I think I may be the wrong person to pipe up in these kinds of discussions. I really don’t care about the kind of identity politics that informs the desire to see oneself in the fiction that one consumes. I just don’t have that kind of relationship with my fiction. I like to see and read about interesting and compelling characters, broadly defined, but whether or not these characters reflect some or none of my own personality, experiences, preferences, or hang-ups is immaterial to how I evaluate stories or characters. I suppose it’s a nice bonus from time to time, but it’s pretty low (if it ever makes it there at all) on my checklist of what makes a good story or what makes for a compelling character to follow. I believe fiction has to stand on its own as an art form, and not as any kind of political agenda or any kind of social commentary. It can do that, but it shouldn’t have to and we shouldn’t expect it to. Our fictions can help us envision a better (whatever that means) world but it’s ultimately up to us to create that better world. We shouldn’t mistake any kind of Jacobin-esque victories on the written and drawn page to somehow immediately translate to real world change. The latter may influence the former, but there isn’t a causal relationship there.
What would I tell publishers regarding LGBTQ characters? Nothing in particular I suppose. I’d tell them to just keep making good stories. If those stories happen to involve queer characters? Great. Go for it. Don’t let market research or sales statistics overly influence your judgment on whether or not to proceed. (Though, I do understand, and may forgive you if you do. This is a business after all). At this point in my life, I do resist and am uncomfortable with the notion of deeming the funny books as being aspirational. I don’t think they are and should be. In my opinion, that is just a very simplistic and naïve way to view the world and fiction’s relationship to the world in which we live. But perhaps, in this instance, I’ll give in to the general kumbaya of it all and say ok, what would be a good aspirational comic with queer characters look like? I think it’s one in which queer characters just are. They are there, they exist, they live, they do things, but the queerness of it all isn’t pointed out or made an issue of. That’s the kind of aspirational world I can buy into. Like the kind that Hisao from Morning Glories inhabits. Or the one where the Rat Queens play. Or the one where queer reporters from BkV’s Saga just are. That’s the kind of world I want to see and aspire to: one where being queer just becomes as normal, boring, and utterly common place as being straight.
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