Did you catch the reveal of Max’s parents in this week’s strips?
I’ve actually known all along that Max has lesbian parents. I’ve been waiting for years for it to come up organically. And it actually did in the forthcoming Phoebe and Her Unicorn In: The Magic Storm, which is due out in October. So in the current camping storyline, I introduced them, so that they’ll be established for longtime readers by the time they appear in Magic Storm.
I couldn’t help wondering how people were going to react. Yes, it’s 2017, and we’ve come a long way. On the other hand, we’ve entered a cultural moment when any attempt at representation seems to be met with a lot of allegations of “political correctness” and “having an agenda.”
And I guess I do have an agenda. I think representation matters. Families come in a lot of forms. Art should reflect it. And, characters in the strip are often based on people in my life, and not all of my friends are straight people.
I’m always kind of fascinated by how many people don’t know this, but although my marriage looks conventional on the surface (I’m legally a woman, married to someone who is legally a man), I’m a transgender woman married to a self-identified androgynous person. And I don’t particularly appreciate the notion that in a medium read by children, only “normal” families can be depicted.
Only depicting “normals” is itself an agenda. Refusing to acknowledge people who aren’t the societal default is totally an agenda. Every writer has one, consciously or not. I’m willing to own mine. Obviously I’m not anti-straight people (look at Phoebe’s parents), but we’re all in this together.
Also, what if I told you Phoebe’s maternal grandfather is Mexican-American, and her piano teacher is Muslim? Neither fact has ever come up organically in the strip. If they do, I won’t avoid them, and we’ll see what people say.
If it’s anything like this, I think it’ll go fine. The comments on the first two strips this week have been pretty good. I’m informed there aren’t a lot of terrible flagged comments, either. My audience is apparently pretty chill about this stuff.
Good on you, everybody.