Not that I want to distract anybody from checking out Spree, but this is interesting: Ever heard...
Ever heard of the Rawhide kid? Well, you probably will soon. The Kid has a long history, although he was never particularly popular. But now he is to be resurrected, and this time, he's gay. There's been a lot of media and blog interest, from the merely lazy reprinting of AP garbage, to some quite insightful stuff, and even an amusing point-counterpoint between Stan Lee and a rabid conservative. So, obviously, with CNN, CBS and NBC already weighed in, it's time for me to make my opinion known.
Contrary to some reporting, it's pretty clear that the Rawhide Kid was never meant to be gay, although he is habitually well-dressed. There has been some amusingly suggestive cover art in the past, but any picture can be reinterpreted in hindsight. At the time, the Rawhide Kid was the result of a marketing decision (it looked like crime and horror comics were going to be banned, so they needed to expand into other genres quickly), and his revival (with its cringeworthy title Rawhide Kid: Slap leather) is nothing but more of the same, this time to tap into the small but hungry market for gay comics, catering to those for whom the allegory of the X-Men isn't obvious enough.
I have no real objection to the exploitation of the gay market. I like watching gay characters on television, and I'd like to see them in comic books too. The dearth of good shows with gay themes means I settle for crap like Will and Grace and the US version of Queer as Folk. Hell, I've even watched Dawon's fucking Creek a few times, just because the gay character ropes me in. But Marvel's comic is doing exactly what Will and Grace and Dawson's Creek do: toning down the gay aspect to attempt to appeal to a wider audience. Instead of explicitly stating his sexuality, the Kid will make camp references and innuendoes. Oh please.
I've had enough of the watered-down family-friendly homosexuality that the networks have worked out is safe. If you're going to appeal to my niche, do it properly. I want to see the Kid in real storylines (as real as comic books get, anyway) with real romantic interests, just like the straight characters get. In 2003, it's too late to be considered groundbreaking just for introducing a gay character. I'd respect Marvel if they broke ground by introducing a gay character who actually kissed a guy once in a while.