Be yourself, for better or for worse
Susannah Colt lives in Whitefield and can be reached at [email protected]
One of the reasons why I subscribe to the Tuning Monitor is the comics page. I read all the news, which is my appetizer and main course, before I get to the best part – dessert. I need the emotional release when I laugh at the antics of Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and Charlie Brown and laugh at the irreverence of Pearls Before Swine.
My favorite is For Better or For Worse. Lynn Johnston’s comic strip first appeared in syndication in 1979 and ran until 2008. It chronicles the lives of the Patterson family and their friends in a fictional suburb of Toronto, Ontario. In 2010 the band began re-performing the original soundtrack with some minor edits by Johnston to bring it up to modern times.
Saturdays (To watch, 3/26) The episode For Better or For Worse took me back in time to its first appearance on March 27, 1993. For those who don’t follow the comics, Mike Patterson has a friend named Lawrence. He is an only child and his mother lamented the fact that Lawrence was aging and facing the prospect of an empty nest.
She decides on a whim to have a puppy. She loves having a puppy and begins to imagine a time when Lawrence will get married and have children. Lawrence and Mike talk about this prospect when Lawrence explains to Mike that he will never marry or have children. Mike doesn’t understand what Lawrence is saying and asks, innocently, “What if you, you know – fall in love?” Lawrence responds, “I fell in love. But it’s not with a girl. The next three weeks of the tape tell the story of Lawrence coming out to family and friends.
I’ll be very interested to see if Johnston alters the story because the first time around was pure literary genius. As a result of this story, Johnston was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Cartoons in 1994.
On March 26, 1993, the union leader published a front-page op-ed from its publisher Nackey Loeb titled “Comic Propaganda”. She announced that the comic would be out for a few weeks as the author has “now decided to join the ranks of political propaganda and use his comic to promote homosexuality as a normal, morally acceptable way of life. justified”.
the Portsmouth HeraldDavid Solomon’s editor wrote an editorial announcing that the Herald would direct the comic. After reading the entire three-week episode, he found that it “depicts a painful reality with sensitivity, emotion and good taste. There is no political proselytizing, no waving of the gay rights banner.
At the same time the comic came out in the paper I was involved with a group of LGBT activists trying to get the city of Portsmouth to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance and we were lobbying councilors and preparing for the public hearing on our petition.
I was also an attorney at a firm that had been handling a personal legal matter for Ms. Loeb for about a year. When the opposing lawyer called me an “incompetent lawyer”, she replied by telling me that she thought I was “the best incompetent lawyer she knew”. She showed her confidence in me by inviting me to join the board of directors of her non-profit therapeutic riding center.
When I saw his editorial in the newspaper, I was personally hurt and saddened. The civil rights struggle in Portsmouth was gaining popularity and publicity and I was terrified that she would find out I was gay and kick me out so I decided I had to date her . I screwed up my courage and called to make an appointment to meet her in person.
Although she was frail and in a wheelchair from a car accident, she was a titan in the publishing world and I was totally intimidated by her. My heart was pounding in my chest as I sat down in his home office and started talking. I couldn’t hold back my tears as I explained how hurt I was by her editorial and her decision to pull the comic. She immediately went from a titan to a mother figure and put me at ease for the rest of our encounter. I was thrilled and relieved and from then on, I didn’t have to hide that part of me anymore.
Portsmouth City Council refused to pass our anti-discrimination ordinance by a vote of 5 to 4 and two days later Ms Loeb wrote me a letter noting that “the first skirmish in Portsmouth is over, but I know well enough to know that it won’t be the last.
She thanked me for meeting her and wrote, “It took a lot of character and a lot of courage on your part. We may not agree on everything, but I have tremendous respect for you as an individual.
Since 1993, the LGBT community has won significant civil rights protections through legislatures and courts, but despite this there is still resistance. The current wave of anti-transgender legislation in New Hampshire and across the country feels like a resurgence of battles we’ve already won.
The current target is our children, who are not allowed to go out, like Lawrence from For Better or For Worse, and be themselves. It is tragic that people feel the need to erect obstacles and barriers to complicate their path, all in the name of moral values.
For these young souls and their families and friends, I encourage them to challenge the naysayers, be yourself so people can see your true character and courage, and hope that respect will follow.