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Humans can be so dense sometimes. This is especially frustrating in a field like science, where experimentation, exploration and innovative thinking really pay off. For example, look at how long it’s taken scientists to admit that animals have feelings and emotions. For years, we were taught that animals were like robots, acting only out of instinct, despite all kinds of evidence from pet owners and animal lovers to the contrary. Now that some of that evidence is actually being examined, it turns out science has been stymied because it refused to look at proof that was right in front of its face.
Anything That Loves (Northwest Press) points out another scientific myth many of us bought into: that sexuality is binary, and anyone between gay and straight is just confused, horny or immature. Just as animal lovers protested that their kitten wasn’t just a robot that cuddled, bisexuals, pansexuals, queers and everyone between gay and straight on the sexual number line have likewise argued for decades that their sexuality is logical, natural and mature.
In this new millennium, when we pride ourselves on gender exploration and sexual identity alternatives, it seems this verification should have taken place eons ago (what with Rocky Horror and glam rock, I’d suggest in the seventies). Instead, this comics collection comes as a slap-in-the-face reminder: in the wake of discussion about gender and queer identity, we need to reassess our binary sexual stereotypes.
Many of the comics in this compilation reiterate these basic points: sexuality is not binary, people’s sexuality may change throughout a lifetime, a preference for multiple genders or partners doesn’t necessarily imply immaturity or infidelity, and a fluid sexuality is as legitimate as a fixed one. Both gays and straights are equally guilty of this discrimination and stereotyping.
Erika Moen’s adept comics have set the standard for triumphing bisexuality. Using her own life as an example, her comics connect with readers who read them and say, “Hey, I feel that way too.” Kate Leth’s and Amy T. Falcone’s comics follow a similar instructive mode. Other creators like Nick Leonard, Melaina, Agnes Czaja, Lena H. Chandhok and Roberta Gregory use autobiography to point out stereotyping and frustrations they’ve personally encountered. Kevin Boze and Ashley Cook and Caroline Hobbs make analogies to the animal world to prove their points, while Stasia Burrington’s one page “cramped little boxes” vs. “dance party “ is the perfect infographic illustrating why inclusive sexual identities are more fun.
Some other highlights here: Leia Weathington checks in with a Bold Riley episode, Ellen Forney helps readers prepare for a successful three-some, Tara Madison Avery takes the discussion into the dojo of a martial arts class, and Powflip shares a tale of finding a like-minded latex lover, right next door. Contributions from Maurice Vellecoop, MariNaomi, Margreet de Heer and the end papers by Tania Walker are especially lovely, and Leann Franson’s flipped tale of a lesbian going on a straight date is hilarious.
Kudos for Charles “Zan” Christensen for compiling these comics, and as he describes in his introduction, for bravely confronting his own prejudices to come to some epiphanies about new ways we all can view sexual orientation.
Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond “Gay” and “Straight
Edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen
Paperback, 9781938720321, 216 pp.