In a move that only proves the growing acceptance and inevitability of full marriage rights for gay people, Archie Comics is getting ready to ring some gay wedding bells in Riverdale. Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics that was introduced about a year ago, is getting married.
In the year since he was introduced in the April issue of the comic "Veronica", Kevin Keller has become one of the most popular characters Archie Comics has had in years. The character, who has also served in the military in the comics, had a limited series this summer and there is a planned regular ongoing comic starting in February of next year. The character's nuptials will be taking place in January, says Archie Comics:
The amazingly popular Kevin Keller is featured in the twenty-something world of 'Life With Archie.' Kevin followed in his father's foot steps and is returning to Riverdale as a war hero, but that's not all - It's Kevin's wedding day! The whole gang turns out for Kevin Keller's wedding as we discover how Kevin met "Mr. Right." It's not all hearts and flowers, however. Unfortunately, this all occurs during the separation of Archie and Veronica. Archie Comics presents the wedding event of the year ... again!
Back when Keller was introduced, the author of the miniseries, Dan Parent, explained the importance of having an openly gay character in the comic:
The world of Riverdale has to reflect contemporary culture and to show it is an accepting, diverse place. And that's why Kevin is important, to show that everybody is welcome in this all-American town we've embraced for over 70 years.
Of course, an openly gay character in a comic (gasp!), did have its detractors and a small moment of "controversy" and outrage, but overall the inclusion in the famously family-friendly comics has been well-received.
As someone who read Archie Comics as a kid, I have to say this is such a good thing (and not just for my inner-geek). Archie Comics were the only comics my parents let me read, since I was raised in a very strictly religious household. Of course, I snuck other comics with more adult themes, like the X-men (which spoke to being an outcast and had heavy gay/being different overtones), but I always had a special love for the residents of Riverdale. Having been able to see someone who was "like me" in Archie Comics would have been a huge source of comfort for me in my younger years as a gay person.
We've seen the impact that a fully-inclusive reflection of our society in pop culture can have. Poll after poll shows that young people who have been raised knowing and respecting LGBT people in all aspects of their life (including television, comics, music, and movies) are far more supportive of equal rights for all people and far more open-minded than their older counterparts of prior generations. That's why the inclusion of not just a gay character, but a fully-formed one who served in the military and who will be marrying the man he loves, is so moving to me and can have a real impact on readers.
So congratulations Kevin Keller and a big thank you to Archie Comics. After all, visibility is always a good thing, even when it comes in cartoon form.