Last week, I posted some information on the demise of LivingOut, Minnesota’s only GLBT alternative to Lavender Magazine. Many of you commented on your experiences working for LivingOut, and it seems that the publication is indeed gone.
David Rust, who wrote the publications first headline about gay marriage in Massachusettes clears up a few things about LivingOut:
“Of the things I’ve read in the comments section of this page, I can say that a lot of it isn’t true. There was no racism at 3 Dollar Bill and many folk -gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, etc.- were hired, promoted, and kept on-staff during the year I worked for them. Distribution could have been better, but I saw the 30,000 copies of each issue we had printed during the Summer months of 2004 as I was also a distributer at that time.”
He added that payment for services still have not been received, and contact with the company has been non-existant.
He also shares with us his last column, “A Geek’s Eye On…Identity: Time to Hang up the Cape and Tights” which I’ve added in the extended entry.
A Geek’s Eye On … Identity
Time to Hang up the Cape and Tights
by David J Rust
Doctor Ray Palmer, physicist, acquired a piece of a white dwarf star and was able to engineer it into a device that allowed him to shrink to almost any size. Donning a blue costume and the sobriquet “the Atom,” he went into the world to fight crime and become a hero beloved by comic book fans everywhere.
The Atom joined the Justice League, battled such foes as Jason Woodrue: the Floronic Man, Chronos, and the humorously costumed “Calculator” while standing aside better known and more powerful heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman. Even Aquaman was more powerful, being strong enough to withstand the pressures found at the bottom of the Marianas Trench and punch-out a full-grown blue whale! Heck, all the Atom could do was get short.
He had his trials and victories, spent some time as a miniature John Carter in the rainforests, but never lost his edge…
…Until his secret identity was betrayed by the one person he thought he could trust: his wife.
True, the happy couple’s divorce was amicable but you don’t marry a size-changing super-hero without, apparently, losing a few marbles in the process. In a mad bid to win him back, she concocted a scheme to put a fellow super-hero spouse in peril to attract Dr. Palmer’s attentions once more. Sadly, she went too far and ended up accidentally killing her target. The ensuing nightmare that cost Elongated Man (aka “Ralph Dibney”) his beloved Sue was called “Identity Crisis” and really dissected the concept of why many choose to keep their true selves a secret.
Most do it to protect their family and friends from retribution but how many have ever considered that one of their loved ones could become a threat?
It�s a position that GLBT folk know pretty well.
The average lesbian doesn’t don a skin-tight costume to punish evildoers nor does Joe Gay put on a voluminous pink cape and beat up the Joker: living life can be challenging enough when accused of being a blight on society and a danger to children. Hence, although they may not wear spandex (aside from the occasional drag queen), GLBT folk may adopt secret identities for reasons that could have saved the Atom quite a bit of stress and trouble. If he�d kept his secret life hidden from “the little woman” she might never have lost her mind and killed someone.
Then again, more and more heroes are coming out of the phone booth these days.
Captain America is now known to the world as Steve Rogers while Reed Richards, his wife Sue, and the rest of the Fantastic Four have never hidden who they are!
Writers in comic books are starting to find that there�s more to having a secret identity than first met the eye. This humble tradition, going back to the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel (and probably earlier), has always been a foil for the hero. Knowing that their personal actions, vigilante or endorsed, could lead to personal punishment provides constant pressure.
A super-hero may be incredibly powerful but any ability to deliver justice must come from circumventing conventional authorities. In other words, “Reagan’s Raiders” – the comic book that chronicled the adventures of a super-powered Ronald Reagan and his cabinet – was never a real super-hero: he wasn’t anti-establishment or outside of the loop (without his wife’s astrologer, that is.)
Oddly enough, the X-Men – hated and reviled for being “not human” – hide their identities but are still known to be mutants. It’s the super-hero equivalent of having everyone in the Pride parade wearing masks.
“Well, they must be Queer; they�re marching!”
“Yeah, but who are those strange, pink-masked men?”
How, in a world full of super-heroes, the X-Men got to be known as mutants and not just a cavalcade of people bitten by various radioactive insects, is hard to say. These days, they go around proudly proclaiming it.
And, masked or not, it’s a sound idea.
Super-heroes save people all the time, whether through the street justice of Green Arrow (who took on a gay bashing in an early issue) or the web-slinging, quip-throwing Spider-Man. But perhaps their most impressive act of selfless altruism has come in the form of taking off their masks and letting people know who they are.
It’s something for the closeted GLBT community, and all who hide their real selves, to consider.