Love is Love

Andreyko, Marc (Organizer), and Sarah Gaydos and Jamie S. Rich (Editors). Love is Love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting. San Diego: IDW Publishing, 2016.

Comic book characters standing together holding a giant pride flag.

On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 before being killed by police officers. It was Latin Night and over 90% of the victims were Latinx. The Pulse shooting is the deadliest act of terror on LGBTQ people in the history of the United States.

After learning about the shooting, comic book and screenplay writer Marc Andreyko rallied the comics community to produce an anthology to benefit the survivors via Equality Florida. Dozens of gifted writers, artists, letterers, and colorists responded and generously donated their talents to create Love is Love.

This anthology was a great idea and a big-hearted effort and it’s wonderful that it’s helping the survivors. But it falls flat for me, for more than one reason. First, I expected some elegiac prose, because mourning is appropriate. What I was not expecting was horrific imagery of slain victims. I doubt that graphic depictions of bullet holes in queer bodies would be comforting for the survivors who witnessed it firsthand.

Second, rather than an “own voices” work, the majority of the contributors were white cisgender heterosexual men. Most pieces were white cishet perspectives on the shooting and allyship. While I’m glad these folks were distressed and chose to donate their work, it sometimes felt like privileged voices speaking for and over the survivors. There were even a few self-congratulatory pieces where the writer described how a gay person came out to them once and they were okay with it.

Finally, there was a lot of emphasis on the “G” and hardly any on the rest of the LGBTQ spectrum. Where there was wider representation, there were some missteps. The only piece that mentioned asexuality misspelled it. One piece depicted bisexuality as switching between straight and gay, furthering the “bisexuals can choose” trope. And one piece with a trans character portrayed deadnaming as a tender moment.

There were some outstanding pieces by LGBTQ creators that expressed both despair and hope. Notably, “Pride,” by writer James Tynion IV and artist Molly Knox Ostertag, is a beautiful depiction of a frightened teenager navigating coming out and blossoming in self-confidence and community. I also really liked writer Chuck Kim’s and illustrator Phil Jimenez’s sweet piece reminiscing about being gay in their 20’s and reacting to the horrors of the Pulse shooting.

Love is Love won the 2017 Eisner Award for Best Anthology.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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