Riverdale gets gay

The fictional town of Riverdale, where Archie and his friends have been attending high school since 1939, just got its first openly gay resident, Kevin Keller. Okay, that happened a little while ago but now Kevin has his own series, which, if you’re unfamiliar with Archie Comics, is kind of a big deal. Some characters who’ve been around forever never get their own spinoff.

No one knows where Riverdale is for sure (though speculations include everywhere from middle America to coastal England), but if it was in New York Kevin could potentially get married, that is, if he weren’t the only gay guy in town. The only openly gay guy, Archie Comics stresses. That means, I suppose, that now that Kevin is out others may follow?

Whether or not Reggie, Moose or longtime gay suspect Jughead (yeah, I read it as a kid) will come out of the closet remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s kind of an exciting time for Archie and his small town buddies. Em & Lo reported that even macho powerhouse DC Comics is hopping on the gay train with a gay superhero couple and a line-up of lesbians that includes Batwoman.

Archie Comics has been trying to add more diversity to their series for a while now, so not only is Kevin out and loving it (much to the dismay of Veronica, who, try as she might, failed to attract the chiseled, blonde newcomer), he now has his own series. The New York Times blog Arts Beat recently spoke with Kevin’s creator, Dan Parent, about Kevin’s origin story.

“The whole Kevin thing came up pretty organically,” he said. “I had an idea in the back of my head about Veronica chasing the “unobtainable” guy. In her case, a gay guy. And the humor would stem in everybody knowing it except Veronica. At the same time, our fearless leader, Jon Goldwater was looking to bring more diversity to Riverdale, so things just seemed to meld together.

“As far as the reaction goes, I haven’t really been surprised, since I know most of our fans are pretty cool. I was relieved though, because we were sailing into unchartered waters, for sure. The best experiences since Kevin’s introductions have been his broad acceptance by our readers and the heartfelt feelings from the gay community. Many gay readers have explained how Kevin would have made a difference in their growing up and how much Riverdale played a part in their childhood. But the best part is the reaction from parents of gay kids, as well as the kids themselves.

“I think we sometimes overlook the parents of gay kids, and how they worry about their kids in society. And when there’s a positive gay role model in print or film, it can be meaningful to a family dealing with gay issues. As far as negative experiences, there are always the haters out there, but they’re not really worth the ink on this page, so who cares about them?”