it was an extremely important idea for a nine-year old whose family was very dysfunctional. Of course, it was impossible for comics to have any gay content back then. This is 1967 after all and the Comics Code Authority is at full strength. Like with TV shows, there were male characters I became fascinated with, especially Ultra Boy and Element Lad. Unlike TV, comics were an entirely private ritual that allowed me to gradually come to understanding that realization of being different I had as a young child.
At one point when I was a teenager my father tried to stop me from reading comics because they had nothing to do with Christianity and were therefore Satanic. He watched television for hours on end so I thought tit for tat would be good. For two or three weeks I blacked out everything in the TV Guide that wasn’t a Sunday morning religious broadcast, and got my message across. If he’d had any real idea how I’d related to comics I think he wouldn’t have relented.
The following are coming-out storiespersonal and fictionalin comics form. Follow the links to read the full comics.
I Like Girls, by Erika Moen, was part of the inspiration for this post. I read this for the first time when I was in college, long before I met Erika, and it remains one of the most powerful coming-out narratives I’ve read. For another incredible comic by Erika on coming out and why visibility matters, read When We Hold Hands.
Erika writes:
‘I Like Girls’ was originally written as an essay for my ‘Memoir and Autobiography’ class, freshman year of college. I had JUST gotten into my first openly gay relationship and had not yet come out to my (homophobic) mom, so the paper was kind of a mental practice/preparation for that.
The comic I didn’t start working on until my sophmore year again, I think I did it for a class? An art class? I don’t exactly recall, but it is still the longest single comic I’ve ever completed and even though the artwork is oldy moldy it’s still the project I’m most proud of.
Everyone always asks if I came out to my mom by having her read the comic. That’d be a great story, but no, I did not. I told her face-to-face towards the end of freshman year, so she already knew (and was in denial) before I started illustrating my essay.
After four years, my mom is as supporitve as she possibly can be (Though it’s no secret she desperately would prefer me straight)
I Like Girls, by Erika Moen
I Like Girls, by Erika Moen
Brian Andersen, of Unabashedly Billie:
I have been a comic reader since I was a wee little boy of 8. Comics were (and still are) my safe haven from all the meanies and bullies at school who harassed me relentlessly (stupid, dumb jerks!). Growing up I always felt awkward and different and didn’t realize that my outsider feelings were because I was totally, completely, and utterly gay! In fact, I didn’t even come out until I was 26 whopping years old! ‘Unabashedly Billie’ is my semi-autobiographical comic book story of my coming out, my first date with my now boyfriend (we’re going on eight years together) and all the internal fears and joys that went along with me discovering and accepting the real me! Yay!
Unabashedly Billie, by Brian Andersen
Unabashedly Billie, by Brian Andersen and Preston Nesbit
My comics about being out appeared in Lavender magazine, but that was years ago.
My characters have been coming out their entire lives (at least the GLBT ones!).
Here’s a page I did lo these many years ago for Gay comics #25:
I’ve done little comics work dealing with sexuality in recent years- maybe I’ve said what I have to say, or else I just want to think about it for a while before I say anything else.
Thank you again to everyone who contributed stories and comicsand to everyone who has stood up and spoken out about queer rights and identity, in and out of comics.
You can discuss this postand share more storieshere (I’ll add stories to this post as/if they arrive!).